Merging the Generational  Gap in Your Workforce
Look to team strengths to find the best way to implement new tech
by Amy Cash

Ask any business owner, executive or manager about his/her company’s most powerful asset. The answer will likely be: “Our people.” Although construction has a unique set of challenges in the face of the rapidly changing technological aspect of our society, communication and collaboration make a big difference when it comes to bridging generational gaps.

2017 Construction Management Statistics

  • There is a big movement towards embracing technology to help with project management and efficiency. Yet, concerns around staff issues were common throughout the report, falling directly behind large issues, such as new business and safety.
  • The trend toward adopting technology to improve efficiency is evident, with the majority of respondents, 56 percent, saying they were using more than three technology products.
  • Sixty-seven percent of respondents selected “collaboration within your team” as a top business priority for 2017, and while technology can help this, it can also wedge a gap with your less tech-savvy employees.

Mind the Gap

Your people are your strongest asset. On a construction site, you will likely hear about the camaraderie that exists between every person working on that project. And just like the people themselves, these close relationships, which have always been at the core of construction, are the key to getting our industry to embrace new technologies and ways of thinking that can benefit the individual worker and the project.

Let’s consider the makeup of your current workforce. Your longest-serving employees are baby boomers, who display specialized skill sets and dedication to management and professionalism, but are also slower than other generations to adopt new technology. On the other end of the spectrum, millennials are coming into play. They grew up on computers and technology, and are enthusiastic with innovation and visions of the future. And in the middle, you have Generation X. Gen Xers tend to be revenue generators and relationship builders.

It seems at odds, doesn’t it? Three unique skill sets held by generations decades apart, existing within a single jobsite. But boomers can benefit with the adoption of technology, and younger generations can certainly learn about professionalism and work ethic from their older colleagues.

Recipe for Success

Companies must invest in people to create a winning culture in which all generations have an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of all generations and support generational cross-training and leadership to leverage generational differences. Below are a few simple tactics to implement within your team.

  • Form generational cross-training mentorships—This may be the easiest tip to implement that is too often overlooked. Form mentor-type partnerships between entry-level millennials and relationship-building Gen Xers. The tech-savvy employee teaches the other how to utilize the software, while the more senior employee teaches the other about leadership and skills acquired through years on the jobsite.
  • Create innovation teams—Again, this is another tactic you have seen a million times, but have you actually implemented this with your team? Don’t wait for multimillion-dollar software needs or a chief information officer (CIO) position to get this group of employees involved. Giving an employee the opportunity to take initiative and use it to research the best technology and train team members gives him/her visibility to potential leadership opportunities and a stronger understanding of what the business needs.
  • Select easy-to-use technology—Decisions have been made and now you have the best software solution for your team, except you have noticed your teams aren’t using the software. Nine times out of 10, they will say it is too hard or takes too much time. The key to technology adoption is to start simple, train and reinforce use of
    the technology.

As technology becomes a part of everyday industry life, leveraging the generational synergies by implementing collaboration will be of unparalleled importance for successful technology implementation. Success is defined by investing in your people and by giving your coworker bankable assets and talents they can use throughout their lives.