5 Strategies to Retain Your Best Employees – Part 4

Retain construction employees through the use of traditions, rituals, and fun.

Retain construction employees through the use of traditions, rituals, and fun.

This is the fourth in 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, and the third here.

Have fun!

Of all the things that make you a Construction Industry insider, one of the most overlooked is knowing how much fun it can be. Just one of the many reasons to be in the construction trades is the camaraderie which tends to be a part of the scene. The guys and gals who are “in the ranks” often participate in good humored horseplay, fun “competitions,” and silly banter. Turns out, according to this study, having fun is good for them and good for your business.

And, you can set apart your construction company as an exceptional place to work by strategically implementing fun activities for your employees. Part of that process becomes building traditions and rituals into what your crews will experience in their day to day activities. Repetition is the key.

Think about the fellows who stand on a stage with the express purpose of getting folks to laugh. Comedians are taught and understand that repetition of certain key words or specific ideas will often send their audience into fits of laughter before the words are even out of their mouths. (If you doubt me, check with Tonya, one of our founders, who used to be one of the actors in this comedy crew at Marriage can be Murder, in Las Vegas, Nevada.)

Traditions and rituals

From your own experience both as a family member and as a part of a professional team, you know traditions help create a sense of shared history and close-knit teams. Not only that, traditions and rituals can give employees something to look forward to on a day-by-day basis.

While it is possible for you to create certain traditions, they’re often best when they come about organically or spontaneously. For example, when “George” describes himself as “a high walker and a smooth talker” add those words to his name each time you speak with him, or give him a reward, or mention him in meetings. Help the happy accident circumstances which give the crew a laugh on the job become part of the rituals your crew can tell the newbies about.

Creating workplace rituals and traditions is a good way to give your employees something to look forward to. Want some ideas? This article from Michael Kerr presents a variety of options to consider.

The icing on the cake

Lastly, the icing on the cake of employee retention is that happy crews attract happy clients.

There is a Cold Stone Creamery store in the Phoenix valley which has a young crew of people who our family watched chant and sing their way to a generous offering of tips one busy ice cream evening. I’m not suggesting your construction crews learn a few songs together (but, if you find they have the talent . . .) What I am saying is that when your people can demonstrate to your clients that your company is a happy place to work, they also demonstrate it is a good place from which to purchase goods and services.

Here is another example of how Southwest Airlines (a company known for having fun) encourages their employees to bring some humor into the lives of their customers.

Like I said, of all the things that make you a Construction Industry insider, one of the most overlooked is knowing how much fun it can be. Making sure your crews are experiencing the pride that comes with building is great. Making sure they are having fun while they do it is even better.

Your turn

Think of some simple ways you can encourage your team to have fun while still doing a great job for your clients.

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.