Perceptions about millennial workers within the construction and engineering sector being lazy and disloyal are inaccurate and wrong, according to an American report which may yield useful insights for employers in Australia.

In the report, North Carolina based management consulting outfit FMI says millennials – otherwise known as ‘Generation Y’ and referring to those born between 1980 and 2000 – were often misunderstood, including those who work in engineering and construction.

Based upon survey responses and interviews with more than 400 individuals who work in the building and engineering sector across the United States, the survey found that:

  • Contrary to perceptions about them being disloyal, almost three-quarters of millennials in the construction sector expect to remain with their current employer for more than five years.
  • Contrary to perceptions about them being lazy or having a sense of entitlement, 67 per cent of millennials said they would be willing to work beyond what is required in order to help their company succeed (against 60 per cent of non-millennials), while 51 per cent (against 41 per cent of non-millennials) strongly agree with the statement that they are interested in challenging work assignments.
  • 98 per cent say it is important for them to understand their career path and opportunities within their company
  • Competitive pay, work-life balance and personal development are key considerations for millennials in terms of keeping them engaged.

According to the report, a critical aspect associated with engaging in millennials revolves around placing emphasis on the appealing aspects of the building industry.

By emphasising the different and unique challenges associated with each assignment and project, employers can instil in their workers a greater sense of purpose, it says.

While the research was performed in the United States, it is likely that many of its findings would be relevant to Australia, where the construction sector faces significant challenges in terms of attracting sufficient numbers of people into the profession to replace retiring workers and accommodate growth activity within the sector.

FMI content director Sabine Hoover said millennials share similar attributes to Generation Xers when it comes down to career aspirations, attitudes and objectives.

“While the stigma exists that millennials are entitled, disloyal and lazy, it appears that this is not true,” she said.

Of the 400 participants surveyed and interviewed, around 200 were from the millennial generation and 200 were non-millennials.