There has been a great deal of hand-wringing about the failure of capital projects to attract and keep millennial workers. This is especially true when it comes to highly trained young people like engineers.
Why don’t they want to work on capital projects?
This white paper (1) by Petrochemical Update captures some of the most common questions we ask ourselves as an industry. Is it the image of petrochemical projects as dirty and dangerous? Is it the failure to reach young people when they’re in high school, or the failure to train them when they’re in college? Should we be courting them on Twitter and Facebook, or sending younger representatives to career days and job fairs? Maybe a slick new technical gadget will persuade them to come on board -- holographic construction, anyone?
Maybe some of the answers to these questions will lead to improvements in attracting and retaining young workers, but true leaders have realized by now that we’re asking the wrong questions.
Millennials simply want what everybody wants: A working environment that is intuitive, collaborative and flexible. Young engineers want to learn. They want to be part of a team. They want to be valued, to contribute, and to feel a sense of satisfaction after a job well done. The catch: They want all this from day one.
Giving your millennial workers this experience is possible, through technology. But like healthcare and other complex industries(2), capital projects have struggled to keep pace with technology in a way that mirrors the world millennials have grown up in.
Imagine a life built around seamless technology, in which you socialize, grocery shop, do your banking, watch movies and even pay for your morning coffee -- all with your phone. In school, millennials use cloud-based blackboards, work on challenging projects with colleagues from different disciplines, and are encouraged to present and communicate as much as possible. They’re rewarded for creative, bold thinking.
Then they walk into their first job and are met with legacy IT infrastructure plagued by serious interoperability issues, communication protocols that are constantly breaking down and stacks of unsearchable documents that were already out of date by the time they got back from the printer or the site. There are few opportunities for creativity or meaningful collaboration, and in some cases, little mentorship or learning. Many find themselves waiting for the next cycle just to join a training or a conference once a year. Those who do get the opportunity to work on a large project may never even meet the people in the field or never see the entire scope and of that project. Is it any wonder they struggle to fit in, and then leave?
Some companies try to address this issue by increasing the number of fancy tech toys around the office, but they’re missing the point. It’s not about the technology, it’s about what the technology does. Millennials want workplace technology that allows them to connect and contribute.
The Team Concord (T-CON™) platform was designed by young engineers, under the mentorship of the most experienced of our industry to usher in a new era in capital project management. We’ve built the technology that allows millennial workers to connect and contribute, from day 1.
The multi-disciplinary, fully integrated design of the T-CON™ platform facilitates learning unlike any other capital project management system. It creates a space for unprecedented sharing and collaboration. Every member of the team is valued and empowered.
We’ll continue to hear stories about young engineers’ miserable project experiences until the capital project environment adapts to the unwritten demands of its best and brightest new hires.
The new platform must enable contribution and connection for every member of the team, regardless of how many years they’ve been with the company. The platform must be designed to empower. That is a guiding principle of our mission and we have been inspired by such a mission by Owner and EPC companies who do that on all levels of the project work.
Give your millennial staff a path to meaningful contribution, productivity and value creation, and they just might surprise you.
This article was first published in Velocity™. Velocity™ is the first publication dedicated entirely to innovation and leadership in capital project management. We’re hoping you’ll take a look.
Velocity is produced by the T-CON team, the same people who invented the industry’s first cloud-based platform purpose-built for capital project knowledge development, management and delivery. Velocity is free, and it’s available online and in print.
The first print editing was released earlier this month at the Downstream Engineering & Construction Conference in New Orleans. We’ll be publishing new articles every Friday on our blog.
Request your free copy today!
Read : Spend on people, rather than on IT
(1) https://www.pathfinderinc.com/sites/pathfinderinc.com/files/news-file-downloads/30OCT15_White_paper_Workforce Millennial.pdf