For businesses in the construction industry, the success of any project depends on the skill of the team working on it. To improve business outcomes, employers must build strong, talented workforces by recruiting and retaining the right candidates, developing the potential of current employees and taking numerous other steps to achieve workforce excellence.
In the process of improving workforce performance, one of the most important—but often overlooked—strategies employers can use is to invest in worker satisfaction and engagement. Studies have found a positive correlation between a company’s levels of employee engagement and happiness and its key performance indicators, such as sales, profits and customer loyalty. These results are not surprising, as employees who are content in their roles and committed to their employers tend to be more productive, creative and adept at solving problems.
Construction companies face unique human resource challenges, including a shortage of qualified job candidates, high workforce turnover and constant safety concerns. Here are a few ways that businesses in the industry can overcome these challenges and foster a culture of excellence through improved employee satisfaction and engagement:
1. Hire the right people
Creating a strong workforce begins with hiring the candidates who have the highest potential to advance the company’s success. In the search for outstanding candidates, many construction companies contend with the commonly held perception of construction jobs as low-paying, dangerous and physically grueling. In addition, different projects often require different skill sets, so employers may struggle to find qualified workers from job to job. These challenges compound the already competitive market for talent that has resulted from the recent low unemployment rates throughout the U.S.
Cultivate a Positive Brand
While offering competitive pay and benefits is a clear way to attract candidates, employers should ensure they are also leveraging other recruitment strategies. For example, businesses should cultivate positive employer brands, or their reputations as employers. Construction companies can develop their employer brands by emphasizing a strong safety record or employee training opportunities, or asking satisfied employees to share their experiences working for the company.
Businesses can also improve their reach with potential candidates by using social media to post clear and detailed job descriptions. Social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, are among the most effective ways to boost visibility among younger workers in particular.
2. Emphasize safety
Due to the risks inherent in construction, employers must constantly prioritize workplace safety. In addition to the direct and indirect costs stemming from worker injuries—including escalating premiums on workers’ compensation insurance, lost productivity and the possibility of lawsuits—accidents threaten to impair workforce morale by causing employees to become wary of their working conditions. On the contrary, when workers know that their employers value their well-being, they will feel more satisfied, engaged and committed to success.
To ensure that each project is accident-free, construction companies must adopt comprehensive safety plans that include regular employee training sessions. In the event that injuries do occur, companies should have clear protocols in place designed to minimize harm. Crucial safety information should be communicated to all workers, including non-native English speakers. Companies can also reduce injuries by obtaining third-party safety inspections, which highlight risks and offer objective guidance on ways to improve.
3. Invest in employee training and development
For employers, offering employees the chance to advance their knowledge and skill sets has several benefits. Besides helping employees excel at their jobs, most workers value opportunities for learning and development and will feel more committed to a company that is willing to invest in them. As a result, training classes and employer-sponsored certification programs tend to result in higher retention rates and can support recruitment efforts while ensuring that excellence remains a priority in the workforce.
In addition to routine safety training, construction companies may consider offering employees classes in the latest building techniques and trends, particularly those related to sustainable construction.
4. Set goals for individuals, teams and the company
A company cannot pursue excellence without a clear idea of what it is seeking to achieve. Well-defined workforce goals thereby establish the foundation for organizational success. Goals should engage and motivate employees, inspiring them to maximize their potential without being unattainable. They should reflect the company’s core values and be communicated to the entire workforce so that all employees can unite around a common cause.
In addition, managers should take the time to understand the personal goals of individual employees and link them to the broader goals of the company. When employees have a clear idea of how their efforts contribute to the company’s success, they are more likely to take ownership for the outcome of projects—and, therefore, perform to the best of their abilities.
5. Encourage open communication
Showing employees their opinions are welcome, valuable and impact the company’s success helps to foster satisfaction and engagement. Therefore, managers should encourage workers to share their thoughts, ideas and concerns with their teams and supervisors, and their feedback should be granted sincere consideration. In addition to engaging employees, construction companies benefit from open communication policies because workers often notice opportunities for improvement that are overlooked by upper management.
Employers in the construction industry face numerous obstacles as they seek to cultivate excellence in their workforces. By prioritizing employee satisfaction and engagement, companies may achieve better business outcomes through improved workforce performance.