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R.H. White Construction Engaging Millennials on Workplace Perspectives

  • 29 June 2017

Second Annual Mentoring Program to Begin in July

Just Google the keyword phrase, “Millennials in the Workplace” and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of search results.  Generational issues in business have always been fodder for focus groups, seminars and human resource training programs, but Millennials, with their lifetime technological savviness and direct communication style, have really changed the work landscape.

The subject intrigued Kim Dunn, R.H. White Companies Vice President of Shared Services, so much that she took action and launched an internal program at the business.  Instead of a top-down approach to mentoring she employed the reverse and invited Millennials to mentor her and other senior leaders of the company.

The premise was simple and Dunn didn’t overthink the approach.  She simply put out a call to all Millennials in the company and explained that she wanted to develop a better understanding of what’s important in the workplace to them. She challenged those interested in becoming Millennial Mentors to provide a brief, creative and thought-provoking response, within one to two sentences, stating why they were interested. From there she would select individuals with the most interesting statements.

“After attending several leadership conferences on generational differences I became passionate about gaining a better understanding of the young adults that were entering our workforce. By understanding what motivates and attracts them to companies I can help adapt R.H. White to more effectively meet their expectations and ensure we remain an attractive and effective employer for young professionals in the workplace.”, Dunn stated.

Millennial Buy-in Critical for Reversed Roles

The actual meeting time commitment was manageable with the expectation of getting together at least once per month for one to two hours over a period of one year.  However, reversing the traditional mentoring role, another requirement was that the Millennials would draft the agenda for each meeting, develop thoughtful topics to be explored and recommend guest speakers or participants when appropriate. Therefore, they needed to provide a road map that would warrant the interest of and appreciate the busy schedules of senior management and other employees who may be participating in various discussions.

Dunn’s first Millennials were Alex Judson, Assistant Project Manager, Building Construction Division and Peter Gerhard, Assistant Project Manager, Mechanical Services, Construction Services Division. And, by all accounts, the initial program was a success.

“I think Millennials often feel that our ideas and opinions aren’t taken seriously.  I feel we’re the future of the workplace and this program helped me to further identify the many positive qualities of being a Millennial.  I’m happy I can be part of it at R.H. White.”, said Judson.

Gerhard added, “As I went through the program, I realized that I had more questions and opinions about the company than I realized. It was a great opportunity to have an ongoing dialogue with a senior manager of the company to explore them.  The program also helped to increase my communication and meeting etiquette skills.”

They also learned, from others outside of R.H. White, that more companies are providing similar programming for their Millennials.  Gerhard mentioned that his girlfriend is now taking part in a program with her employer.  While Judson learned that one of R.H. White’s large corporate customers, where he recently helped manage the construction of a new building, also has a program.  He said, “When one of my contacts at that company learned R.H. White was investing in this type of program, she was very impressed.  She continued to share information on their internal program with me and also provided me with articles and other information that proved to be very valuable to the development of our meetings with Kim and others.”

More Millennials Answering the Call     

Based on the positive results of the program Dunn once again put out the call to the R.H. White roster and will be kicking off her second session, with three additional Millennials, in July.  “I learned that we can learn from all ages, experiences and backgrounds of employees as long as we open ourselves up to it.  Millennials have so much to contribute to the organization, we just need to listen to their ideas.”, she stated.

Participants in the second session include, Jason Shell, Safety Officer, Hayden Brown, Assistant Estimator and Justin Wood, Assistant Project Manager, Utility Construction Division.

Dunn is excited to get started and learn more. She remarked, “Alex and Peter became my sounding board and advisors on many current and future projects. Being open to new ideas and understanding different perspectives has helped me think differently about future R.H. White employees.  I look forward to what Jason, Hayden and Justin will bring to the table.”.

This is just one of many workplace development training programs that the R.H. White Companies provides to its employees.  The company makes a significant annual investment in training of its employees with a myriad of topics related to safety, leadership development, skills and licensing and other professional development.  In 2015 the company opened the newly constructed Leonard H. White Training Center to help facilitate its long-held mission to employee development and training. To learn more visit www.rhwhite.com.