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Retaining Employees During the Labor Shortage

Bryan Ortiz, AGC Safety Management Consultant

We all know about the labor shortage that has been affecting the construction industry. Whenever I ask our members about the greatest challenge they currently face, most have the same answer: “We need more people!” According to Business Insider, “The construction industry needs over two million more workers over the next three years to keep up with booming demand.” That is a staggering figure. Because of this shortage, we see a lot of companies focusing on initiatives to attract potential new employees such as increased wages and sign-on bonuses. We all know of employees that have left their former employer for $2 more per hour or something similar. It is very easy to point a finger at the employee for leaving for $80 more a week, which may not seem like much. One thing I have always said in situations like this is:

“If an employee is willing to leave your company for $80 dollars, that is how much your company culture was worth to them.”

Without employee retention, any initiatives to attract new employees is futile. What can we do to retain employees and entice them to stay even when another company is offering a couple bucks more per hour? It all comes down to how strong the employee/employer bond is. Think of it as a rope; the more strands and the thicker they are, the stronger the rope will be as a whole. The stronger that rope is, the more it will be able to handle and the harder it will be to break. If wage and minimum benefits required by law are the only strands in that rope (the bond) between you and your employee, it’s bound to break when they are offered those $2 more per hour.

How can you add more strands to that rope? Here are some examples:

  • Industry-leading benefits
  • PTO and flexibility
  • Wage increase
  • Work/life balance
  • Retirement contributions
  • Family/volunteer opportunities
  • Feedback given early and often
  • Growth opportunities within your company

Improving your safety culture and how safe an employee feels while working for you can be another strand within that rope that not only benefits the employee but also their family.

And a lot of times companies are already doing the things mentioned above, so maybe you need to beat your own drum a little and educate your employees on all the opportunities that are available to them.

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