How younger workers are reshaping the FM industry

Commentators are beginning to divide younger people into two distinct groups. There are the “millennials” that we hear about all the time. This is the generation that grew up with IT at school and then took to the internet in droves. Their working life has always involved the use of technology. But there’s an even younger group, called Generation Z – the smartphone generation. They expect all of their interactions to be available via a phone and the phone dominates their use of media and their internet interactions.

As baby boomers reach the end of their working lives and retire, the recruitment demand for skilled employees (including FM professionals, of course), is soaring. But companies looking to recruit Millennials and Generation Z are going to have to provide the kind of workspaces that these new employees want, to attract the right kind of talent. What does this mean for facilities management companies?

Engage, inform and involve

One of the key differences with the new workers is that they expect to be engaged, informed and involved. The FM industry has sometimes had a “command and control” attitude, where pragmatism was the key virtue, and carrying out instructions without questioning them was the norm. This isn’t going to wash with Generation Z. They will want to know the reasons that things are being done in the way they are.

They won’t automatically respect greater knowledge either. After all, in the age of the Youtube video telling you how to do practically everything, knowing stuff doesn’t have the cachet that it used to. Instead, they’ll respect how FM managers apply that knowledge.

This is particularly true when it comes to values. In the past, FM professionals weren’t expected to have a set of guiding principles. With the rise of concern for the environment, facilities management is far more political than it was in the past. Generation Z is going to want work that is meaningful, and not in contradiction with its values and beliefs.

How to recruit the best

Mobile phone technology is second nature to “Zs”, and with the increasing use of voice technology, its place in FM should be assured. So if Zs go for an interview with a company that has paper-based or PC-only systems, they’re going to feel that they’re entering the Dark Ages.

It’s surprising how much potential candidates can glean about a company’s attitude to technology simply from the recruitment process. A paper letter, with a map and directions for an interview, tells the potential recruit that the company is unlikely to be involved in anything innovative. Clunky email attachments aren’t much better. These people will be setting out for their interview with a phone, so companies need to make sure that their profile and methods are completely mobile-friendly.

And importantly, even when Zs are starting at the bottom, they want their contribution to be recognised. So as well as recognising teamwork, managers skilled at recruiting and engaging this age group make a point of recognising their individual contribution too.