In the construction industry, and skilled trades in general, we have been talking about labor shortage issues for years now. But the conversation is shifting as we put our focus on sustainable solutions, ways to not just address immediate needs but to build successful construction businesses and successful careers for laborers and operators.
I recently spoke with Ryan Goodfellow, owner of Rock Structures and a 2020 Cat Ambassador, about his strategies on recruiting and retaining construction crews as well as advice for new operators.
The name Rock Structures might be familiar from Instagram, and that’s because Ryan has amassed a pretty large following there within the dirt community. But did you know he started that account primarily as a recruitment tool?
“Social media works for some things, and not others,” Ryan says. “There is a variety of people out there who do this kind of work. With our Instagram reach being so big, we get a lot of interest in coming to work with us but sometimes we find that they may not have the right experience or be ready to move here.”
While he’s definitely had success recruiting laborers and operators through the Instagram community, Ryan also stresses that it’s important to be able to feel people out in terms of their interest and their fit for a position. Business owners - keep all that in mind when using social media as a recruiting tool.
What are some of the most important things Ryan, and other construction business owners, look for in job applicants?
As a business owner, and especially a small business owner, how do you ensure training for your team members?
“For us, it’s on the job, in the moment,” says Ryan. “As an owner, when you’re running around and checking on job sites, that’s when the greatest teaching moments come up. Pull them to the side, explain what they’re doing right and what or how they could be doing it better. Once they start applying that and they know you’re there to help them succeed and grow, that’s part of the foundation of your company culture and also what helps your business grow.”
As we all continue to address labor shortage issues, there are several ways that we can grow the pipeline of people interested in the construction industry. Ryan believes that technology is key for growing interest with the younger generation.
“There are a lot of younger people who want to get into this type of work but just don’t know how to get started,” says Ryan.
One thing business owners can do is provide opportunities.
“If someone reaches out to me, I try to give them an opportunity to show me what they can do. You can tell pretty quickly if someone is cut out for this type of work – it comes down to work ethic and attitude.”
Ryan encourages other business owners not to label people generationally, but to give them a shot, a chance to learn, and a supportive environment. This is how you grow a business and contribute to growing the industry.
Social Media & Content Manager
Caitlin Maddock-Bahr exercises her storytelling expertise as a social media & digital strategy manager. In this role, she not only helps Caterpillar connect with their audience, but helps customers connect with the brand.
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