Adapting to the New Workforce

by Clara DeRosier
Executive Director

I recently spoke to the second-year students in the electrical program at Anoka Technical College. They will be graduating in May and ready to apply their knowledge to the real world.

The next generation is excited to take part in this growing industry and they know they are a hot commodity. They will be weighing all of their career options and asking a lot of questions. To have a fighting chance at this talent, your answers will need to meet their needs in this competitive market. Jon Harrison from Harrison Electric joined me and gave two great pieces of advice:

1. Job Shadow
- Give them an opportunity to shadow a JW or Master on your staff
- Get their questions answered
- See how you run your business
- They can make an educated decision if they like your company
- You can make an informed decision on if you like them!

2. Questions
- Give them questions to ask other contractors. Remind them of anything that they may be missing. For example:
- How many electricians has your company laid off in the last few years?
- Are there times in the year when the work is slow? Is my job safe during those times?
- Will you pay for me to enroll in an apprenticeship program? Will you pay for my continuing education?
- What steps will you take to make sure that I obtain my license in a reasonable time frame?

They will leave your office with a better way to make an informed decision on the path that makes the most sense for them and their goals. Putting this type of care into them before they are even hired will be very telling to them as well to the type of company you are running.

Find creative benefits to offer your employees that others may not be doing. Example, offer a 4-hour class on financial planning. Students can learn how to balance a checkbook or put money away for savings and retirement. Mentoring through money management is a way to coach employees on how striving to get licensed or be more productive on the job site (leading to raises) will allow them to put more towards their financial goals. Bakers Brothers in Mesquite, Texas (named top 100 places to work in 2015) has a gentleman on their staff whose title is “Dream Manager.” His role in the company involves meeting with all employees to discuss financial goals – vacations, kids to college, home projects – and then helping them find ways to succeed in their personal dreams.

Communicate what you have to offer, sell your business model and help new talent get excited about the industry and your company.