Economist keynoters set the stage by forecasting a recession that will be long but shallow�and definitely global. But the Construction Users Roundtable, meeting at its national convention, didn�t dwell on the negative. Attendees explored how to at�tract and retain the next-generation workforce as well as core issues like safety and cutting-edge contract documents. Jocelyn E. Scott, vice president of engineering for DuPont and chairwoman of the event that drew almost 500 attendees to Rancho Mirage, Calif., Nov. 10-12, said CURT turned to member-firm �millennials,� construction peers born after 1981, for ideas about future workers. Committee members interviewed them and presented findings. For example, La��mont Johnson, a field engineer for BE&K, said the top five factors in retaining young employees are an attractive work environment, compensation, training and de�velopment, opportunities to ad�vance and, most importantly, recognition.

Photo: Janice L. Tuchman/ENR
(From left to right) Natasha McCurry, Lamont Johnson, Justina Quinney, John Stanton and Julia Nicolae, who all work for CURT members, helped develop programming about millennials.


Egon Larsen, CURT president and global construction manager for Air Products & Chemicals Inc., reported that CURT has grown from eight members companies in 2000 to 87 in 2008. His goal is to make CURT flexible organizationally to be ready for its growth to 100 companies by 2011 or before. Expanding the group outside of the U.S. is “not if but when for CURT,” he said. He contacted seven owners in Asia about benchmarking, and all are in­terested. Craig Martin, president and CEO of Jacobs, told attendees about the company’s innovative safety program that goes beyond the intellectual to the emotional realm. Jacobs patterned its efforts after sprinters who are taught to run 10 yards past the finish line and called the new program “Beyond Zero.” Everyone struggles with what this means, Martin said, but all interpretations are possible: It can mean going home healthier than you came to work or expanding safety and health efforts to family and neighbors. “We emphasize people, not statistics, and employees share beyond-zero moments in person and on video. It’s been a tipping point.”


Jim Frey, senior vice president of Alberici Group, shared his success with the ConsensusDOCS 300 multiparty collaborative agreement. “It not only can work—it did work” on a $46-million children’s hospital expansion, he said. The  owner, architect, mechanical-electrical engineer and contractor made decisions by consensus and shared in the savings—2.1% of the original construction budget. The project had no disputes or claims and only 63 RFIs compared to 2,600 on a similar project with a standard contract. Chad Holliday, chairman and CEO of DuPont, acknowledged the challenge of coming to grips with recession. After realizing that Toyota, a key customer, was worried, he knew “we should be worried, too.” Managers were telling him everything was OK, but Holliday called a DuPont “corporate crisis meeting” to reevaluate business. He knew the crisis would be both a hazard and an opportunity. While some capacity expansions will be pushed out by  two or three years, others products will be speeded up, in the alternative-energy sector, for example. “We will have the same construction spending but with a different mix,” he said.

In the workplace millennials expect�
Opportunities for training and growth.
Consistency and fairness in management.
State-of-the art computers and equipment.
A positive, optimistic workplace.
Compensation commensurate with their perceived financial requirements.
Opportunities for advancement within a defined time frame.
A work environment that allows for the completion of personal tasks as long as the employer�s work gets done.
sOURCE: Robert W. Wendover, The Center for Generational Studies