How to Attract Talent in Today’s Construction Industry

02 November 2021

According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics produced in 2018, construction is predicted to be one of the fastest growing job sectors until at least 2026. You could be forgiven for thinking that the Covid-19 global pandemic would have interrupted this growth, but it’s been quite the opposite. Despite an initial drop during the earliest stages of the pandemic, data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the industry has added 931,000 jobs since April 2020. Meanwhile, in places such as the UK, the construction industry is at the heart of the country’s post-Covid economic recovery.

With such demand fuelling the industry, construction firms will need to prioritize hiring the skilled workforce needed, not only to meet it but to ensure that they maintain the highest levels of workmanship and quality. However, construction roles require a great deal of skill and training, meaning that you can’t just get anyone to fill the gaps in your workforce – far from it. With a limited talent pool available, how do you go about attracting talent in construction? 

And it’s not just hiring that you need to worry about. Retention should also be a priority, both for your existing workforce and any new employees that you plan to take on. This is because the hiring process in itself is time-consuming and expensive. A 2016 Capital Benchmarking Report from the Society for Human Resource Management estimated that companies spend an average of 42 days to fill a position and spend approximately $4,129 per hire. That’s a LOT of money to waste if your new hire isn’t a good fit and doesn’t stick around for very long. The cost of hiring an employee also goes beyond just their salary but also includes the hiring process itself, training and development, benefits, and more.  

Here are 3 of the best ways to make sure you attract and retain talent in the construction industry.

Build an employee-focused culture

What is the focus of your workplace culture? Behind every great construction business is a team of dedicated and talented people who put in the hard graft to get the job done. With the team being the driving force behind your business, it’s crucial to invest in them and to build an employee-focused workplace culture if you are going to attract and retain candidates for your construction business. 

There are a huge number of ways in which you can build an employee-focused culture in your construction company. Here are just a few of them.

  • Demonstrate that you value the safety of your workers. Safety is a controllable factor and one that should be at the forefront of every task performed on a construction site, no matter how menial. However, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit most worksites, and so it’s essential that safety training and PPE is accessible and inclusive across the entire workforce. For example, GoContractor enables safety teams to upload onboarding and training documents in a variety of different languages – something which is very important for diverse construction crews. Meanwhile, companies like Skanska have launched tailor-made PPE for females working on construction sites. 
  • Create goals and help your workforce to achieve them. Workers want to be employed by companies who are prepared to invest in them, and with the creation of many new innovations, techniques, and technologies, businesses need to ensure that their workplace is one of continued learning so that they can advance their most valuable asset – their people. By taking the time to identify what skills different employees want to and would benefit from learning, you don’t only increase the capabilities of your workforce, but you also increase the likelihood that they will stay with you. Research from Built In, shows that 94% of employees would be prepared to stay in their current role for longer if they felt that the business invested in their professional development. 
  • Communicate effectively with your employees. Poor communication is one of the most common complaints among workforces, particularly in industries where employees are spread over a wide area and do not spend much time, if any, in front of a screen. On a construction site, it can be particularly challenging to get information to workers, but they can quickly become frustrated if they are left in the dark. Make sure that you invest in the time and technology to communicate effectively with your workforce in whatever ways you identify as most effective. Use clear, simple words, positive body language (if delivering it in person), and make sure that your workers understand by following up with questions. Your employees will value your efforts to ensure that they are included and this reinforces the team ethos that should underpin your work environment.  

High-caliber candidates need more than just the promise of a good salary and other functional benefits to getting them on board. A report by Glassdoor found that company culture plays a significant role in attracting and retaining talent in a competitive job market like the construction industry, particularly among millennials. Their study revealed that 66% of millennials place culture above salary. Meanwhile, 75% of people interviewed would consider a company’s culture before applying for a job. With company culture such a critical factor for both getting and retaining staff, it’s essential to make sure that construction firms clearly define and communicate their culture, while also proving that they are living up to it. 

Involve employees in the recuting process

An increasing number of employers are choosing to involve their existing workforce in the recruitment process. This is because your employees act as one of your biggest assets when hiring high-caliber candidates. While any construction firm can offer the same salary and benefits that you do, the people who work for you and your work environment are unique to your business. Demonstrate a great team and workplace culture and you could convince candidates to choose you over your competitors. 

There are several ways in which employees can prove invaluable in the recruitment process. 

  • Your current employees know the construction tasks your candidates will need to work on and are best placed to identify those that should be able to deliver on them. They can also call on their past experiences to ask questions relating to situations that may arise, asking candidates how they would react or deal with them. 
  • Current employees may have different viewpoints, which helps to reduce the risk of unconscious bias during the hiring process. 
  • Using current employees shows candidates that you value and respect the opinion of your workforce. You’ll also be demonstrating to your current workforce that you have them in mind when making important decisions, which could increase the sense of value and community that they have and improve your retention rates. 
  • You allow your candidate to meet a number of your current workforce, which helps them to get a feel for the type of people that they will be working with.

Exactly how you involve your employees in the recruitment process really depends on your business. Many construction firms choose to do this informally, simply by having a select few employees meet new candidates and chat with them for a few minutes. Others choose to several employees to sit in on the interview process so that they can consider how they feel the candidates will fit with the rest of the team. Another option is to ask candidates to work with an existing employee or two on a collaborative task. Your workers can get a feel for the level of skill that the candidate has, as well as how well they can work with others. Figure out the best way to get your workforce involved in the recruitment process to help ensure that you choose the right candidates for the job and for the rest of your team. 

Keep your construction business up-to-date with the latest technology

Investing in technology can also help your business attract and retain the best talent in the construction industry. This is because, with the right tech tools, you can keep your workers engaged, motivated and happy in their job. You can even enhance their skills and abilities by using tech to help train them. 

As we know, new candidates aren’t only content with a good salary and benefits. They also want to work for construction companies that are committed to their ongoing professional development, and technology can be a valuable tool to support this. For example, GoContractor enables safety managers to create bespoke, effective onboarding programs that can be accessed remotely and tailored to the individual requirements of each role and each worker. This helps new hires to reach their full productivity faster, ensuring construction projects stay on track and within budget. GoContractor also lets you assign training that can be completed remotely, helping your workforce enhance their skills and abilities and showing them that your construction company is invested in their future. 

Outdated technology can also be a real pain point for younger employees, who are used to the convenience and efficiency of digital solutions. For example, there’s no need to ask employees to clock in and out of site anymore when integrations with digital platforms like GoContractor enable businesses to control site access remotely and log employee attendance digitally. With Gen Z accounting for the majority of new workers, ensuring that you can offer them the solutions that they expect to streamline their work life is essential to both attract and retain them. 

Do you want to learn more about how top construction companies are using GoContractor to onboard and train workers across projects of all sizes? Contact us today to schedule a free demo.

Zack Berglind

Zack Berglind is the Marketing Manager for GoContractor

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