According to Pew Research Center, millennials are now the largest generation in the labor force with 35% of participants. That means that, as of 2017, 56 million millennials were working or looking for work. In the facilities management industry, attracting young talent is especially crucial. Companies are starting to face the Baby Boom retirement wave, during which 50% of FM professionals will leave the workforce.
However, drawing millennials to the FM industry can be difficult, mainly because they are oftentimes unaware of career opportunities in this field.
Attracting millennial talent to facilities management requires understanding their priorities in the workplace. Key to note: a Gallup report found that 21% of millennials have changed jobs in the past year. Why? Because not many— only 29%— report being engaged at work, or emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job. Therefore, hiring millennial FM talent and keeping them involved the industry requires creating an engaging, purposeful, balanced and technologically-savvy working environment.
Let’s look at five actionable strategies for attracting millennials to the facilities management industry, and retaining them once they join:
1 - Create A Collaborative Environment
Collaboration is incredibly important to millennials; 65% report that they prefer face-to-face meetings with managers, while 51% prefer in-person meetings with peers when working on projects. In the FM industry, team members sometimes spend large portions of time solo, like when completing on-site inspections. Therefore, creating an FM “home base” workplace environment that fosters collaboration is key, like updating office spaces to feature open floor plans, huddle rooms, and interconnected tables.
It’s also key to provide employees with collaboration-focused technology, such as instant messaging tools and group communication apps that allow facilities professionals to communicate online together easily around critical processes like invoicing and contractor management.
2 - Invest in Technology
Millennials have grown up with technology as an integral part of their lives, and they expect to use it in the workplace; in fact, 93% said that the latest technology was important to them when choosing an employer. Thus, investing in facilities management technology is a must for drawing millennials to your company.
You should prioritize FM automation technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT and service automation that streamline daily workplace tasks like word order management and hiring contractors.
Additionally, encouraging mobile device use, rather than discouraging it as some employers have done in the past, is attractive to millennials— keep in mind that 70% report using mobile apps in order to work, so mobile use can actually improve productivity. FM mobile apps in particular are particularly effective in driving process efficiencies and quality of service improvements.
3 - Define Your Higher Purpose
In general, millennials have a strong sense of social awareness and look to work for businesses that feel the same way; 88% said that a defined value and mission statement is an important factor in selecting a company, and 92% believe businesses should be measured by more than their company profits.
Therefore, FM departments should spearhead volunteer initiatives like paid volunteer days. You can focus on charitable opportunities that relate to your business, such as food banks for restaurants or clothing drives for retail stores to forge a strong connection between your business and your purposeful initiatives. Additionally, increasing your facilities’ sustainability can go a long way in attracting millennials to work for your company, as well as creating a stronger sense of loyalty and commitment amongst employees overall.
4 - Prioritize Work/Life Balance
Millennials give their all at work, but they do not want work to be the only important factor in their lives. With emails and alerts coming into smartphones and laptops at all hours via FM technology, your facilities teams may find unplugging difficult.
It’s no secret that taking time off is good for both health and productivity, and millennials know this. Therefore, prioritizing work/life balance— and making this clear to your teams— is crucial. This includes being flexible about hours, where employees complete work, and destigmatizing taking vacations. Emphasize to your teams that FM emergencies should, of course, be dealt with immediately, but that non-emergency alerts do not need to be addressed immediately during off hours.
5 - Provide Continuous Learning Opportunities
Whereas FM employee training used to occur during the first few weeks on the job, millennials don’t want to stop learning once those first weeks are over. To attract them to facilities management, provide educational programs like mentoring, seminars, and industry conference participation throughout their tenure.
Not only will continuing education draw talented millennials to your organization, but it will benefit you, as educated employees will bring forward-thinking, innovative facilities management ideas and new technologies like IoT and AI that will increase productivity and optimize operations in your workplace.
Successfully attracting millennial talent to facilities management requires commitment from your entire organization. From senior leadership who must make key decisions around implementing learning programs and establishing work/life balance initiatives, to IT personnel who spearhead technology adoption, it’s key that the organization is poised for “The Millennial Shift” from top to bottom.
As they age and move into more leadership positions, millennials will soon have an even more pronounced effect on how the facilities management field develops. Thus, attracting and engaging millennial talent now will set you up for continued success in the future.
Learn more about setting up your facilities management operations to succeed in the future.