As Boomers Retire, How to Attract and Retain Younger Workers


It is happening in the AEC industry and in nearly every industry nationwide: an entire generation of older, skilled workers is reaching retirement age and moving on, but for the younger workers replacing them (sometimes called “Millennials” or “Generation Y”), longevity is not the norm.

According to a 2012 survey, the majority of younger workers expect to stay in a job for less than three years, which leaves firm owners and human resources managers wondering how to attract and retain a younger workforce—one with very different wants and needs from its predecessor. Here is what the experts say will be critical:

Embrace Telecommuting and Flexible Schedules

We have long since expelled the myth that remote workers are less connected and less productive. In fact, employers that embrace the benefits of telecommuting often see an increase in productivity as well as employee satisfaction and engagement, and the same holds true for companies that support flexible work schedules.

In April 2013 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released the results of its NextGen study, which looked at anonymous feedback from more than 40,000 PwC employees worldwide about a broad range of workplace and career issues. Most workers, they discovered, put a premium on work/life flexibility, and according to the study:

  • Millennials and non-Millennials alike want the option to shift their work hours to accommodate their own schedule and are interested in working in locations outside the office where they can stay connected by way of technology.
  • Given the opportunity, 64% of Millennials (and 66% of non-Millennials) would like to occasionally work from home, and 66% of Millennials (and 64% of non-Millennials) would like the option to occasionally shift their work hours.

Provide Ongoing Training and Development Opportunities

According to a July 2013 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) article, younger employees want see a path for advancement and understand what will be expected of them in higher-level positions. A strong onboarding program; workplace-provided continuing education (for licensed and non-licensed professionals); leadership and management training; and cross-training and mentorship opportunities are all proven strategies for engaging and holding on to younger workers.

Update Your Employee Review Process to “Touch Base” More Often

SHRM also tells us that Millennials crave instant feedback with regard to performance. For this reason, whether or not employees are physically in the office, experts stress the need to evolve from the traditional annual or biannual review process to one that involves meeting with team members more often throughout the year. They recommend managers meet with employees on a monthly basis to discuss performance and individual goals, as well as to address any issues or challenges they may be experiencing.

Two Birds, One Solution: SmartTeam Learning and Performance Cloud

As employers in a broad range of industries seek out ways to attract and retain a new generation of workers, an all-in-one online learning and performance solution such as SmartTeam may help provide the missing link.

A RedVector sister company, SmartTeam combines two solutions in one to deliver a simple and affordable way for AEC firms to meet the needs of a Millennial-driven workforce. The SmartTeam Learning Cloud features more than 100 professional development courses plus a full suite of administrative tools to track and manage training, while the SmartTeam Performance Cloud allows companies to formalize and share goals as well as assign, track and complete employee appraisals all 100% online. Together, they can help deliver critical training as well as set goals and measure individual and company-wide performance.

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