The industry is facing the dilemma of how best to market to and recruit a generation that is uniquely different.
U.S. Wood Products industry members constantly strive to determine how to best promote and position their industry and products. Studies show that many in the public know little about the industry or the variety of wood products produced and hold a generally negative perception of the industry (Baldwin 2004, Stout et al. 2020).
In addition to combating public perception and unfamiliarity, the industry also faces a labour problem. As older employees retire, enticing younger generations to work in a field that they know little about or are not interested in makes it challenging to fill empty positions with skilled employees.
Millennials (individuals born between 1980-2000) are the biggest generation in the United States’ workforce and consumer market and, thus, a major driving force of the economy. Conversations among industry professionals at offices, conferences, and tradeshows over best practices to engage new generations of potential employees have intensified. The industry is facing the dilemma of how best to market to and recruit a generation that is uniquely different.
In contrast to previous generations, millennials grew up during the age of digital technological advancement. For them, computers, cell phones, and the internet have always been the norm and they are accustomed to having relationships with companies and public figures through social media platforms. They are considered brand-loyal, socially conscious, and environmental advocates.
While older generational employees are considered loyal to their employers and tend to stay at a company for years, millennials tend to change companies and positions frequently. How do these characteristics impact the wood products industry that is dependent on unique skills that are not easily taught or easily replaced?