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As the country’s demographics change and the emerging workforce is pulled toward other industries, construction companies are challenged with attracting qualified workers while retaining existing talent. Employers have a smaller pool of prospective workers from which to draw.

To overcome these challenges, contractors should create and aggressively execute an employee recruiting and retention plan that revolves around establishing a “preferred place of employment” mindset within the management team. As a result, a team of high-caliber, loyal and dependable employees—“superstars”—will evolve.

Following are a few recruitment-related action items to consider.
  • Leverage social media. To elevate a company’s presence and activity in the industry, showcase its exciting projects. Share news and stories. Demonstrate organizational camaraderie. Communicate the benefits of completed projects (e.g., the new hospital heals sick and injured kids or the freshly paved road leads to the new grocery store and upscale movie theater). When people make an emotional connection with an organization or an industry, they are more likely to be attracted to it.
  • Be visible in the community and at industry-friendly colleges. Encourage and teach employees to be good ambassadors of the company and the industry. The organization should participate in as many events and activities as practical. Sponsor students with industry-related internships and scholarships, or speak at high schools and colleges about starting a career in the construction industry. 
  • Pursue returning veterans. Members of the military are proven, resourceful, hardworking, loyal and dedicated employees who want and need work. Look for organizations such as NCCER, Orion International and Workforce Opportunity Services that connect men and women from the Armed Forces with promising careers.
Recruiting talent can be very costly, and it takes time. To maximize the return on their investment, leaders must put additional effort and energy into keeping their current employees. Following are a few retention-related action items.
  • Establish a formal mentoring program. To realize success, the employees on the team must be driven to succeed, and the mentors must be skilled and inspiring role models. Mentors also must be willing to help others succeed. The program should set specific short- and long-term goals, account for participants’ time commitments and specific responsibilities, establish reasonable expectations and measurements for success, document lessons learned, and recommend additional workforce development tools.      
  • Strengthen the organization’s leadership competencies. Provide the training and coaching necessary to improve employees’ leadership skills, performance and behaviors using a variety of assessment and evaluation tools. Consider a 360 degree leadership feedback survey to identify opportunities for individual improvement. An employee engagement survey also can help determine whether the organization is strategically aligned. Do not tolerate mediocrity or silos. Build a well-groomed, fully functional team of professionals for whom people want to work.  
  • Use employee engagement as a strategy. Fully engaged employees are passionate about their jobs, committed to the organization and put discretionary effort into their work. A few drivers of success include building an atmosphere of trust, demonstrating respect for employees, treating employees consistently fair, and ensuring leaders’ actions align with the organization’s values. Additionally, teamwork should be displayed in abundance. Growth and advancement opportunities should exist within the organization or industry.
Challenges and competition are not new to the construction industry. Construction companies that are effective at recruiting and retaining superstars—including foremen, supervisors, superintendents and managers—will outperform their competitors in any economic environment. They just need a plan.  

Randy Goruk develops business leaders through his coaching, training and professional speaking services. For more information, email randy@leadersedge360.com or visit www.leadersedge360.com.

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