Construction companies by nature employ a diverse age range of workers. At Graham Group Ltd., a Canadian construction firm that earns $2 billion in annual revenue, the focus is squarely on connecting employees in a more efficient manner. (For more on this topic, read CIO Insight's full report, "Managing a Multigenerational Workforce.")
It's no small challenge. The company has many 50- to 60-year-old engineers working alongside 20- to 30-year-olds, says EVP and CIO Kim Johnson. Work styles and the use of technology vary greatly. This has left executives asking key questions, including:
- How can we hang onto experienced senior employees who might be eyeing retirement?
- How can we recruit talented young workers?
- How can we keep older workers up to date with technology?
- How can we train younger workers so they are prepared for more complex assignments?
Johnson has focused on providing training materials online and making them available on demand. The company has also turned to two-way mentoring, which allows senior employees to pass on knowledge about work processes, while younger employees teach technology skills to their older counterparts. Finally, Graham Group has established standards, practices and policies focusing on the use of the Internet and social networking.
"Every generation has different preferences, but it's important to recognize that issues are sometimes related to [personal] rather than generational differences," he explains. "[Some] older workers are often more resistant to new technology, while [some] younger workers are impatient about the slow pace of change or adoption. At the end of the day, it's about keeping an open mind, communicating and accepting change that benefits the organization."