Today, more than one-in-three workers are millennials. They surpassed Gen-Xer’s to become the largest share of the American workforce this year, according to the Pew Research Center. And, with the growing labor shortage in the HVACR industry, it’s becoming more difficult to find qualified, knowledgeable employees. It’s a common, repetitive theme amongst HVACR contractors — one I hear all the time. So, when they find new employees, it’s important for contractors to keep them.

Many millennials don’t feel the same type of company loyalty as previous generations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials only tend to stay at each job for an average of 18 months. But there are things HVAC contractors can do to make younger employees want to stay. Millennials want different things than their baby boomer and Gen X predecessors. It’s up to contractors to figure out what the younger workforce is looking for and adapt to offer it. Millennials grew up with the Internet and technology, were among the first to own a smartphone, and find companies who limit the use of technology constricting. They’re looking for challenging work with good compensation packages and, oh yeah, they want to be recognized for our efforts.

HVAC consultant Frank Besednjak tackles the topic of Acquiring and Motivating New Employees, in IE3. He recommends HVAC companies offer flexible work schedules, allowing some employees to work four-day work weeks in order to grant them more time off. He makes an excellent point, as many younger workers don’t mind working more hours a day for an additional day away.

Contractors should also consider establishing incentives and rewards programs to promote friendly competition amongst coworkers. They should also provide training and education or mentoring — millennials want to know their company is as invested in their careers as they are. These are the types of things that will attract and retain the next generation of HVACR workers.