Haydn Shaw to Speak at AGC of Alaska Conference
By Rindi White
portrait of Haydn Shaw on the street
Haydn Shaw to Speak at AGC of Alaska Conference
By Rindi White

illions in federal funding will flow to Alaska in the coming years, thanks to the passage of legislation aimed at getting the American economy moving and shoring up infrastructure along the way.

But the number of job openings in the construction industry outpaces the number of workers lining up to work. In June, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics released a labor turnover survey that showed construction industry job openings increased by 129,000 in February while hiring decreased by 18,000.

Attracting new workers, and especially encouraging young workers and second-career employees to consider construction, is the focus of many Associated General Contractors, or AGC, of Alaska members, volunteers, and staff.

What is the best way to appeal as an employer to Gen Z workers? How does the workplace need to change to encourage those workers to stay? How can employers and company leaders understand and motivate workers of different generations?

Haydn Shaw—a speaker, consultant, and trainer specializing in helping people of different generations find middle ground and ways to communicate effectively—will answer those questions when he gives his keynote address at the 2023 Annual AGC of Alaska conference, scheduled for November 8-11 at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage.

Shaw, based in Illinois, helps managers and organizations raise their “generational IQ” so they can reduce turnover and work more effectively with a multigenerational workforce. He’s been speaking on this range of topics for more than 25 years, and more than 100,000 people have attended his “Leading Across Generations” and “Working Across Generations” workshops. He is the author of Sticking Points: How to Get 5 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart.

For AGC, Shaw says he’ll be speaking about varying expectations between different generations, how people of different generations are motivated and how to retain workers.

Sticking Points by Haydn Shaw Book Cover
“When older generations get baffled by younger generational attitudes, the biggest challenge is understanding those attitudes. It’s not a far step from being puzzled to being frustrated and no longer being curious,” he says. “If we don’t get curious and try to understand why they say ‘no’ about things we said ‘yes’ to, and ‘yes’ to things we said ‘no’ to, we won’t understand.”

For some younger generations, money isn’t enough of a motivating factor to spend a whole summer working and not enjoying all the things that summer brings, for example—especially for people who live in northern states like Alaska where summer is brief and often full of the activities that draw people to live here. Alaska isn’t alone in facing this challenge; Shaw says he recently spoke with people in Michigan who have a similar dilemma.

The trick lies in finding how to attract and motivate those workers, or in finding trade-offs that work for both employers and employees. That’s part of what Shaw plans to explore in November.

The construction industry has strengths that can be tapped into, he says. Often younger generations seek work that provides meaning, not just money. While Shaw says every generation in the workplace today appears to value money more than meaning, but for Millenials and Generation Z, the “meaning” component of their work is important.

“The great thing about the construction industry is that it’s all about building for the future. It’s also psychologically and inherently rewarding in that you can see progress,” Shaw says. “There are some inherently motivating things that can attract people who sometimes get left out of the equation.”

Rindi White is the editor of The Alaska Contractor magazine. Photos provided by Haydn Shaw.