More similar than different: Millennials in the U.S. building trades

Kevin Real, Andrea D. Mitnick, William F. Maloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Purpose: The objective of this study is to investigate the extent to which generational differences exist among skilled workers within a single construction trade. Although Millennials have been the focus of attention in media reports and popular management literature, little attention has been paid to empirical examinations of skilled trade workers. Design/Methodology/Approach: This study examined the workplace beliefs and values of three generations of workers within a national sample of skilled construction workers in the United States. A random sample (N = 2,581) of workers belonging to a national building trades union responded to a survey about work ethics, job values, and gender beliefs. Additionally, focus groups were conducted in five U. S. cities in order to develop a richer understanding of this phenomenon. Findings: Results from this study found few meaningful quantitative differences between generations. Millennial workers were more similar than different from other generations in their work beliefs, job values, and gender beliefs. Differences elicited in focus groups were more likely the result of experience, position, or age than generation. Implications: These findings suggest that construction firms should avoid policies and procedures based on generational differences for their skilled trade workers. Instead, firms should focus on practical strategies directed toward communicating and working with younger workers. Originality/Value: The results point to the importance of occupational communities, social class, and other factors in understanding Millennials. These workers are different from the college students or white collar workers used in much prior generational research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-313
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Gender beliefs
  • Generational research
  • Job values
  • Millennial workers
  • Occupational communities
  • Work ethic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Applied Psychology
  • General Psychology


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