by Brian Poage
Construction companies often employ multigenerational workforces. Many contractors get started right out of college or high school, and some continue working in the industry through retirement. You can find employees of just about any age on the jobsite.
While this diversity of skills and experience benefits businesses overall, each generation typically has different expectations for company processes and culture. Managers may struggle to effectively communicate to their age-diverse teams. Luckily, there are three easy ways to improve communications and engage employees of all ages.
Prioritize Ease of Use
There may be plenty of generational stereotypes out there, but don’t assume that an older employee wants a phone call while a younger employee prefers instant messaging. Instead, conduct surveys to learn about your employees’ communication preferences, and shape communications based on the results.
You’ll likely find that most employees aren’t completely against trying new forms of communication, they just want any system the company uses to be both effective and efficient. They need communications channels that are intuitive to learn and easy to use without cutting into crucial tasks of the workday.
Construction companies should prioritize ease of use when researching new communications channels. Utilize mobile devices and software that employees already use in their daily lives to make work-related communications simpler and more familiar.
Simplify Daily Reporting
In construction, it’s not just the company that needs to communicate with their employees; the employees also need to share information with each other every day, and their unique styles of communication can make that difficult. Projects quickly veer off schedule and go over budget when field teams aren’t effectively reporting on daily progress.
The style of communication each generation prefers can vary wildly. For example, younger employees may prioritize safety-related information while older employees focus on quality. Likewise, older employees may use pen and paper reports while younger employees prefer Excel or other digital tools. These differences can lead to frequent communication errors and cost valuable work hours for managers who need to organize and analyze productivity.
Businesses can’t expect employees to use multiple communication channels and methods for every report they submit, so instead they should focus on improving the daily reporting process universally. Consider investing in daily reporting software that automates repetitive tasks, standardizes report formats, and simplifies data collection and processing.
Streamlining the way your teams share critical reporting information can reduce miscommunication and misinterpretations that negatively affect progress.
Managers may be afraid of conflict between age groups, but they shouldn’t shy away from scheduling younger and older workers together. Creating age-diverse work crews encourages both informal and formal mentorship.
Mentorship goes both ways. Older employees can teach younger workers about the industry and help them grow their professional skill sets. Younger workers may be able to introduce senior employees to new technology and give them a new perspective on work-life balance.
With age-diverse crews, this sharing of skills will happen naturally on the jobsite, but establishing a formal mentorship program will have a greater impact.
Brian Poage is senior solution sales manager at Raken.