In the Know: Attracting younger generations to the propane industry

February 8, 2018 By    

When hiring millennials, it is important to provide a career path. Make sure they understand what they can achieve by working with your company long term. Photo: iStock.com/Kerkez

In the Know is a monthly partnership between LP Gas magazine and Propane Resources. Our focus this month is on technology, addressed by consultant Cooper Wilburn.

Q: What can the propane industry do to attract more young people to its workforce?

A: When it comes to attracting younger generations to the propane industry, you will need to understand where their motivation lies.

Millennials (born between 1982 and 2002) have become the largest generation in history and will, according to Forbes, make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. Some millennials could be characterized as creative, productive, curious, ambitious and driven.

The generation just now joining the workforce is known to think quite differently than your baby boomer and Gen X co-workers. According to John Zogby, author of “First Globals: Understanding, Managing & Unleashing the Potential of Our Millennial Generation,” “Eighty-five percent of millennials want work that makes a difference and is enriching to themselves as well as the world. And 71 percent want to work for a company or entity that encourages some form of global, community or social responsibility. Each of those numbers is dramatically higher than the other age cohorts.”

The typical millennial is productive and achievement oriented. When looking for a job, millennials look at the big picture: career advancement and overall job satisfaction. The primary motivating factor isn’t necessarily going to be salary. When hiring millennials, it is important to provide a career path. Make sure they understand what they can achieve by working with your company long term.

Attracting millennials will require you to dive deep into your day-to-day employee benefits – flexible hours, more vacation and employee-support programs such as mentorships and professional development plans. This is where the propane industry can take advantage of its seasonal business. Why not have perks where you get significant time off in the summer? In most propane operations, it would be an advantage to hire employees for 10 months per year. Why not give employees the other two months off?

Another important part of captivating the younger generations is to create a challenging work environment. On the surface, it may look like millennials are impatient and have poor work ethic because they jump from job to job and constantly seek new positions and responsibilities. But this is largely untrue. It is mainly boredom from an unchallenging job or position that causes them to look elsewhere.

Let drivers learn the routing system; send them to National Propane Gas Association certification classes to learn new skills. Enroll a customer service representative in a credit and collections, customer service or social media marketing webinar or course(s). These types of learning experiences will give your employees the motivation and confidence to do their jobs and take on additional roles.

Just like with any generation, there are great workers who want to succeed. Discovering what is motivating about the job and your company will get the millennial generation in the door. Keeping that younger generation will require you and the industry to continually provide a challenge for these individuals.


Cooper Wilburn is a consultant at Propane Resources. He can be reached at cooper@propaneresources.com or 913-262-0196.

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