5 Strategies to Retain Your Best Employees – Part 5

Pay your employees well in order to retain them.

Pay your employees well in order to retain them.

This is the final installment of a 5-part series about specific strategies you can use in order to retain your best construction employees. You can find the first installment here, the second here, the third here, and the fourth here.

Pay them well

Dad explained to me, when I was quite young, that the wise person “knows which side his bread is buttered on.”  Dad was referring to his relationship with his employer. He knew, that in order to keep his job he had to perform up to a certain standard or he would be on the job hunt. Now-a-days, the roles have shifted somewhat, and it is the construction business owner who must look at his employees when it comes to determining the matter of buttered bread.

At the very least, keep your pay scale in the ballpark of what your market is paying. And, don’t wait until someone leaves to learn what others in your industry are paying. One simple way to check, is to use the information you can find on the website of the recruitment business known as indeed. Go here, enter the job title in the open section of the first block, hit search, and receive a plethora of information. You can refine the search as you progress in order to gain more and more specific information.

Consider the whole cost

If you can’t afford to pay them well, how are you ever going to afford to replace them? When it comes to the cost of employee turnover, you’ll do well to consider the whole picture. This article from Jobsite takes a look at some tangible as well as intangible costs connected with employees walking off your jobsites.

Retain them – parts 1 through 5

Coming full circle, it is time to admit that pay for your employees matters. Yet, if the only thing you offer is a bigger pay package you’re not likely to retain your best employees long-term. In a Harvard Business Review article, titled What Matters More to Your Workforce than Money  the author states, “One of the most striking results we’ve found is that, across all income levels, the top predictor of workplace satisfaction is not pay: It is the culture and values of the organization, followed closely by the quality of senior leadership and the career opportunities at the company.”

This same author goes on to state, “While pay can help get new talent in the door, our research shows it’s not likely to keep them there without real investments in workplace culture: making a commitment to positive culture and values, improving the quality of senior management, and creating career pathways that elevate workers through a career arc in the organization.”

Your turn

Be always on the lookout for ways you can improve the experience for your best employees. Make it a priority. Make it happen.

5 Strategies to Retain Your Best Construction Employees – Part 1

First strategy is creating and passing on the vision.

First strategy is creating and passing on the vision.

Create a great place to work!

This is the first in a five-part series. Find the other posts by clicking on Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5

Everywhere you turn there is another call concerning the lack of qualified construction workers. It is a problem. Many people and organizations are taking steps to try to change the situation for the better. Some examples can be found here, here, here, and here. Yet, the effort isn’t going to be easy and it won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, holding on to the qualified hands you now have will give you a buffer and allow you to weather the storm while the newest guys and gals are attending classes, being trained, and getting up to speed.

It’s time to think about retention in a strategic way. The old “dime a dozen” rule doesn’t work in this day and age. It isn’t as if you have people knocking on your door throughout the day hoping to find a job. It is more likely you’re hard-pressed to keep good construction hands from one job to the next. There are 5 main areas which need to be addressed if you want to hang on to the good folks you already have in your employ.

  1. Passing on your vision
  2. Training your team
  3. Treating them well
  4. Having fun at work
  5. Paying them well

The first strategy is passing on the vision.

Pass on your vision

Don’t be short sighted! Helping your crew understand the vision for your company is worth the effort and it means much more than just a “that’s how it is done around here” speech. This article from Forbes gives much insight into how your company vision can create highly motivated and strongly committed employees. It is well worth the time it takes to read.

Writing and passing on your vision is the first step in creating a great place to work.

Some examples:

“Kitchell is committed to impacting our communities by delivering innovative services through dedicated people and loyal relationships. We provide design, development, construction, facility planning and maintenance services to fulfill the vision of our customers. Together, building value every day.” Kitchell

“Shook is committed to being a construction contractor that is known externally for quality, integrity and resourcefulness, and internally for profitability and employee satisfaction.”Shook Construction

“To be the world’s premier engineering, construction, and project management company. Customers and partners will see us as integral to their success. We will anticipate their needs and deliver on every commitment we make. People will be proud to work at Bechtel. We will create opportunities to achieve the extraordinary, and we will reward success. Communities will regard us as responsible—and responsive. We will integrate global and local perspectives, promote sound management of resources, and contribute to a better quality of life.”Bechtel

“Building Enduring Relationships and Strong Communities”Kraus-Anderson

“To build environments where our clients, employee-owners and communities prosper.”Sundt

Write your vision

The best visions tend to give both an outward (customer) focus as well as in inward (employee) focus. If you don’t have a written vision now is the time! If you do have a written vision, be certain you’re passing it on to those in your employ.

Share your vision

Your vision for your construction company should make it easy to explain business decisions to your employees. Employees tend to do what they think is best according to what they think the boss wants. By telling them what you really want, you give them a means to focus their behavior in ways that benefit themselves as well as the company. Here are a few examples of how other businesses are engaging their employees through their company vision.

An additional benefit is your employees see you as a better leader if you can communicate your vision effectively.

