Saturday, May 8, 2021

Millennials and the Modular Housing Industry

Each generation since the beginning of time has been a challenge for the previous generation to understand, influence and teach. My parents often told me that Richard Pryor and the Beatles were ruining my generation.

Millennials are the key to modular construction’s future and just like our parents, we are finding it hard to communicate our needs through training to this unique generation.

One of the bright sides the Millennial worker brings to our industry is their embracing new technology. They intuitively know how the newest high-tech things work. The Boomer generation had to read the instruction manual just to hook up our Atari to the TV. They also don’t feel that traditional classroom learning is as valuable as the act of simply gathering knowledge. Even Boomers use now YouTube and Google before looking through dozens of reports and books. Training through interaction is becoming a better way for them to learn new skills. Imagine assembling training lessons produced simply by videoing a couple of experienced Boomers and a few Millennials talking about what should be the next big thing in modular construction. If you’re the Boomer this is probably the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard. However, the Millennial would think this the perfect way to learn what has been tried in the past and encourage them to work on a new solution. Sharing that video with others in your company, both Boomer and Millennial workers just might get our industry talking to one another like we have never seen before. So how does a modular home factory begin a training program for the Millennial worker and even the Gen Z worker, especially for the new hire on the production floor?

One of the first things needed is a flexible e-training program that can be watched or read through many different devices. To see exactly what I mean go to your website and see how easy it is to view and browse. Now go to your cell phone and visit your site. Surprise! In almost every case it looks different than your website as it has been revamped to fit the phone’s screen size and touch feature.

How will your Millennial or Gen Z new hire see your company’s training program? As a huge waste of time trying to teach them something or as something that can we viewed in mini videos on their cell phone? And which do you think will be remembered more accurately. Retention by video is almost twice classroom retention for a Millennial.

Believe it or not, YouTube has taught us to have a “hands-on” experience but it’s not our own hands that are experiencing it. For fun, visit YouTube and search how to change the cabin filter in your make and year of car. I’ll bet someone has a video of exactly how to do it.

The Millennial worker doesn’t share the Boomer's love of conventional instruction. Adding ways for them to discover new techniques that could lead to better methods is what they crave and what we see as criticism of our production methods they see as presenting a solution to a problem we might not even realize we had.
For example, I recently had my oil changed at one of those big franchise stores where you can watch the worker working on your car. Halfway through the process, I noticed one of the workers at another car stop working, pull out his phone and watch a video as I could see it playing.

He quickly came inside, talked to the manager and they went to the customer to inform them that there was a problem with something under the car and they should take it to a mechanic as soon as possible. All this simply from the Millennial worker recognizing something might be wrong, Googling it and finding an answer.
The Millennial worker loves to be challenged and training in whatever form you use has to be available to them even when they are not working. Inspiration comes to them at the weirdest times.

There are some pitfalls to avoid if you want to retain the Millennial worker. First, don’t simply feed them just technical information. Add leadership and management to your training.

Remember, Millennials are quickly becoming your new management team if they aren't running it already.

Failure to mentor them and give them feedback, things which they want even if they don’t come right out and tell you, is very important to them. They are information sharks devouring every scrap of knowledge they can find. There is no way to completely satisfy this thirst for knowledge and that could be a big challenge for many in the modular construction industry where things just seem to be done “the way we’ve always done it”.

Lastly, they are super communicative sharing information about your company, their bosses, their fellow workers and maybe even your lack of ‘keeping up with the latest technology through all their social media sources. That can be the best thing for your company as it looks to hire new Millennials or the absolute worst.

Attention Millennials: What goes around comes around.

And what do you think the Millennials will do when the Gen Z generation enters the workplace? Will they challenge you like every generation in history has done before them? You betcha!

Gary Fleisher is the Managing Director and contributor to the Modcoach Network and its affiliated blogs. Email at

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