The most pervasive challenge facing construction companies today is identifying and attracting qualified, skilled workers.
Most companies have more work in the pipeline than their existing workforce can manage; therefore, they’re forced to turn away business, which is something any business desperately seeks to avoid.
The labor problem is real, and it’s likely here to stay for the foreseeable future. In a labor market such as this, the companies that are innovative in how they attract and retain workers will win. There are several things companies can and should be doing to create an employer “halo” that has lasting benefits.
STEP 1: CONDUCT AN HONEST ASSESSMENT OF YOUR EMPLOYER BRAND
Many people, and companies for that matter, view themselves more positively than outsiders do. Self-perception bias is especially real in business. Companies must seek to remove this bias to understand their true areas for improvement. There are a number of ways companies can gain a more truthful understanding of their employer brand.
Exit interviews: Polling existing employees will only tell companies what they want to hear. Interviewing employees who are on their way out will give companies a far clearer understanding of their shortfalls. When exit interviews become a broadly accepted policy, companies can then begin to understand trends and identify weaknesses.
Look at forums/employer platforms: So many companies are unaware of how current and former employees are portraying them online. Glassdoor is the best-in-class platform all companies should be monitoring and using. Glassdoor enables employees to rate companies they’ve worked for across a number of metrics. The best way to harness the power of the platform is to:
- understand what people are saying about the company;
- internalize and act on what people are saying about; and
- make employees aware of the resource, and suggest (but do not require) they write reviews if they feel compelled to do so.
STEP 2: TAKE ACTION AND MAKE IMPROVEMENTS
Once companies have a good understanding of reality, there are a variety of tools that can be used to enhance an employer brand.
Social media: Make sure the company has a Facebook and LinkedIn page. Spiff up those pages and make sure the key information is included, such as a logo, location, number of employees and years in business. These are wonderful forums to tout the achievements of the company, and owners should take advantage of them.
Benefits packages/pay: Make absolutely sure pay and benefits packages are competitive. Sure, companies don’t want to compete on price alone; however competitive packages are table stakes for the most desirable employees. This is something companies should be re-evaluating on an annual basis at the very least.
Referral programs: Many of the fastest-growing companies say their referral program has been the key to their success. It’s important to note the foundation of a successful referral program is a happy base of employees. If companies have that in place, they’re in good shape to grow the business through current employees. Below are the most important attributes of a successful referral program.
- Dual incentive structure. The referrer and the referee receive a benefit from a successful referral.
- Make it easy and tech-enabled. There are great technology tools out there that enable a text message-based system. Leveraging external tools enable companies to get something spun up quickly without spending too much money.
- Reward top referrers and make it competitive. Construction workers are a competitive bunch like to be recognized. Companies that have “gamified” their programs, and also recognized their top referrers, have done quite well.
Internal and external recognition of employees: Recognizing the achievements of individuals or groups of employees is one of the single easiest ways to enhance an employer brand. A simple thank you, or a bit of recognition, especially in front of their peers, can go a long way for employees. Facebook, LinkedIn and internal message boards are also great ways to drive more awareness of these achievements.
Training and career development: Provide employees with careers, not just jobs. If companies invest in their development through training, employees will be far more productive and loyal over time. This can’t be low on the totem pole when companies are busy—training programs need to be institutionalized and made a priority.
Swag: This might sound trivial, but give employees shirts, hats and other gear that enables them to become brand ambassadors.
Just doing one of these things will have an incremental impact—taking a more holistic approach, and driving towards a desired state from several angles, will make a world of difference. Employees are the lifeblood of any business; therefore, investing in your employer brand is well worth it.