To Retain Construction Employees, Provide Career Paths


In this busy construction market, contractors are always looking for ways to find more skilled workers to fill important roles on their teams. But amid the current construction labor shortage, finding those workers has been challenging (see our recent blog: Younger Professionals are Snubbing Construction Careers — What Your Firm can do to Change Their Minds). Contractors who do manage to find the workers they need also face another challenge: retaining those employees. The cost of hiring and training new employees is significant, so if employees need to be replaced, that can hurt a company’s finances.

Compared to other industries, the employee turnover rate in construction is very high. It’s not uncommon for contractors to have to hire and train many new crews throughout the year. Contractors who have gone through a similar situation know the financial costs of this predicament, as well as the challenges of not having enough experienced workers.

Employers use many tactics to retain employees like higher wages and good benefits, but something else can entice workers to stick around for the long haul: a career.

Build a Clear Construction Career Ladder

Workers will always come and go in construction. That’s inevitable. But many workers want more than just a job. They want a career with opportunities to acquire new skills or a path to management.

Busy construction companies don’t always put a lot of thought into advancement, for a variety of reasons. In family-owned businesses, management positions often stay in the family. When that happens, talented employees looking to become leaders may become frustrated and move on. In large organizations, the mentality among older workers may be that younger workers “just need to put in their time” before they can advance in the company. Employees understandably grow frustrated in this situation, too, especially if no clear milestones are laid out to help them progress.

To retain workers, contractors should make sure employees know what they need to do to move up in the company. Even if moving up means they need a certain amount of time with the company or on-the-job experience, making that requirement clear matters. When employees understand what’s required of them in order to grow within your organization, they’ll feel more confident.

Don’t Forget About Training and Education

Another thing employers can do to retain employees and help them with their careers is provide training and educational opportunities. Companies may also support employees who choose to pursue education outside of the workplace such as an associate or bachelor’s degree or an advanced certification.

Many construction career paths exist, and an employee might discover they’re interested in becoming a carpenter, welder, heavy equipment operator or eventually a project manager. Employers can promote this kind of career exploration by providing cross-training for those interested.

Construction Dive explains that developing leadership programs in the company can help promote this kind of cross-training and motivate employees to master their craft. This can ensure contractors have many capable employees to promote within their companies down the line.

Training programs within your company can encourage employees to improve their skills.

Making the career advancement opportunities at your company clear will help retain motivated employees. Don’t forget, though, that keeping employees happy at work requires many components like a positive work environment and providing flexibility and support to employees when needed. Running an efficient company with modern technology tools can also play a role in helping retain employees, especially younger people who have grown up with technology.

Watch our recent webinar about Viewpoint’s Team project management solution to learn how technology is playing a role by making work and collaboration easier — a competitive advantage for firms looking to attract new talent. And subscribe to our blog for future updates about the labor shortage and employee recruitment.