It is no secret that the construction industry is currently experiencing a widespread labor shortage, with a record-number of job openings posted in May of this year. Last month (June 2019), things began to trend upwards with employment increasing in 42 states while 30 states total added new job openings.
What this means is that while the demand for construction work remains high, contractors are struggling to fill all available job postings. “Taking care of your people and positioning them for success is critical to building and sustaining a high performing team,” says Brian Murphy, District Manager for L&W Supply. “Understanding individual career goals and providing growth and advancement opportunities is key to the long term success of world class organizations.”
Here are five tips for how to retain good employees and keep them on your team:
1. Open Up a Dialogue About Individual Career Goals
Understanding what your team members are hoping to gain from their jobs and why is a key aspect of management that is often overlooked. To put it simply: not every employee wants the same thing from their workplace and learning what they value most is important for keeping them on board.
Older team members or individuals with families and children are more likely to place a greater value on a stable work schedule, while younger employees with less tying them down are more likely to offer greater flexibility with last-minute challenges. Some workers are looking to achieve financial stability, while others are looking for a more adventurous role with travel opportunities.
Of course not every team member is the same and without speaking with them individually, you won’t be able to learn more about what they are looking for. People’s goals may change over the years, so be sure to keep returning to this topic as an open and ongoing discussion.
2. Give Honest and Transparent Feedback – Frequently
Traditionally, many organizations will hold formal performance reviews, taking place once every quarter, or sometimes even less often. This type of infrequent feedback can create gaps in communication where team members may develop the wrong idea of how they are performing. Nobody wants to be left in the dark, and it is always best to share feedback with employees as soon as possible in order to avoid any misunderstandings about job performance.
However, the alternative to this – frequent nitpicking or constant criticism – is also highly ineffective. Studies have shown that employees remember negative comments for far longer than positive ones, so unless someone is really struggling with their job, try and outweigh the critical comments with good ones.
3. Compensate Your Workers Fairly
It should come as no surprise that low wages are a huge driving factor in people leaving their jobs. Polls have shown that the majority of workers across all types of industries would leave their current role for a small increase in pay. Bottom line: pay attention to your industry and make sure that your wages are competitive. The kindest manager in the world can’t make up for the financial pressures that many people face.
Another key detail to avoid is increasing an employee’s workload without adequately increasing their compensation. This may give the impression that their career has stalled. With no upward trajectory, there’s only one place for employees to go: out the door to another company.
4. Be the Type of Manager People Want to Work For
There’s an old saying that people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.
Research has shown that most of the time, when a person loves their job, it is because of their co-workers and their boss, rather than the work itself. Be the type of manager that people want to go to bat for. Understand the sacrifices that your people are making when they put in long hours for you and your organization.
The solution to this is not necessarily to have mandatory team building exercises, or to simply act cheerful all of the time. Instead, just be friendly with your employees. Get to know your team on a personal level and check in with them to see how their lives are outside of work.
Additionally, your employees want to see that you are talking the talk as well as walking the walk. During particularly stressful periods, you should be working right alongside your team, sharing in their frustrations and ultimate joy when a project is completed.
5. When Someone Does Leave, Conduct an Exit Interview
It’s always a shame to see someone go, but it’s important to put your feelings aside and talk to them about their reasons for leaving. Their answers may be eye-opening and help you gain insight as to improvements you can make around your workplace.
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for retaining employees. Above all else, clear communication is needed to keep employees content and happy at their jobs. We hope these tips can provide some guidance with how to build and maintain your team.