There’s a lot being said these days about young people not wanting to work or having no ambition. The counter argument from those young people in question includes complaints that leaders in management have expectations that are too high and work-life balance is impossible. 


Instead of playing the blame game, we all need to take ownership for our own actions. When it comes right down to it, our experience at work (or anyplace else, for that matter) is largely shaped by our own attitudes and actions. And how we choose to approach the situation will ultimately determine our success.


Employees. The construction world is wide open right now and opportunities are there for the taking. You can start with no background or training at all and make your way to equipment operator or supervisor—whatever you want—and earn a great living! You control your own destiny and determine your own worth. Let your actions speak for you.


It starts by taking ownership for your actions, by coming in every day with a positive, cooperative attitude and an open mind. When you show up every day, do your best, and are open to learning from those who have more experience than you, it gets noticed. 


Then be willing to pass that knowledge onto others who come behind you. Pitch in to help wherever you can. Be a team player. These are the actions—typically known as “paying your dues”— that will put you on the path to building a long, successful, lucrative career in construction.


With the construction workforce aging quickly, opportunities to get in and move up are endless!


Management/Leaders. The buck doesn’t stop with employees. As leaders and managers, we need to look at our own actions to determine how we are contributing to the workforce challenges we are all facing today. We have to find new ways to attract workers. If we keep doing what we always did, we’ll continue to struggle. 


We have to make a concerted effort to meet young people “where they live.” How do they communicate? What is important to them? We must start changing to meet the needs of the future workforce. 


Let’s face it, we need to make these jobs attractive to the younger generation and if that means making some changes, that’s what needs to be done. We cannot survive without replacing our aging workforce, so we need to reach the new workforce and demonstrate—in terms that they will understand and respond to—the benefits of working in this industry. It’s not an exaggeration to say that only those who adapt will survive in today’s construction markets.


The bottom line for both employees and leaders/management is that we all need to find a “happy medium” where old school meets new school— a place where we all work together toward a common goal. There are always generation gaps to overcome, but if we look at ourselves and take ownership for our actions, we will not only bridge those gaps, but come out on the other side better and stronger.