Attracting tradies: Why you need to change your work culture

You’re probably having staff issues, right? Hiring tradies is hard, getting staff to follow systems and structures is a struggle, poor attitudes are a thing, why in the heck don’t these younger tradies stick around for long? You know what, it could be you, not them. But you’re the boss, you get to call the shots! Well, not exactly.

As a trade business owner and leader, your business has to appeal to millennials (Gen Y) and Generation Z, the even younger generation who has crept right up behind them. It’s up to you to learn what they’re looking for in the workplace, and balance these expectations with your expectations of the work culture you’re creating.

Quick reference: Gen Y (born 1981-1996) and Gen Z (born 1997 and 2012).

With this in mind, here’s how you need to change your work culture.

What’s on their job wishlist?

Millennials and Gen Z-ers put salary and work-life balance at the top of their wish list. Financial security has more relevance for Gen Z than millennials, who aren’t as motivated by money as their younger counterparts. Still, both generations tend to be job-hoppers. Why? Low engagement in the workplace is considered a major factor.

Are you giving your younger tradies a reason to stay?

There’s two generations share many common values and attributes, including:

1. Workplace flexibility = higher employee engagement

Younger people want flexibility. 

They’re less willing to sacrifice their lives for work, which is why workplace flexibility has many benefits for them. It’s known to create higher employee engagement, increased job satisfaction, fewer sick days, improved mental health, increased productivity, plus, with flexibility, they’re willing to stay with the same employer for a longer period. 

In the trade business world, there’s a legacy of set work hours — typically around 7:00am-3:30pm, with overtime and weekend work. As a tradie boss, what can you do to make your workplace more attractive from a flexibility perspective? Would RDOs appeal to younger tradies, for example? Perhaps you can ask them what they’d value?

If you genuinely want to attract and retain younger tradies in your business, it’s important you consider flexibility as part of your workplace culture, not a perk.

2. Provide real-time feedback

By providing frequent feedback, you’re showing your younger tradies that you and the business are interested in them. If you’re doing it already, factor in regular opportunities to discuss any feedback with your Gen Y and Gen Z team members. While this may not have been done in your day, you’ve got to move on from seeing things through your own lens and consider the situation from your employee’s viewpoint.

While this feedback helps to address any problems and resolve them quickly, it’s also a way to recognise and celebrate the good work of your tradies. If you’re honest with yourself, would you say your workplace embraces providing feedback and suggestions, both formally and informally? Do you encourage your team members to offer feedback on how to make improvements in the way the business operates?

3. They’re tech lovers — are you?

Millennials love their technology, but Gen Z takes their affection for technology to an entirely new level. They’re the first true digital natives, as they can’t remember a time without the internet. Yes, really. Gen Zers are rarely seen without their smartphones or another connected gadget in hand — tech is automatically their “go-to” solution.

What does this mean for you as a trade business owner, keen to attract talented Gen Y and Gen Z tradies? If you’re still reliant on a paper trail, your website looks like it was created too long ago (and it’s not mobile responsive), you’re old-school in their eyes — and the assumption is, you’re old-school and will be stuck in your old ways.

This is not going to do you any favours in attracting them to your business.

4. Offer education options

Both millennials and Gen Z-ers members value chances to upskill and develop themselves personally and professionally. You can provide this value in numerous ways. What are you doing to satisfy your tradie’s desire to be better? Have you considered how to incorporate this message into your recruitment material? 

Finally, you’re banging your head against a brick wall if you think Gen Y and Gen Z-ers will stay in your trade business for the long term, if you’re not catering to what THEY want in the workplace. If the onus is on you, are you to be on the front foot.

What’s next?

  1. Want to know more about Lifestyle Tradie membership? Book a Game Plan Call with Andy to see if it’s a good fit for you.
  2. Download our free Survive the Sh*t Storm resources.
  3. Join our free Kick-Ass Tradies Facebook group to learn how to set team targets using your business’s break-even point.