Sep 17, 2018
10 Ways to Keep Construction Employees Happy
When competition for an ever-decreasing number of qualified construction workers is fierce, keeping employees happy is integral to retaining your best employees.
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers has brainstormed 10 ways to keep your employees happy that go beyond competitive wages, commitment to safety, and regular work hours.
The first is to establish priorities.
“Our company has three ‘daily pillars’: safety, followed by quality and efficiency,” said Roger Belisle, vice president of operations of Whissell Contracting Ltd. “We hold safety meetings every morning, and make sure to cover anything and everything related to our pillars affecting our work.”
Next up is to emphasize training.
“In our industry, skill is dying,” Belisle said. “You no longer can simply rely on trade schools to supply qualified workers. You have to grow from within.”
To do so, Whissell has developed an in-house training institute to better prepare its employees and give the company a competitive advantage.
The third idea to keeping employees happy is to manage their workloads effectively.
“Employee retention becomes even more difficult if your company does a lot of seasonal work, since workers are often more likely to leave when the weather changes and the opportunities dry up,” he said. So, Whissell does its best to keep its employees busy yearround. “If we can fill up their plate with work, so to speak, they’ll be less inclined to leave us in order to make a couple cents more per hour.”
Another strategy is to keep your equipment well maintained.
“We take great pride in keeping our fleet of machines clean, safe and running well,” Belisle said. “Quite often people tell us they want to come work with us because of the quality of our equipment. It doesn’t break down, and it has air conditioning, a radio and other amenities. Most importantly though, our equipment does its job.”
Belisle said it’s also important to be transparent with employees, which Whissell does by communicating its corporate priorities, strategies and initiatives.
“It’s important for our employees to understand where we are as an organization, where we’re headed, and what we’re trying to achieve,” ehe said. This is done through regular “town hall” meetings, Belisle adds, during which the company informs its employees of recent news and employees have the chance to ask questions and share their thoughts.
One example of Whissell’s commitment to open communication is its Speak Out For Safety program, where anyone in the company can shut down a crew’s work by pulling out a card and saying, “This doesn’t sem right. Can we review this?”
The sixth strategy to employee happiness is to stay current on the latest tools and technologies.
“Because of the diminishing skill in our industry, companies like ours have begun to lean more on technology to improve efficiency and better meet the needs of customers,” Belisle said.
Next, encourage networking and continuous learning.
Trade shows are a good example, Belisle said.
“For the last three or four times [CONEXPO/CON-AGG] has been held, we’ve sent somewhere between 30 and 40 company representatives to Las Vegas to see what’s new and bring relevant information back to our company to see if we can use it to the benefit of our clients,” he said.
Employers must also be sure to engage their employees and ensure they have a career path ahead of them, not just a job.
“We spend quite a bit of time, money and resources in developing our workforce,” Belisle said. “When employees come to work for us, they can see a career path ahead.”
It’s also important to identify opportunities and threats.
For example, Whissell recognized the growing skills gap early on and set up training programs to combat this issue early. By now, it’s a standard, repeatable process with a consistent message and successful results.
Lastly, be sure to show employees you care on a regular basis.
Annual golf tournaments, holiday parties and cook-outs offer a few examples.
“Our organization has received a lot of positive feedback, particularly from employees who have joined us after working for other construction companies, and their comments positively reinforce our efforts,” Belisle said. “It’s easy for any company to say its workforce is the top priority, but when the pressure is on, many companies don’t always treat their employees as well as they should.”