Hiring quality people, then keeping them long-term is probably the biggest challenge most contractors face. In a recent survey of U.S. construction firms conducted by Autodesk and the Associated General Contractors of America, 70 percent of respondents reported difficulty filling skilled positions. And most said the situation will likely get worse over the next 12 months.
So how will you find and retain a skilled team? There are no easy answers, but here are a few suggestions.
- Recruit veterans. Vets are often team players. They’re typically well-trained, proficient with technology and comfortable working under pressure—the kind of people you want in your organization. Find them through a local or national group that connects employers and job-seeking vets.
- Welcome women. Females often excel as equipment operators, according to Steve Brown, training director for the Union of Operating Engineers and Mark Smith, a training manager in the mining industry. Experience shows they tend to be conscientious and hard-working—willing to ask questions, pay attention to detail and operate assets conservatively, particularly when learning.2 As with veterans, there are local and national groups focused on bringing women into skilled construction jobs. Get involved with one.
- Create a diverse team. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the construction workforce in 2015 was 28.5% Hispanic/Latinx, 6.0% Black and 1.8% Asian.3 Reaching out to a larger, broader pool of candidates not only makes sense from a numbers perspective, it can also strengthen your business. That’s because diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones when it comes to decision-making and innovation, according to researchers, David Rock and Heidi Grant, reporting in a November 2016 Harvard Business Review article.4
- Benchmark your compensation package. When labor is scarce, attractive compensation can be a big differentiator. Make sure you’re keeping pace with the competition when it comes to wages, salaries, paid time off, health insurance, retirement savings and more.
- Check your culture. Do you have a workplace where people feel safe, respected and appreciated? Do employees have access to information, opportunities for personal growth and impact on decisions that affect their work lives? That’s the kind of environment where quality people want to work.
- Invest in technology. You’ll likely have more success attracting and keeping younger employees if you’re offering opportunities to work with today’s technology. GPS-enabled equipment, mobile apps, even an active social media presence can bring a new generation of skilled workers to your door.
- Involve current employees in recruiting. The men and women who already work for you can be an excellent source of potential employees. Encourage them to share job postings with qualified candidates. Offer financial incentives for bringing new people on board. And remember—your employees are some of your best ambassadors. What message are they sharing with the world?
- Commit to training. It not only helps attract top people and improve retention; it’s also a means to boost safety and productivity, control costs and protect your equipment assets. Training takes on many forms from classroom instruction and online courses to lunchtime coaching and informal mentoring. No matter how you choose to deliver training, be the company that’s known for developing people.