Right now, the construction industry is facing a unique problem with its workforce: Baby Boomers are retiring in huge numbers. The Boomers, who entered the workforce between roughly 1964 and 1982 have enjoyed a very long stint at the center of construction management jobs. However, they are now reaching retirement age, and aren’t taking their time about moving on.
Estimates are that, across all industries in North America, more than 11,000 Boomers now retire every day. Looking at construction specifically, most projections are that the construction labour force will see at least a 25% changeover in the next few years. There’s no way to look at such numbers without concluding that construction management jobs are being shaken up in a big way.
What this means is that construction companies in Toronto, and across Canada, need to start planning for those retirements – if they haven’t already.
How to Deal with the Baby Boomer Exodus from Construction Management Jobs
1 – Understand your situation
When trying to form a plan for dealing with the Boomer exodus, the first step is understanding how deeply you’re going to be affected – and how soon. Talk to HR, pull out your employee files, and start looking at the ages and likely retirement dates of your upper- and middle-level managers. This will give you a good starting point for your planning, as well as telling you how long you have to deal with the problem before it becomes critical.
The more groundwork you lay in terms of understanding the current state of your workforce and how badly the exodus will affect you, the better off you’ll be in a few years.
2 – Start evaluating your lines of succession
Of those who are likely to retire in the next few years, who have someone in place that will be able to easily move into that job role? These should, of course, be relatively younger – either Generation X or Millennial-aged workers. If you have clear successors in place for most of your major roles, great. Just make sure you hang onto them for the next few years.
3 – Begin thinking about whether you need to hire
If you see a lot of managers without a clear successor in place, it may be time to start making some major personnel changes now or look to hire appropriate staff. Remember: as the Boomer exodus continues, that’s going to drive demand for skilled construction managers through the roof. It may be worth investing in less-experienced younger managers now, allowing them to get on-the-job training in a subordinate role, so they’ll be ready for you when you need them.
A construction employment agency such as Harbinger will be able to help you find the right people for the right roles. However, employment agencies will feel the same supply-and-demand pressure as everyone else. The difference for companies that work with Harbinger Network, is the ability to tap in to their vast network of talent to access candidates that are ready to make a move.
4 – Begin building trust in Millennial employees
In the past few years, it has seemed like the media has had an agenda against Millennials, painting them as lazy and unreliable. This attitude has often made it into workplaces, with upper management showing reluctance to put Millennial-age workers (those aged roughly 22-38 as of 2018) into positions of responsibility. In our experience, this is simply not founded. It’s true that Millennials often have different ideas of how to work, but it’s not that they’re bad workers. It’s more that they tend to have a “work smarter, not harder” attitude – and can often be a great source of insights and innovative ideas for streamlining operations.
(And after all, didn’t the media have a similarly dim view of the Baby Boomers, back in the 1960s and 70s?)
Further, the simple fact is that Millennials are currently the largest generation on Earth. Overlooking them for management positions is simply not an option – particularly given how small Generation X is by comparison. We’re also less than a decade away from the first Gen X retirees, so they will not be a viable alternative for very long.
So, we strongly recommend you begin showing more interest in your Millennial workers if you haven’t already. Start evaluating their management readiness, or even consider implementing development programs for them.
5 – Be ready for surprises and be flexible
We’re entering a period where construction companies in Toronto will have to “expect the unexpected” where their employees are concerned. There is a lot of employment shakeup happening across the nation, and it will be difficult to plan precisely for the future. Try to leave your options open and have multiple alternatives in place should you suddenly lose someone in a key management position.