5 strategies to retain construction workers in a competitive labor market

Construction business owners can bolster their recruiting efforts by focusing on these areas
A dedicated mentoring and apprenticeship program is one way to develop a pipeline of skilled workers. (Photo: Annie Gray, Unsplash)

Employee retention has long been a hot topic in the construction industry. The competition races on as companies search high and low for skilled talent, offering exceptional benefits and training.

CEOs and construction managers may wonder how to keep and recruit employees in such a competitive market. Numerous options exist for appealing to existing workers, though—and many of them are cost-efficient and straightforward.

Employee retention rates

A 2019 survey by Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk revealed that 80% of construction businesses are struggling to fill positions. Only 11% have seen no difficulties, which speaks to the less-than-favorable conditions of the current job market. Managerial and engineering positions are hardest to fill, with craft positions like concrete work close behind.

Many firms that participated in the survey reported raising their wages, increasing in-house training and offering career-building programs. These actions serve to stave off turnover and promote job loyalty among current workers.

It’s becoming clear that construction administrators will need to overhaul their business practices to secure a steady workforce. Jobs still require completion even with a lack of people, but there are ways companies can replenish their decreasing staff numbers.

5 strategies to increase engagement 

Better employee retention equals improved recruiting rates. Enhanced work conditions prepare employers for applicants who seek positive and productive environments. Here are a few ways construction professionals can focus on concerning employee retention.

Training. Offering abundant training opportunities communicates to workers that their bosses care about their personal development and safety. A common factor of high turnover is dissatisfaction with available training and lack of promotion. People want to learn more about their industries so they can perform better at their jobs. Stagnation can quickly make someone uncomfortable and send them looking elsewhere.

Free training materials, conference trips and speaker sessions are practical ideas for engaging with employees. Safety training is essential, too. Both new and seasoned workers need regular safety check-ins to stay aware of the appropriate procedures.

Culture. The company culture is always essential to acquiring and keeping workers. Do supervisors encourage open communication or shun it? Is the environment inclusive and welcoming of all employees? Few people want to spend most of their day at a workplace that makes them feel uncomfortable or unheard.

The ideal jobsite should encourage feedback between managers and employees, and offer resources for those who’re struggling. Demotivated and dispirited workers tend to be less productive, which negatively impacts operations. Employers should be genuine in their efforts to shift the atmosphere, or employees might assume the changes aren’t authentic.

Technological innovation. The construction industry is often slow to adopt new technologies and equipment, but doing so draws in younger recruits. Millennials and Gen Zers grew up around technology. They gravitate toward careers that meet this desire for digitalization.

Using advanced equipment appeals to recruits, encourages job loyalty and streamlines operations. Connected devices and augmented reality platforms are only a few possibilities for the construction industry’s future. The first businesses to successfully implement new tools will experience the most significant improvements with HR-based concerns.

Holly Welles

Holly Welles is a writer with a focus on construction and real estate. She writes for Construction Executive, Trimble and other industry publications. Find more of her work on her own blog, The Estate Update, or reach out on Twitter.

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