How to Manage High Employee Turnover in the Construction Industry

The following guest post comes from Handle—stress-free construction software that helps ensure your lien rights—and is part of our series of articles on turnover and employee retention rate by industry

Employees are the most valuable asset of any construction company.

In this highly competitive industry, it is the human assets, not the fixed assets, that provide the edge against competitors. However, the industry is experiencing a crisis. Despite the huge demand for construction work, companies are affected by high employee turnover and difficulty in attracting fresh talent.

In a survey of contractors in Q4 2018, a U.S. Chamber and USG report found that 58% of respondents found it difficult to find skilled workers, a significant jump from the previous year.

There are several reasons for the high turnover in the construction industry. The most pressing reasons are emotional exhaustion, job dissatisfaction, toxic work environment, and conflict with management. These problems can stem from insufficient compensation and recognition, unprofessional superiors, and even bullying on the construction site.

Employee turnover is a challenging issue that construction HR managers and executives have to face. However, there are best practices that can help ease this task. Here are some of the ways to address high employee turnover in construction.

Interested in learning more about turnover and how to reduce it?

1. Select the right people in the first place

An image of construction workers. Find employees who are a good cultural fit for your organization.

The key to choosing the right employees is not just to look for talented and qualified workers, but also to get a feel for whether they fit your culture or not. This can be achieved through behavior-based testing and in-person interviews. Ensure that hiring managers are trained to present the benefits and incentives factually and make potential employees comfortable during the interview process. Recruiters can easily spot which applicants are most likely to be committed and stay in the company during this stage.

Remember that as you test a potential employee for cultural fit, your interaction with them also shapes their opinion of your company.

2. Set up a mentorship program

A mentorship program is of great help in retaining employees, especially in the construction industry. It helps new hires become acclimated to the construction site and the company culture and, more importantly, improves the relationship of employees through productive work interactions.

Create opportunities for your veteran employees to share their knowledge of the job by taking new hires as apprentices and teaching them through on-the-job training sessions. Training others is one of the best indicators of learning, and it ensures that knowledge is passed from one employee generation to another.

3. Conduct frequent employee check-ins

An image of a construction worker. Conduct frequent check-ins with your employees to understand their attitude toward your business.

Creating an environment where employees feel comfortable talking about projects and workplace issues with supervisors and employers should be a top priority. It is this open environment that lets managers diagnose turnover problems before they worsen.

To cultivate this open environment, employers should conduct regular employee check-ins to ask about their work experience so far. This meeting should be a safe opportunity for employees to share their concerns or ask questions about the direction of the business. Finally, make career development the main topic of the check-in. You want to discuss with employees their near-term priorities and goals and ask how you can help them achieve these goals.

4. Recognize employee contributions

People want to feel like their work matters and that they are making a difference in the company. They will become more committed to the company if they know that all the time and effort they invest is appreciated by supervisors and managers.

Offer performance feedback and always praise the effort that they bring to the table. You can set up a reward program that gives them an incentive for achieving certain goals. Monetary benefits are always great, but they don’t have to break the bank and cause cash flow issues. For example, company awards during end-of-year events or an article about employees in company-wide newsletters can go a long way.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to addressing the high turnover in construction. A lot of factors contribute to this problem and they vary across different companies. Consider your own business situation and culture, and apply the employee engagement ideas that fit best.

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