During the hiring process, candidates get to meet with many company leaders, from their direct managers to principals within the firm. They hear a lot about how excited the leadership is to have them on board, and for many new employees...that’s the last they’ll hear from a company principal. From the time they begin work, especially if they’re predominantly based out in the field, most employees won’t see or speak to the company higher-ups - at least not with any degree of regularity.
The Problem with Silence
That unfortunate trend can pose a real problem that most companies don’t think about. For example, imagine that your field team learns from the subs that they haven’t been getting paid. Without context, people are always going to assume the worst - and that news could make your field personnel believe the company is financially unstable and that their jobs are at risk. They might start looking around at the market to find a more stable position, and before you know it, your company is grappling with significant turnover. All because no one at the top thought to mention to the field team that there was a change in accounting software, resulting in a few glitches that were being handled.
It’s All About Personal Touches
Making the effort to improve communication from the top can save your company money and increase loyalty among your employees. The truth is that loyalty is easy and cheap to buy, but it’s not about money. It’s all about personal touches. More employees are reporting a desire to work for a company that cares about them as a person; paychecks are no longer enough to keep good workers happy and engaged. Simply put, employees want to know that their employer sees them as more than just a payroll number. Luckily, there’s a simple way to help your employees see that you value them as individuals: pick up the phone.
Make Personal Phone Calls
Leaders within construction companies should be reaching out to their employees on a regular basis. It’s important to include those outside your regular circle of direct reports in these communication efforts. You should be calling On-Site Project Managers, Superintendents, and other field- or site-based personnel as well. Everyone likes to feel special and important, and most leaders underestimate how much it will mean to these employees to hear from the principals of their company.
Put it on your calendar so that you don’t let it fall through the cracks. Try organizing your company into groups, and cover a percentage of those groups every week. As a rule of thumb, you should be reaching out once per quarter to each employee. It might help to schedule these “personal touch” calls for first thing in the morning so that you take care of them before other obligations cross your desk and clutter your inbox.
The phone calls can take as little as two minutes. Tell them you’re calling just to check in. Ask how they’re doing and if there’s anything they need. Ask about their families. And most importantly, tell them how much you appreciate their hard work. Make sure they know that your company’s success depends on them.
If they don’t answer the phone, leave a voicemail - it’s still enough to make an impact. (Don’t resort to emails, though. They’re impersonal and won’t have the same effect as a phone call.)
Your Employees Are Your Priority
There are always going to be obstacles and demands on your time, but remember that when you reach senior management, you’re no longer just managing projects and money. First and foremost, you’re managing people, so make the time to speak with them. Your employees will be more engaged and loyal as you build a personal rapport with employees at every level, and your company’s turnover rate will decrease. Your employees are the building blocks of your company and your brand ambassadors, so treat them well and your company will reap the rewards.