Millennials and Building Materials: Mobilizing The Future

By | May 21, 2015

From our recruiting point of view we are challenged daily in finding skilled labor in the LBM and manufacturing industries. Even though the demand is there and many manufacturers and dealers plan to hire both now and in the near future, filling this need is no small task. Budgets will be strained with recruiting and training pressures. In spite of the difficulties facing our clients, the bulk of them are adding or plan on adding to staff.

When the housing market downturn began taking its toll on all sectors of the industry, many skilled and experience workers retired early, went to other sectors, or put their heads down and forged ahead. Seven or eight years later, the holes needing filled and the vacuum created have left many companies scrambling to find good people to hire. Enter the Millennials.


The continued retirement and other attrition of baby boomers impacts the ability of companies to operate at peak capacity, with skill gaps forming at all levels.

At the same time, millennials – those born between the early 1980s and 2000s – now comprise a major part of the national workforce, without significant presence or skills in the manufacturing and building materials industries, so much so that approximately half of all millennials are considering a return to school to gather further essential workplace skills.


For the building materials and manufacturing industries to adapt to millennial presence in the workplace, significant changes need to be made in company culture.

These areas include:

  • Job marketing
  • Hiring
  • Operations
  • Training
  • Retention


The fact is that a younger workforce is here to stay.  While this doesn’t mean setting aside institutional goals to accommodate them, it does mean adopting a progressive approach in all avenues of the employment experience.

Bypassing common millennial myths and preconceptions helps establish your foundation for cultivating and tapping the millennial labor market.

Stereotypes portray them as tech-addicted, reward-driven mercenaries, with outrageous schedule and benefit demands.

But what are their true lifestyles, motivations, preferences and desires?

  • There IS a millennial tendency to apply toward industries which are assumed to offer more flexibility, benefits and scheduling, with allowances for work-life balance.
  • Much like all workers before them, millennials want bosses that are fair, transparent, and consistent. — (Source:
  • Skill acquisition is highly important to the millennial workforce. It is imperative that our industry provide both underskilled workers and would-be students with an opportunity that benefits all parties involved.
  • Surprisingly, millennials accept and even prefer face to face instruction instead of tapping away on a tablet or cell phone.
  • Traditional job advancement seems very slow to millennials.  They want to fast-lane into higher salaries, while exercising more creativity and innovation.


They also value:

  • Work/life balance.
  • A company’s approach to social issues, as their interaction with traditional social structures like religion and marriage diminish.
  • Financial success, to a degree less than baby boomers and Generation X.
  • Self-expression and the ability to provide feedback.
  • Use of creativity in problem-solving.
  • Leadership opportunities.
  • Company innovation.
  • An interconnective environment that imitates and extends the Internet.
  • Customizable benefits.


  • Achieving and collaborating for the future.
  • Personal growth in varied assignments.
  • Training & development opportunities.
  • Interacting with employer through feedback.
  • Creative and expressive influence.  They feel they are hired to bring their own approaches for the betterment of the company and prefer to continually solve problems.
  • Faster advancement.  With technology at its fever pitch, this demographic believes that problems can be worked out, and procedures learned, at a pace that shortens career advancement.
  • They also want to avoid mundane tasks, experiencing work with immediate purpose.
  • Customizable benefits.
  • Challenges.
  • Stepping-stone overseas work performed in tandem with older workers.
  • Flexibility and autonomy in problem solving.  They want to be a part of the process.
  • Internet-like access to the work environment.
  • Skill development.
  • Urban areas like Boston, New York and Los Angeles.
  • Flexible hours (81%).
  • Independent work (70%).
  • Job stability and enjoyability/variety (50%-38%).
  • Leadership (25%).



While marketing jobs, employers can free up time knowing what millennials AREN’T looking for.  The wide brush has painted this age group as intense, overly social-aware team players.

Actually, many don’t care about team rewards. They DON’T want to job hop if they can help it, contrary to popular belief.  They just won’t settle for inexact career matches.