How to become an employer of choice

by Dave Wolfenden, CPA, CVA, MS, Managing Director


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Spring means a weather warmup and more projects underway. It can also be a time of desperation, when contractors need to hire new employees before the busy season takes hold.

With the construction industry continuing to face a nationwide shortage of skilled labor, it’s critical to look for any edge you can find to distinguish your company from the competition as an employer of choice. Here are some ideas for doing just that.

Share your story
Everyone has a story. When we tell our stories, we open the door for communication and connection. The same holds true for businesses — and, make no mistake, many skilled workers know they’re in demand and can be picky about whom they choose to work for.

So, get candidates emotionally invested, or at least intellectually interested, in your business. Share how your company was founded and what it’s been through. Naturally, you’ll also want to explain where it’s headed through a carefully crafted mission statement that guides everyone who works for you.

In addition, let job candidates know how your services help customers resolve their issues or reach new heights of satisfaction and prestige. Show off noteworthy projects and profile star employees. Include client testimonials from feedback from project partners such as subcontractors, architects or developers.

The vehicles for doing all this should include your company website, social media and printed recruitment materials. Don’t be shy with the photographs and videos; these media tend to carry substantial weight with Millennials and Generation Zers out there looking for work.

Appeal to their humanity
When human beings look for employment, they seek a variety of things. Everyone wants to get paid, of course, but, on a more fundamental level, employees want to be safe (in every sense). More so than other businesses, construction companies have a clear mandate in this area because there are so many physical risks on most jobsites.

In short, and assuming it’s a good one, tout your safety record. Demonstrate to candidates that you have a strong safety culture that encompasses a wide variety of procedures to keep them from harm. If you offer incentives under a formal safety program, talk about that.

Another way to appeal to today’s younger workers is to embrace technology. A workplace that enables them to use the tools they’re comfortable with — smartphones, tablets, even wearable tech — will likely entice many candidates. If your company uses technologies such as building information modeling and drones, be sure to mention it.

Also, promote how you provide training and development, both formal and on the job, to help employees establish and enhance their skill sets. Training and continuing education (sometimes called “upskilling”) can include industry certification courses, webinars and hands-on instruction by manufacturers, as well as mentoring and job shadowing.

Get involved in the community
This is more of a long-term approach to improving your marketability as an employer. But it’s well worth pursuing. How does your company give back to the community? Do you give employees opportunities to make contributions or volunteer their time?

Many job seekers, especially younger ones, find community involvement to be an appealing component of a company’s culture. In addition, if your employees already participate in a company softball team, annual golf tournament or some other company-sponsored extracurricular event, be sure to share these team-building activities with job applicants.

Compensate competitively
You were probably wondering when we’d get around to mentioning this. Yes, money talks and job candidates will walk if you pay significantly lower than competitors. Of course, it’s not within the means of most construction companies to simply elevate compensation to astronomically high levels.

So, try to assemble a total package of attractive pay, benefits and perks. Use benchmarking to determine dollar averages in your local market and then look for ways to gain an edge. Could you offer an affordable retirement plan where competitors can’t? Or maybe you can develop a health care plan that offers good coverage without being too costly. There are many variations to consider these days.

Perfect a perception
The ability to attract quality employees boils down to how job seekers perceive your construction company. The more enticing the image you build, the more likely they’ll take your recruitment efforts seriously and sign up.

5 quick tips on finding skilled workers

Placing a want ad in the local paper doesn’t go quite as far as it used to. Here are five quick tips on finding skilled construction workers:

1) Hire from within
. By providing ongoing training and even apprenticeships, you may be able to create skilled workers from seasonal hires or basic laborers.

2) Offer referral bonuses 
to employees. Not only does every employee have his or her own personal network of family, friends and other potential job seekers, but he or she can explain first-hand why working for your company is great.

3) Attend job fairs
. These are often hosted by community colleges, universities, local governments and community organizations.

4) Leverage social media
. Don’t be shy about posting job openings on your company’s Facebook page or on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms.

5) Cast a wide net online. Look for every feasible resource to get your job postings out there, including well-known hiring websites such as Craigslist.org, Monster.com and Indeed.com.

We welcome the opportunity to put our construction industry expertise to work for you. To learn more about how our firm can help advance your success, please contact Dave Wolfenden at (302) 254-8240.

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