Friday, August 24, 2018

Gen Z is Arriving and Bringing Major Problems for Modular Home Factories

Generation Z, those born between the mid 1990’s and 2010 are basically still classified as Millennials (Gen Y), will have a major impact on labor shortage already hitting modular home factory production lines.


Within just one decade many modular factories will either have to move into automated production lines or simply resign themselves to closing their doors. The Gen Z crowd is not business as usual and actually make older Millennials look like real “hands on labor” and we all know that isn’t true.

A good example is one of my neighbors. He is a cyber security Geek that while still in high school won several national awards for his cyber abilities. In the Summer between his junior and senior years of high school he was a paid intern for the DOD. In his senior year he worked 24 hours a week for the DOD while in high school and upon graduating was offered full time employment and put in charge of the eleven older coworkers in his department. He also spends his evenings doing paid Beta testing for the online computer game industry. Last week he formed an LLC and began buying property in our town.

Not too bad for a GEN Z that won’t turn 18 until December of this year. By the way, the reason he doesn't own a car or have his own apartment is he is not old enough to get either without a cosigner. It would cost him too much so he is waiting until his 18th birthday.

In ten years a factory’s older workforce will be hitting retirement age and so will most of the modular factory top management staff. The Millennials and the newer Gen Z pool of people wanting to work in the construction industry will never keep up with those leaving it.


If you thought that Gen Y wasn’t all about the money, wait until you meet job candidates from Gen Z. Sure, a fat paycheck sounds nice—it can’t sound bad—but it won’t be enough to attract this younger generation. Less than 30% of Gen Z will even consider staying on board because of a fat paycheck.

They are focused on career advancement opportunities and other things you have to offer that aren't money related. Working your production line 40 hours for a steady paycheck isn’t one of them.

They are also very skeptical that your company won’t be around very long. They watched how their families struggled during the last housing crisis while many family homes went into foreclosure. They would rather join a company using the latest technology than a factory that hasn’t upgraded the way they’ve been doing business for the past 20 years.

Even though they may be quicker to jump ship remember to talk about what your company can offer them long term. Their skepticism is real and showing them that your factory can provide for them well into their future can be quite reassuring to them.

The Gen Z’s have grown up with social media, non-personal relationships, Googling, individual sports rather than team sports. They enjoy working on solutions to problems by themselves and setting their own goals. Gen Z young women and men have a huge entrepreneurial spirit.

Gen Z doesn’t want to waste time in the office doing busy work. Forget those boring sales reports and endless production reviews that aren’t read by anyone. They can smell those a mile off and will shut down. When they’re on, they’re on; but when they don't need to be, they don’t want to waste time.

Measure both the Millennials and the Gen Z’s work by its quality and not its quantity. By doing this you will give them the respect they are seeking and will absolutely surprise you with their ingenuity and resourcefulness. The old standards need to disappear soon or you will find your factory’s production levels dropping quickly as the years add up.

The younger the employee the more they want to be socially active in the community. Starbucks just began a program in several major cities where 40 hour a week employees will only be required to work 20 hours in the store and allow the employee to give 20 hours to volunteering in their communities. And they will still be paid for 40 hours. Starbucks feels this is one of the best ways to keep their young workers with the company longer.

Gen Z workers want and even desire to work with others but want the feeling they are recognized for their individual efforts.

Gone are the days of posting a job opening on the production line and getting 5 applications. Today you won’t get any if you haven’t begun to understand and retool yourself and your factory for this new Gen Z worker.

5 comments:

Harry Cooper said...

I am having a hard time with this post. While the assessment of Gen Z is probably accurate in the suburban environment near major metropolitan areas, stories like this are not so common in the farm belt or well outside of the megalopolis on the Eastern Seaboard or West coast.

There is no doubt that the construction industry is in crisis and that training in hard skills like construction is practically nonexistent. Modular factories will have to both increase automation and become training centers where this generation can learn and thrive. We still have a very disadvantaged segment of our population that has lost its way in our society. There is plenty of room to embrace this segment, bring the the skills and belonging they need to be successful. Modular factories can play a significant role in this process and create a win-win.

Anonymous said...

With an article title like that, it's less surprising that younger generations are turned off of this industry. There's little or no accountability for older generations.

josh margulies said...

Aint so Gary! They are not all geeks and gender confused. In the heartland they are still kids and they do not all go to college.

This gloom and doom is not an accurate forecast. The money is there and the money AINT where it was. With the immigration problem on the mend, our kids will work again.

Anonymous said...

Talking to many of the people who work in the factories, they are having a hard time hiring people. The top two problems are:
1. They can't pass a "drug test".
2. If and when hired, they quit within the first week for various reasons.

These kids want to work, but somehow the industry needs to come up with ideas on how to communicate (training included) to these "kids" as the vast majority of them are not "old school" and cannot accept the those "old school" methods...

Just sayin....

josh margulies said...

The piss test is problematic. Solving that problem would be a game changer.