It can be difficult to find highly skilled employees in the construction industry. When you do, you don’t want to lose them. The time and expense of finding new workers is far more than the cost of keeping your current employees on your team. In this article we’ll give you ideas on how to retain those skilled employees. Surprisingly, employee retention begins before you hire.
25% of employees across U.S. companies are at a “moderate to high risk” of leaving their jobs within a year
Home builders and remodelers are feeling the affects of the tight job market and the so-called “Great Resignation.” Since the first COVID lockdown, employees had the time to reevaluate their lives. That included where they lived, their relationships, and their employment. But employee retention should matter in any job market. Why? Because the economy is cyclical. And, as we’ve experienced in both the housing crash of 2008 and the COVID pandemic starting in 2020, there are black swan events that can quickly change the employee landscape. Your workers may have few options during a down economy, but you want them to stay when times are good.
Loyalty is an allegiance to something or someone – a cause, a leader, a country – or a company. A loyal employee is a worker who has been with your company for a long time. A loyal employee stays on not just for themselves, but to achieve the mission of the organization. They care about their work because they see themselves as part of a larger mission.
Home builders and remodelers often desire loyal workers – but don’t always recognize that loyalty is a two-way street. Part of inspiring loyalty in your workers is by proving your loyalty to them. For example, there were companies that found ways to keep their workers employed during the Great Recession. Both employers and employees made sacrifices in order to keep a business afloat. They were loyal to each other.
You want to develop and document a formal employee retention plan for your home building or remodeling business. Keep in mind that some employee incentives may be available for your office staff, but not your construction crew. For example, a remodeling crew can’t do demo work remotely. But the design of a new kitchen can be handled remotely, and meetings can be held virtually.
An employee retention plan is more than words on paper. The owners and managers of the construction company must care about retaining employees. It means taking the time to talk to your skilled workers about their happiness level. What do they love about working for your company? How can you improve their work experience? We get that this may seem a bit “touchy, feely” for some homebuilders and remodelers, but if you truly care, you’ll find a way to have these discussions with your best workers.
Employee retention can be impacted – positively or negatively – by a prospective employee’s first interaction with a company. This can be advertising they have seen for your homebuilding or remodeling business. Or what they experienced applying for a position through your website.
Your employee retention plan should consider the employee experience from their first contact with your home building or remodeling business all the way through the day they exit the company. For example, when an employee leaves your company, it is important to do an exit interview to understand why they are leaving. Even if it’s an employee you would not likely rehire, their feedback can help you improve the employee experience for your skilled workers.
First impressions can be very powerful and lasting. The initial interaction a prospective employee has with your business forms their first impression of what it is going to be like to work at your construction company. This leads the employee to develop a kind of psychological contract with your construction company based on their first impression. If their experience actually working for you doesn’t match what they imagined working at your company would be like, the bond they feel can begin to break down.
There is no doubt that you should pay your best skilled employees above-market salaries. But there’s more to compensation than salary or hourly wages. Healthcare, retirement plans, 401K matching, bonuses, telecommuting, and vacation time are all forms of compensation. Since the COVID lockdown, working remotely is no longer considered temporary for many workers. Offering flexible hours and work-from-home options where possible is one way to inspire loyalty among your skilled workers.
To attract and retain highly skilled employees, you must be open to hiring a more diverse group of workers. In the male-dominated world of construction, women who may consider working for home builders and remodelers can be turned off by the prospect of a hostile work environment. When developing your employee retention plan, look honestly at the work environment you are providing to all employees. A good worker is a good worker no matter their sex, age, race, religion, or sexual orientation.
How your highly skilled workers are managed matters. A survey by Ecsell Institute reveals that 25% of employees across U.S. companies are at a “moderate to high risk” of leaving their jobs within a year. However, this is so for only 15% who work with high-performing managers. 66% of employees will leave because they work for less-than-stellar managers. Great managers do several things right, including:
Most employees want to feel valued. They want to be recognized for their hard work. Recognition can be as simple as saying, “Good job.” Other ways to show an employee they are valued include gift certificates for, say, meeting high safety standards on the jobsite.
You want to treat all your employees with respect. There are both overt and subtle ways to show your workers that you respect them.
Feedback is desired by most employees. It’s also an effective management tool. You should meet regularly with your employees to let them know what they are doing well and what needs improvement. Remember to praise in public but discuss areas of improvement in private.
Home builders and remodelers can inspire loyalty in their highly skilled employees by providing them with opportunities to learn and to advance within the company. This includes:
Training can take many forms. To retain your skilled employees you must understand their goals and aspirations. You may have workers who are interested in learning new skills on the jobsite. Others may be interested in becoming project managers. Develop and implement a plan to provide the training they want that is aligned with organizational goals. Your investment in their education is an investment in your construction business.
A good mentoring program partners two employees to help them both learn and grow within the organization. Yes, you are pairing up a more experienced employee with a highly-skilled employee who wants to learn a new skill or prepare for a promotion. But the experienced employee learns skills related to leadership and management that can serve them as well as your home building or remodeling business.
A successful evaluation program identifies areas of strength and improvement for each employee. It is an opportunity to give your skilled workers options for growing within the company. Sometimes a great employee is not aware of abilities that they have beyond their job description. Evaluations can show them that there are other areas for growth and advancement within your construction company.
Providing skilled employees opportunities to advance in your home building or remodeling business can inspire loyalty. Giving an employee more responsibility (with a requisite increase in compensation) proves that you value them – and trust them to handle important work for the business.
Leverage technology to improve and streamline business functions – particularly those that impact your best employees the most. Training and project management are key areas that technology can address. But equipment and tools that leverage technology can improve the employee experience on the jobsite.
Home builders and remodelers need to foster loyalty with their subcontractors too. When a highly skilled subcontractor has a choice of projects – you want them to choose yours. Remember that once a subcontractor is working on your home building or remodeling project, they are part of your team. Improving project management through technology improves communication between all team members.
Home builders and remodelers can hold on to their highly skilled workers by developing and executing a formal employee retention plan. They can inspire loyalty by providing a superior employee experience. This includes creative compensation, a safe work environment, training and mentoring based on their goals and aspirations, and advancement opportunities aligned with their skills and the company’s mission. The investments you make to increase employee retention improves your construction company’s bottom line today and in the future.