After several tough years of recession, forecasts put the construction industry on a slow upswing. Projected increases in commercial work should infuse communities with development projects and create more construction jobs than in past years.
While this is great news for the construction industry, it poses a problem for employers that need to hold on to their skilled workers in order to grow and be profitable. Companies that cut employee pay and benefits to keep the business going during lean years may find valuable workers will start looking for new positions as opportunities open up.
According to the 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report
, nearly half of workers surveyed (49 percent) admitted they are somewhat likely to look for a new job in the next year, and 27 percent are very likely or extremely likely to look. A majority of these workers identify themselves as the kind of employees business owners don’t want to lose. Of employees surveyed, those who are very likely or extremely likely to look for a new job say the following qualities describe them fairly or extremely well:
- hard worker (90 percent);
- high achiever at work (79 percent); and
- ambitious (64 percent).
Unlike many sectors that rely on technology to increase productivity, construction depends heavily on its skilled workforce, so losing hardworking, well-trained employees presents real problems for business leaders. Why Workers Leave and What Employers Can Do
Knowing what’s on employees’ minds can help management understand how to retain the company’s best workers. The Aflac survey sheds some light on factors that play a role in the decision to leave a current employer.
- One-third of workers who don’t believe retaining employees is a priority for their employers say they are likely to leave.
- Workers who say they are stressed out are nearly twice as likely (43 percent versus 25 percent) to leave their job compared to workers who are not stressed.
- Twenty-eight percent of employees who are extremely likely to leave their job in the next 12 months say they don’t have peace of mind.
While employers may assume salary is the most important factor in deciding whether to look for a new job, benefits play a major role in employees’ assessments of whether their employer is taking care of them. According to the Aflac survey, workers who are extremely satisfied or very satisfied with their benefits program are six times more likely to stay with their employer than those who are dissatisfied with their benefits program. More than 75 percent of employees who said they’re likely to look for a job also said they’d be at least somewhat likely to accept a job offer that came with a more robust benefits package and lower compensation.
Offering flexible benefits plans is important for companies that want to prevent workers from being hired by a competitor. An immediate step employers can take is to review their current benefits programs and identify ways to add more incentives. The Aflac survey found 33 percent of workers say their current benefits package only somewhat meets their family’s needs and another 15 percent say it doesn’t meet their family’s needs at all. Thirty-two percent believe their benefits package is less competitive than that of their peers. No-Cost Solutions
Added pressure to increase benefits offerings can put employers in a difficult situation—particularly small business owners whose budgets have been severely impacted by the economic slowdown. One way both large and small construction companies can diversify their benefits program is to offer employees supplemental or voluntary insurance options. These employee-paid options give employees the opportunity to apply for additional insurance coverage—such as accident, dental, vision, life, short-term disability, hospital intensive care and critical illness policies—without adding to the employer’s benefits costs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
, construction laborers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Emergencies can happen at any time on any jobsite, and unplanned medical expenses that go beyond major health coverage may be more than a family is prepared to handle.
Supplemental insurance can help protect employees from unanticipated expenses. In the event of a covered accident or illness, policyholders receive cash benefits (unless otherwise assigned) to help pay for costs of treatment or daily living expenses that are not reimbursed, such as rent, gas, groceries and child care. This can be a great value for construction workers who are injured and may not be able to return to work before a full recovery.
Additionally, the chance of becoming disabled at some point during a person’s working years is higher than most people think. The Council for Disability Awareness
and the Social Security Administration
estimate the odds of someone who enters the workforce today becoming disabled for three months or more during his or her working career are about 30 percent.
Voluntary short-term disability insurance is a no-direct-cost solution for employers that want to provide some financial security for their employees. According to the Aflac survey, 58 percent of employees don’t have a financial plan for dealing with unexpected life challenges or events. Providing access to supplemental insurance policies, including those that help employees cope with out-of-pocket costs associated with serious accidents or illnesses, can be a good deal for both companies and workers. Relieving stress and giving workers added reassurance about their finances can go a long way toward demonstrating an employer cares about its workers. Focus on Well-Being
Rebound in the construction industry means competition for the best employees will heat up. Business owners can position themselves to be successful in recruiting and retaining highly skilled workers by demonstrating they care about their employees’ well-being. A robust benefits package that gives employees added financial protection and peace of mind can differentiate companies and give them a clear advantage when it comes to retaining their workforce.