Last issue I wrote that many of the stereotypes of Millennials and Baby Boomers are “fake news” and suggested there are more than a handful of way to keep those Boomers (like me) energized and contributing to your organization. After all, there is a lot of knowledge and expertise stored in the minds of those who, eventually, will be retiring. But they’re not retired yet!
Here are five more tips to help keep those Baby Boomers working hard for your company.
1. Engage Your Boomers to ID the High Potential Workers (HPW)
Those Boomers on your projects, leading that crew, running their department, etc., they know who the real “players” are for your company. Let them contribute by sharing their thoughts and perspectives on tomorrow’s leaders, craftsman, and loyal employees for your company. They know who the real jewels are so let them share with you their choices.
2. Match Your High Potential Trainers with High Potential Employees
One of the tendencies developing among our Millennial workers is their quick assessment of whether they are being trained early in their employment. A client of mine discovered, to both of our dismay, that the new employee averaged less than 60-days in their employment. The primary reason? They felt that they have not been trained on anything of value. We immediately began a matching of older, more experienced, worker with a new hire. We didn’t keep all the new hires but we witnessed the longevity of the new employees increase more than 300%, some even staying longer. It can be done but you must engage your willing Boomers.
3. Ask Your Boomers for Their Assistance
Go to your Boomers and sincerely ask for their assistance in teaching, mentoring, coaching, or befriending a new hire, especially a Millennial. Explain to your Boomers what you are doing, what they can do to assist you, and why it is important that they transfer their knowledge and experience to the new hire. You may be surprised to find how many Boomers will help you and may surprise you with all that they can do to assist your new hires.
4. Keep Training & Educating Your Boomers
I may have seen this slip up as much as or more than anything else contractors will do. Many construction owners and leaders are so focused on getting the “young’uns” trained that they forgot to keep training the Boomers. This is mistake can cause many Boomers to think, “Well, I guess they don’t care about me anymore.” Trust me, it happens more than you think and you don’t have to do this! Even if it’s the third or fourth time your older Foreman have been through leadership training in twenty years, they could use the refresher.
5. Never Slow Down Encouraging Your Boomers
This may sound too easy but this point might be the second mistake I witness many contractors making. Again, we are so focused on encouraging our new workers that we often forget to say, “Thank you for a great effort,” to our older workers. I’ve never yet witnessed a Boomer telling their senior leader, “Really, Bob, quit telling me thanks and how great I am…you’re killing me boss. Really, you’re causing head to swell.” Most of time I hear complaints from the older worker about all the cheerleading and “love” the newer and younger workers are getting.
My whole motivation over these last two issues of Pavement Maintenance & Reconstruction was simply to impress upon you to not keep your appreciation for your Boomers a secret. And an ancillary benefit is that executing some of the suggestions covered over the last two Tailgate Talk columns may actually lift the morale of your Millennial workers as they see that good workers aren’t forgotten or put out to pasture just because they have some gray hair and a few more wrinkles about the face.
Reenergizing your Boomers may do wonders for your company and help improve the performance and profitable results driven by your Boomers. Just remember: There’s a whole lot more you can gain from your Boomers, so be careful that you don’t send signal that their time has come and gone. Some of their best contributions for you and your company may be yet to come.
May the “fountain of youth” satisfy the thirst for the Boomers in your company who still have much to do and contribute!