Labor shortages in the construction industry have presented a major challenge for builders in recent years. Consequently, the fallout has been widespread, from project delays and safety issues to rising costs and more. At the same time, employee retention in the construction industry has presented an equal if not greater problem as companies experience high turnover and talented workers seek greener pastures elsewhere.
All of this points to an essential question everyone in construction is asking today: How can we build an effective team and retain our best talent? And that’s fair to wonder with all of the industry’s current staffing challenges. But here’s the good news: you can still take steps to create a highly talented team that delivers exceptional results. How? Let’s find out.
“I think the biggest challenge for builders today is that they don’t have training systems or tools in place,” explains Brad Leavitt, president of AFT Construction. “Instead, they take team members to the edge of the pier and kick them over to see if they can sink or swim.” This disincentivizes new hires to stick around when they don’t understand how to perform their responsibilities successfully.
“What I’ve learned is that training is key,” Leavitt goes on to say. “When employees get a clear idea of what’s expected of them, it’s a crucial step towards their success.” If you’re wondering how to retain construction workers in your firm, start by offering training and development, from well-rounded safety programs to hands-on learning with easy-to-use materials like LP Legacy® Premium Sub-Flooring and other popular products in the LP® Structural Solutions portfolio. This gives your employees the chance to grow their skills and their confidence, leading to more productive results and a happier team.
While pay is an important factor for attracting talent, many construction workers today are also drawn to building firms that offer a quality company culture. This starts with caring for your employees as people. “There’s a human connection at the heart of your business,” Leavitt says. “It’s not just about training, expectations and job roles. It’s also about empathy. As an owner, I need to understand and remember what my team deals with day to day and come to the table with compassion and a positive attitude.”
Yet a quality company culture also involves listening to your employees and valuing their input. When a team knows that they have a voice and their ideas matter, they’re not only more likely to stay with you in the long run. They’ll also give their best efforts to a project. Leavitt sums it up well: “When people know you care, they show up to the job as their best selves.”
With so many labor shortages in the construction industry, it’s likely you’ll need to hire new employees as your business grows. As you evaluate prospective talent, it’s imperative that you factor how they fit into your company culture and your current team.
Culturally, it’s important to let your company’s core values guide your hiring decisions. Think about how this employee would represent your company to clients, vendors and subcontractors. “I look for people who are great communicators,” shares Leavitt. “In this industry, you have to be very assertive but kind and understanding as well.”
At the same time, pay attention to your prospective talent’s interactions with your team, considering how an applicant’s personality and skill set would mesh with your staff and operations.
Today’s top construction workers aren’t just seeking their next job. They want a long-term career with a company that recognizes and rewards their talents. That means it’s key for you to encourage your team to take the initiative and look for ways to expand their roles with additional responsibilities.
Then, in turn, give these high-performing employees opportunities to advance by promoting from within for new leadership positions. “Titles may not matter too much to business owners, but we have to realize that they really matter to our employees,” shares Leavitt. “Lots of people want to move forward in their careers. It’s our job to show them how.”
Let’s face it—no one wants to be micromanaged. If you want highly skilled people to remain on your team, don’t stand over their shoulders and control every aspect of their work. To learn how to manage construction workers well, communicating assignments and expectations clearly at every project is a good first step. “If your team has clear expectations of what they need to do to bring a vision to life,” advises Leavitt, “then they’ll rise to the occasion.”
By taking these vital steps to building an effective team, your firm can quickly separate itself from the rest of the competition. And if you’d like other key construction insights to help you succeed along the way, explore our blog. Backed by over 50 years of collaborating with top builders and construction teams, our expertise and solutions can help your company not only thrive but also build a better world.
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