Five years ago, we published “Recruit Construction Workers Now for 2020,” in which we offered our best advice for how to recruit with the future of construction in mind. We used the hard-earned wisdom of the past to look at recruitment strategies, ideal workforce target groups, and significant trends that would impact the future of the industry. While there have been many things in the past five years that no one could have predicted, we have seen many of our recommended strategies pay dividends to companies that utilized them - and we believe that they can still benefit companies as we move forward into the next chapter of construction.
Recruit the Right People
One of things we found most important in 2015 was the idea of strategically recruiting from segments of the workforce that were underutilized by the construction industry - specifically, creating outreach programs that targeted veterans and the nation’s youth. Five years later, we still believe strongly in this growth strategy.
Because of the way the military trains its workers, veterans tend to have a strong work ethic, a powerful sense of loyalty, and a passion for meaningful work. All of these qualities translate well to a career in construction, and military veterans are a great option for growing construction companies. Programs such as Helmets to Hardhats and Veterans in Piping provide training and additional resources to veterans with an interest in construction. Additionally, the GI Bill can help provide funding to companies that want to create employment opportunities for former service members.
Students are another untapped source of talent. By reaching out to high schools, trade schools, and community colleges, construction companies can provide an education about the industry to students who might not realize what a great option the industry is. Not every student is destined for a four-year university, and the construction industry has high starting salaries with easily attainable training and education requirements that can get up-and-coming workers started on a career path right out of high school. Consider creating job-site tours or apprenticeship programs that can provide hands-on training as well as technical instruction in the basics of construction for interested students.
Focus on Company Branding
If anything, company branding is even more important in 2020 than it was in 2015. The majority of the workforce today is comprised of millennials, and Generation Z is joining the employment pool at increasing rates. Both of those groups are “digital natives,” meaning they were largely raised in a world of technology and are comfortable with and passionate about high-tech advancements. It also means that unlike previous generations, they have access to a world of information at their fingertips: if your company doesn’t have a great website and a strong social media presence, it is unlikely to impress these generations of workers. Your company website should showcase exciting new projects and use of cutting-edge construction technology. But it should also focus on the company’s values -- more and more, people want to work for a company that they can be proud of. For some people, that means a commitment to sustainable, “green” construction, while for others it’s the use of drones, 3D printing, and other technologies that are revolutionizing the industry. Make sure your company posts on popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and show prospective employees what it looks like to be a part of your team.
Build a Great Company Culture
Of course, making your company look great is one thing - and making it a truly great place to work is another. Your employees are your most valuable asset, and you want your company culture to reflect how much you value them. A great company culture creates a sense of loyalty among employees and improves company performance. The most important things in any company culture are that employees respect each other, leaders embody trust and integrity, teams are proud of the work they do, and there is a sense of camaraderie and teamwork among the employees. Companies demonstrate their commitment to fairness, teamwork, integrity, and company pride in different ways - and the good news is, a lot of the practices that create a great culture are inexpensive or free to implement. For example, by strengthening your onboarding practices and making sure your employees feel like valued members of the team from day one, you will rise above the competition. Other small steps that make a big impact: including employees’ families in company events, sending out cards or small gifts for birthdays and other major life events, and having top-level executives make personal phone calls to field employees to check in and offer support. No matter what else is going on in the industry (or the world), employees will always value a company that respects and appreciates them, so enhancing your company culture is always a sound investment.
Expect the Unexpected
Looking forward to 2025, the most important piece of advice we can offer is this: expect the unexpected. No one has a crystal ball, and there is simply no way to know for sure what our industry will look like five years from now. But companies can prepare for the unknown by making sure their company cultures create motivated and loyal employees, their outreach programs are targeting the best available up-and-coming talent, and their company branding reflects the best they have to offer prospective employees. That way, they are positioned for success no matter what the future brings.