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  • Writer's pictureDon Magruder

Millennials and Capacity are Changing Workforce Paradigms

Frequently, you’ll hear adults over 50 lament that millennials don’t have the same work ethic as their generation. They feel the younger generation simply does not want to work. Older workers believe that not showing up early, not working late, and refusing to work overtime is proof that the younger generation is basically lazy. It is especially amplified by many who hire people in the construction industry as this industry is known for being harsher on its workers.

With all the construction related jobs and services in Lake and Sumter Counties, which have a larger senior population, there seems to be a disconnect between older customers and today’s younger workforce. This is leading to more conflicts and incomplete jobs. As 2022 begins and construction projects are planned, homeowners as well as builders need to realize that the way workers were treated in the 1980s will not be tolerated today.

First, most good workers and tradespeople understand their worth. The best ones aren’t struggling for business, and they can pick and choose the jobs they take. Therefore, if a homeowner is too demanding or unreasonable in what they want, many good companies and tradespeople will refuse to work for them. The days of telling workers they are required to work overtime, or that they will need to do something for free are over. Frequently, construction workers and service people are advising difficult homeowners and builders to find someone else to do the work.

Secondly, many individuals believe people worked much harder in the 1980’s as compared to today. In reality, however, there were just as many lazy people back then as there are today. Also, in those days many workers took off weekends and left early on Wednesday. There are some very hard-working millennials, but the difference in their generation is they have other priorities in life that are just as important as work. Additionally, today’s generation of workers has little tolerance for those who are disrespectful to them.

The other factor that is missed by older people which has made a huge impact on today’s workforce is the advancement in technology. In the 1980s, there was no Google, YouTube, or online ordering with next day service, and therefore, problems on construction sites were much more difficult to resolve. There was also less variety and availability of materials. Before the advancements in technology, it took a lot more time to plan and gather products and information for a construction job. That is not the case for many younger construction workers today. The improvements in the construction industry technology have made many procedures easier, faster, and more efficient and workers are able to work smarter rather than harder. If today’s Florida hurricane codes and homeowner demands were in place during the time of limited technology, the older generation of construction workers would have been significantly less efficient.

Probably the biggest factor in the construction industry that is being missed by homeowners and builders is that demand is outstripping capacity. Most individuals have heard about the supply chain disruptions, but the root cause is there are not enough factories and raw materials to supply world-wide demand. The same can be said about construction labor in America. The population of America is getting older and just like Europe and Japan, America is facing significant declines in the number of available workers.

For instance, in Lake County according to the US Census Bureau, the population over the age of 65 is 27.1 percent and the population under 18 is 18.9 percent. In Sumter County the over 65 group makes up 58.2 percent of the population and the under 18 group is just 7.1 percent. Those raw numbers indicate that this area is getting older, and they clearly show why there is a labor issue in Lake and Sumter County. The numbers of available workers for healthcare, retail, services, construction, and other sectors are too low to meet demand.

Although many older people believe that the younger generation doesn’t want to work, they do work and have all the work they can do. However, the new generation of workers will not tolerate being demeaned or forced to work under unacceptable conditions. The biggest change in today’s workforce is that they are the ones doing the firing as they refuse to work for unreasonable people. This labor phenomenon will change when the demographics change which appears to be no time soon.

Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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