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OPINION: Improving workplace culture and longevity for today’s workforce

Mark Hill

By Mark Hill

In my 30-plus years with Messer Construction Co. I’ve interacted with scores of college students looking for internships and co-ops, as well as early and mid-level professionals looking for new opportunities. What’s consistent in each of those groups, as I have seen, is a desire for longevity with a company, but a lack of belief that it’s possible. There’s also a growing feeling that millennials – accustomed to participation trophies and regular pats on the back – are job hoppers and lack loyalty. The statistical truth is, millennials are doing the same amount of job hopping as baby boomers did in their respective 20s and early 30s.

It’s time to stop pointing fingers and figure out the fix. Millennials already account for 50 percent of the workforce and are set to make up nearly 75 percent by 2025. As companies and as leaders (myself at an employee-owned company), we have to learn how to meet the needs of our changing workforce. We do that by:

(1) Ensuring opportunity. If we offer our employees the ability to increase their skill sets, participate in decision making on topics that will ultimately affect them, and allow them to be creative and innovative in their respective roles- we in turn show our value for them.

(2) Show appreciation. Acknowledge and recognize late nights and early mornings. It’s no longer acceptable to treat employees as though they should feel lucky to have a job. Our employees are the talent. We are the ones lucky to have them, and if we want to keep them, we have to show our appreciation.

(3) Lead by example. We need to re-examine our own behaviors. Take note of our interactions with our co-workers and employees. Leading by example also means being willing to accept feedback. Few things affect the culture of a company more than the willingness of a leadership team to accept feedback or criticism.

Ensuring positive workplace cultures attract top talent, drives engagement, impacts happiness and satisfaction, and affects overall performance. The responsibility is on us. Meeting these challenges may make the difference between having an employee for three months or for 30 years.

Mark Hill is Vice President and Lexington Region Leader at Messer Construction Co.