The first step to building an outstanding construction crew is to find and hire skilled, knowledgeable employees. Once you hire these skilled workers, however, you have to make certain that you can keep them on your crew. While not everyone will be lured away by a slightly better paycheck, employees today are often enticed by benefits and other workplace bonuses, including a strong workplace culture within which they feel appreciated. If you don’t or can’t offer some of these benefits, you may find that it’s hard to keep your top employees, and even supervisors, expeditors and job managers.
Without high retention numbers, you’re going to run into a problem: you’ll always be training new people. There are some other issues, too, which is why it’s important to find and implement the best retention strategies possible.
Why Retention is so Important
Retention is vital to your business for several different reasons. First, as already mentioned, if you have a high turnover rate, you’re always going to be training new people. That’s going to make your overall team less efficient. You’ll have your senior crew members spending time preparing the new employees instead of working on other tasks. These new employees may not be ready to hit the ground running, so it can take several weeks, or longer before they’re really working as efficiently as they should be. This can cause your team to fall behind on its schedule and could even lead to the missing of important deadlines.
You may also find yourself in a situation within which you have to promote an individual into a position that you don’t feel this employee is ready to fulfill. This can lead to a number of other issues, including poor team supervision or direction. Your other option would be to leave the position open, but that’s going to put extra stress on the supervisors and job managers you do have because they’re going to have to pick up the extra work. That’s a lose-lose situation.
Fortunately, there are a number of tried and tested retention strategies for construction companies which you can put to work for you. These strategies can be implemented before you even hire anyone, and they will help retain your top employees for years. Some will also stay until they retire!
Hire the Right People
It’s going to be hard to retain employees who are merely looking for a job or a paycheck instead of a career. While there are times you may need to get someone on site who can do the job you need done, you need to be aware that these employees are not going to be likely to remain with you for the long haul.
Instead, whenever you can, take your time during the hiring process. Find candidates who are excited about going into the construction industry and who want to build a career with you, rather than earn a quick paycheck. It might sound difficult to tell these types of candidates apart, but watch candidates’ body language and how they talk about their career goals. Those who seem excited about the prospect of working with you are your best prospects. Think about using a system like a DISC/Motivator Assessment to dramatically increase the chances that you are hiring the right people (Note: DISC/Motivator Assessments are included with BPAs created for all Home Builder Association Members)
Get to Know What Motivates Your Employees
Once you’ve hired employees who are interested in construction as a career, you need to get to know them. This may happen naturally over time if you work with them regularly, but as the company owner, you may not always get that chance. In order to learn what motivates your employees, you should make an effort to spend some time with them during their first several months on the job. You could involve yourself in some of their training or spend a few hours working with them. You could also set up some short, informal meetings over the course of a few months as a way to assess how they’re doing and to discuss their futures with the company.
Remember that while asking employees what motivates them will give you some ideas, you may get something of a rehearsed answer, rather than a genuine expression of what really drives individuals. Always keep that in mind.
Create Realistic, Clear Goals
Once you understand what drives someone, you can create goals that grow naturally from that motivation. Your projects and their schedules will dictate some of these goals, but some can be more personalized for each employee. Someone who has the drive and motivation to become a job manager, for example, may have goals that can help prepare for a leadership role. Those employees who want to become certified in operating specific equipment and machinery may have goals that involve learning how that equipment works or attending training workshops.
Remember that all of these goals need to be realistic and attainable. You can’t set goals for your employees that you know they do not have the time to complete. That will only demoralize them and will likely lead to them leaving your company.
Create Incentives for Meeting Goals
Finally, while your employees may be motivated to reach individual goals on their own, they may need some incentives in order to achieve other goals. This is especially true for those goals which are dictated by your projects or that are required by OSHA or other regulatory entities. These incentives can include things such as bonus pay, a company lunch, or an extra day off. The incentives should be in line with the goals—finishing a project under budget or a little early should be rewarded by giving employees something more than an extra five-minute break.
Invest in Your Employees
By investing back into your employees, by helping them set realistic goals, by providing incentives to meet those goals, and by continuing to show an interest in their growth and career paths, you’ll not only make them better employees, but you’ll also keep them with your company. Providing incentives and creating goals with your employees, rather than merely for your employees, shows them that they have a stake in the company and that you’re there to help them grow.