Your 3 step plan

  1. Take time now to write your vision or review and refresh it.
  2. Determine the means you’ll take to begin passing it on.
  3. Begin giving your employees the information they’ll need to follow your vision

P.S. Remember there is a big difference between laying a few bricks and building a cathedral. Be sure your employees know what they’re really doing.

Strategies for Finding and Keeping Good Construction Employees

A successful construction contracting or service business means having great people on your team. Finding and keeping those great people is a vital part of maintaining the success. So, how do you go about not only finding them, but also keeping them around?

Long term thinking

Of course, people who are looking for a job are concerned with both salary and benefits, yet those two items are only part of the equation.

Just as on the sales side of your company it is important to build a reputation for going above the expected with customer care and satisfaction, it is important to build a reputation for providing what potential employees are seeking and giving even more.

You have a number of possibilities concerning the reputation just right for your construction company to attract great employees. And, you can figure out rather quickly which your reputation is more likely to be, because it will be tied to your core values. There is more information about core values here.

Here are some examples of the reputation you may build, of the junction where your company and your potential employees may meet up:

  • strives to be organized and efficient
  • seeks projects that are unique and challenging
  • provides opportunity for advancement
  • uses the same systems and products
  • makes safety a big issue

Look through the list of your construction company’s core values and you’re likely to find a number of points which will provide value to your employees as well as potential employees.

Yet, you must remember it is truly the reputation that counts. In the long run, thinking long-term, it is incumbent upon you to strive constantly to build a reputation of being an excellent company to work for.

Now is the time to look at hiring the young and (perhaps) inexperienced, giving them opportunity to go through an apprenticeship, training, and step-by-step movement into supervisory roles. Certainly, these movements take time, yet when you are upfront with new employees about what they can expect and how long it will take, you give them more incentive to stick around.

Just as you must make sure the ads you post seeking new employees include the qualities you want in a new hire, you must include the benefits as well as the special qualities your company provides.

While you’re at it, remember engaging with today’s workforce means using today’s technology. Think in terms of mobile devices, social media, and the collaboration tools young people are used to and will learn easily.

I need boots on the ground now

You may have found you’ve been unable to bid on jobs you wanted because you simply don’t have the “boots on the ground” right now. Or, you may have had to tell your customer it is going to take a little longer than expected because you simply don’t have enough people to don the hard hats necessary to complete on time.

That being said, what can be done to find employees now who will be an asset to your business in years to come?

I’ve asked around with people I know “in the business,” checked with my good friend “google,” and searched my own personal memory banks to find answers to the question. Like most things in life, there is no magic wand when it comes to finding, hiring, and retaining the best employees, yet there are some strategies you can use to aid in the endeavor.

  • offer referral bonuses which encourage current employees to recommend competent people for open positions
  • encourage feedback from present employees and make improvements based on what you learn
  • become a supporter of the apprenticeship programs in your area
  • reach out to technical schools and high school career programs
  • create or join a program where you and other contractors bring in students annually for tours, hands on interaction, and a discussion of the job opportunities in the construction field*
  • employ construction focused interns for summer programs
  • create the right job posting
  • use social media to attract a younger demographic to the trades

*For those of you who are in Arizona, here is an example of a program you may be interested in being a part of. It is being presented by the Association of Construction Career Development, and this year it is being held on November 2nd. Check it out. Click through their pages. You may want to sponsor or volunteer.

Keeping ‘em around

This part starts with you and the supervisors in your construction company. You must show good character and have integrity. Leaders create the environment, and make or break the possibility of attracting and keeping employees who are honest, who show responsibility, and who can grow and thrive.

Once you’ve recognized and hired good workers they need to be utilized and trained in meaningful ways. You can include them in the process by letting them know, “this is where we’re going.” Encourage them to take ownership of their work.

Reward them. One fellow I heard from said, “We reward our employees randomly for their excellent work.”

Sometimes, a handwritten note or personal e-mail thanking or congratulating an employee will be reward enough. Other times, providing gift cards to a deserving team is appropriate. Taking the entire crew to a lunch or dinner meal will go a long way to show your appreciation of them.

Be sure to include professional development opportunities through training and classes.  Prove you’re invested in them long-term by encouraging them to learn new skills or further develop their strengths.

Strive to make it known yours is a workplace where employees are respected and trusted. Work hard to show your employees they have reason to have a sense of security that comes with stability – meaning hanging around has its advantage.

Be sensitive to and care about the needs of your employees as well as their families.

You should be able to pass on to your employees the concept that their wellbeing and the companies wellbeing walk hand-in-hand. Helping them to see they are a part of the big picture serves both your business and the employee’s sense of pride in job well done.

How Schulte and Schulte can assist you

As a part of the suite of accounting services we offer our construction contractor clients, they can choose to allow us to prepare their payroll and deal with all the details associated with that task.

Did you know Inc. Magazine extolls the benefits of outsourcing “payroll” for small businesses? That makes sense to us, because that gives you, the contractor or service provider the time to seek, hire, and engage your employees in the services you provide your customers.

And since we specialize in accounting for construction contractors and service providers you know we know all the ins and outs of the industry. Give us a call to see how we can be of assistance to you. 480-442-4032 or Toll Free: 866-629-7735