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Hiring a young person can be an enriching and performance-boosting act. Young workers under the age of 25 account for around 8 percent of the construction workforce. Youth are enthusiastic and eager to learn and contribute to the team. They can be a true asset to the business.

There are differences that need to be addressed when hiring young workers compared to older, more experienced workers. First, youth are computer-savvy and often want to know where they’re going. They’re at a stage in life where they are new to the workforce and it likely will be necessary to offer them a career and not just a job. For contractors hiring young workers, here are three tips to help attract and retain this demographic.

Make Your Job a Career Option

The construction industry is one of the largest employers in the country. There are some real perks to being involved in construction: There is room for development and growth, the industry is always evolving to suit new developments, there are many different avenues to pursue and there is high demand. However, it does have a stigma attached to it for some people, particularly parents who prefer the university white collar route for their children.

The message that the construction industry is not a lesser option and that it is a smart choice needs to be communicated loud and clear. Young workers will still be greatly influenced by their parents, so it is important to get the message to both parties. The industry in general needs a better PR campaign, but every contractor can help through its job advertisements, marketing, and direct contact with young people and their parents.

Contractors can make sure they know that the construction trades offer respected and well-paid careers. Young people are typically free of financial and family responsibilities and obligations, they are looking for a job that will interest them, challenge them and where they can see their future. Providing examples of how different trades can become a rewarding career will help make the case.

Engage Young Workers in the Company

For some young workers, construction may provide their first workplace. Their relationship in the beginning will be more like that between teacher and apprentice.

It will be necessary to invest time reviewing their strengths and weaknesses, their work habits and to give them the feedback they need. Communication channels must be open to make sure they are aware of the employer's goals and how they can contribute.

Engagement with young workers should start from day one. Effective induction or socialization programs and efforts can promote improved performance and connection to the company. Most importantly, it helps to set the tone of the business and to keep young workers informed during a particularly ambiguous time in their career.

Set a Positive Work Culture

It is up to the employer to set the tone of the workplace, and this is especially important in construction. In fact, according to  research, it is one of the biggest complaints of construction workers. A work environment that prioritizes honesty, self-motivation, and team-oriented workers is a productive organization. To get young workers involved in field work while demonstrating these traits, let them work alongside role models they can look up to.

Stressful working conditions quickly produce employee burnout and exhaustion. In the construction industry, youth and stress are not a good combination. Even though young workers under 25 account for 8 percent of the workforce, they account for 25 percent of all accidents.

Workplace health and safety training is mandatory, but there are a few extras that can make young workers less stressed. For example, allow for flexible schedules for a healthy work/life balance, ensure employees have a clear understanding of their job requirements, and foster positive social relationships in the company.

While young workers receive training with skills for the future, they also must be trained in the company culture. Eventually they may be in management positions, so it's important to model management for them that is genuinely interested in employee wellbeing.  Make sure there are valued opportunities for growth within the business, which goes back to the idea of presenting a career, not just a job.

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