Construction human resource managers are currently facing one of the biggest challenges in the industry—high employee turnover.
The latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the construction industry has the second-highest worker turnover rate at 5.4% for a total of 407,000 separations in the month of May 2019 alone. Combined with the difficulty of attracting fresh graduates and new talents, this persisting turnover problem can severely hamper construction operations if not addressed.
It is no exaggeration to say that employees are a construction company’s most important assets. No matter how advanced the company’s construction equipment is, it will be useless without the expert knowledge of construction workers to use them. While separations with employees for a variety of reasons is normal over the course of a company’s life, a rising pattern in employee turnover will affect your remaining employees’ morale and productivity.
Since each construction company’s employee turnover situation is unique, the steps needed to be taken depends on the circumstances. However, some best practices can help you with the task.
Here are some ways you can address high turnover and improve employee engagement.
1. Clarify your company’s values and culture.
Your company’s mission and vision statement and company values should not be just something new hires memorize during the onboarding procedure. But instead, they are the foundation on which your company’s culture develops and the guiding principles by which you base your company’s decisions.
Take a step back and examine your company’s mission and vision. Is there a disconnect between your values and your actions? If the company leaders’ decision-making does not match the company’s values, your employees’ perception of your business will be affected. They will have a hard time identifying with the culture and participating in achieving the company’s mission. Walk the talk, and your employees will not walk away.
2. Gather employee feedback and act on it.
Your workers out there on the field are your best source of valuable insight into how to improve your operations. Understanding their perspective is highly essential in decision-making. It is also one of the best ways to improve employee engagement.
Creating an environment where your field workers’ opinions are valued will let them feel a sense of responsibility and shared goals. Seeing that their input brought a positive change to the company will make them feel the importance of their work and that they are making a difference.
Keep a constant line of communication between you and your employees and regularly take their pulse. Report the emerging trends to your employees and be transparent with the steps that you will choose to address their feedback. This openness shows that company leaders are holding themselves accountable for what they say and, at the same time, encourages future input from employees.
3. Improve teamwork and create a mentorship system.
Construction work will almost always involve working in teams. For this reason, you must emphasize camaraderie and teamwork. After all, construction workers face real dangers on the field, and having friends and mentors to ease that challenge improves the overall working conditions.
One of the best ways to improve teamwork is to create a robust mentorship system. As an industry where knowledge and skills are crucial to the success of a project, having a mentorship system ensures that there is a transfer of expertise from seniors to juniors. Mentorship also provides opportunities for career growth. Finally, it also further improves the relationship between team members by facilitating a collaborative environment.
4. Celebrate employee achievements.
Everyone wants their work to be appreciated and their achievements in the workplace to be recognized. Celebrating employee achievements can spark life in your organization and motivate them to try harder and contribute more. It brings fulfillment to the individual and renews their enthusiasm for the job.
Having a system in place to celebrate achievements and reward successes is another way to improve employee engagement. First, you must recognize your employee’s accomplishments as soon as possible. Being hands-on and knowing what’s going on with your team at all times will let you be the first one to notice exceptional work.
Next, celebrating success doesn’t have to be costly. Writing about your employee or team in a company-wide newsletter is one of the simplest ways to show your appreciation. Public recognition is better than a private one in boosting self-esteem.
Finally, reward their hard work. Something simple like a team lunch out or creative like a day-off pass or voucher can go a long way.
The high turnover in the construction industry will not go away overnight. But by taking proactive steps to engage employees in the workplace and improve retention, your business will be able to deal with this persistent labor issue.
About the Author:
Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers secure their lien rights and get paid faster by automating the collection process for unpaid construction invoices.