How Can Construction Companies Win the War for Talent? It’s All About Flexibility

May 11, 2022

Every industry is feeling the effects of The Great Resignation, and construction is no exception. The war for talent is made even more challenging in the construction industry by the ongoing labor shortage. There are a lot of conversations happening about how to overcome those challenges and bring the best available talent on board; in the wake of the pandemic, most of those conversations have revolved around remote work options.

There are some construction careers that can be performed remotely, and when those options are available, many companies are having success in recruiting and retaining talent by considering that route. But the reality is that construction projects require teams on the ground, in the field, and on site; remote work simply isn’t feasible in a lot of cases. So how can those construction companies be realistic about the requirements of the work while still being open to meeting the changing needs of the employees they want to recruit and retain?

Fortunately, employees want more than just remote work options from a company. Here’s a look at a few different ways construction companies can adapt their workplaces to be an easy sell to prospective candidates.

Don't Watch the Clock

For most construction companies, remote work simply isn’t an option - but flexible scheduling might be. Some companies are finding that by eliminating rigid work hours and establishing an unlimited vacation policy, they are seeing increased levels of engagement and productivity among their employees. In most cases, employees who are offered that level of flexibility are choosing not to misuse those policies. They feel valued and trusted by their employers, and they want to earn that trust by showing up and doing their jobs well - and taking the time they need to make school drop-offs, be present for family dinners, and recharge with vacations. In addition, construction workers know that construction is a team effort, and their teammates can help hold them accountable if schedules begin to feel unbalanced.

Broaden the Search

For a great role, many candidates are still open to the idea of relocation or frequent travel. Construction companies should consider pursuing the best talent available - not just the best talent in their local market. Investing in a relocation package or travel option is a small price to pay up front for a candidate who can deliver top value. And in roles where remote or hybrid work is possible, such as engineering and estimating, consider offering that option; those roles can be especially difficult to fill, and offering a variety of options to top candidates is a huge selling point. There may need to be flexibility in how the perfect candidate comes on board, but flexibility is key to attracting and retaining the best candidates in this market.

Build a Collaborative Work Environment

One common talking point among candidates considering a career move is the desire for a collaborative working environment. High performers are not content to rest on what they have accomplished so far in their careers; they want to contribute in a meaningful way to their companies and their communities. They want to learn and be challenged. Companies can succeed in bringing these employees on board by creating continuous learning opportunities and crafting a culture of collaboration, where every team member is heard and can bring their expertise to bear on projects.

Give Employees Room to Grow

As the world of work has changed over the past several years, both companies and employees are discovering new professional needs and desires. The rate of change has meant that employees have taken on new roles and pursued new interests to fill varying needs in their companies, and this has opened up new professional pathways to them. Companies who want to recruit and retain these well-rounded employees should be willing to pivot to help them grow in their careers, including growing in different directions as their needs and passions change. If someone in project management has an emerging interest in and talent for accounting functions, cross-train them and create space for them to fill both roles. If a prospective candidate is skilled in both field work and marketing, build a hybrid role that suits their specific qualifications and allows them to contribute to the company in different ways. Companies can only benefit from having passionate, engaged employees who deliver value in a broad variety of ways.

Let Employees Invest in the Company

Another major draw for employees in today’s market is Employee Stock Ownership Programs (ESOPs). Employees want to feel that their company is invested in them - and they also want to invest in the company. By offering ESOP options to employees, companies can generate increased engagement and loyalty; each employee participant will have a significant investment in the success of their company. Everyone wins!

The industry’s leading candidates are no longer willing to simply show up and punch a clock. Instead, they see work as a significant way for them to add value, not only to their company but also to their community. The key to winning the war for talent is by maximizing the employees’ ability to add value through flexibility: offering flexible work options whenever possible, creating flexible career paths to meet employees’ changing needs and passions, and delivering flexible benefits that invest in employees and let them invest in their company. Companies who brand themselves by placing this flexibility front and center will stand head and shoulders above their competition.

About the Author

Kristen Ripmaster

Kristen joined Kimmel & Associates in 2017 in the Electrical Division, serving the Northeastern region. She later transitioned to serving the general construction market in California, Arizona, and Nevada.

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