9 Secrets to Retaining Good Employees
How to engage current workers and draw future applicants

Contractors continually say they can’t find any good, trained help. Instead of developing positive solutions to their problems, they have decided to be negative. They say, “When people don’t apply, you can’t hire them.” When you don’t post a help wanted ad, people can’t apply. To recruit good people to work for your company, it costs money and requires a proactive plan.

To attract and retain good employees, you must be proactive about implementing a program to find and keep qualified people. Attracting and keeping qualified employees is the result of building a great working environment. Your employees should be empowered, have a future and feel like part of a team. They should participate in decisions and be trained, inspired, recognized, praised, thanked and encouraged to perform at a higher level.

By being proactive, you can easily find and attract good people to work for your company. Below are nine secrets to engage current workers and draw future applicants to create a strong workforce for your company. Implement these proven ideas and your company will not experience labor shortage issues in the future.

1. Assign a hiring director.

Put someone in charge of attracting people to apply for positions at your company. This hiring director will be accountable for managing and encouraging applicants to apply, ranking and sorting applicants and setting interviews with key managers or field team leaders to interview and hire. Assign this part-time responsibility to an administrator, project assistant, engineer or human resources manager. Give them the task of keeping your hiring pipeline full of applicants for your immediate needs and also keeping applicants on the bench for when a position is open. Give them a budget for ads, website pages, brochures and ongoing incentives to attract people to apply for jobs on a monthly basis.

2. Offer hiring incentives.

Provide referral incentives to employees to encourage them to refer candidates to apply for work at your company. The best hires often come from employee referrals. Most people have relatives, friends or acquaintances who have the same values and work ethic and would likely do well at your company. Put monetary incentives in place to motivate employees to recruit others to apply for jobs and join your company. A typical referral incentive bonus is anywhere from $250 to $500, and depends on the position applied for and whether an applicant completes the interview(s), is hired and maintains the position for at least three months. Consider asking 
suppliers and subcontractors for help filling your company’s positions and offer them a hiring referral reward.

3. Recruit with a hiring bonus.

Consider offering a signing bonus or extend a special perk to new hires who remain in their position for at least three months. This will encourage new employees to think long term.

4. Build solid pay packages.

To compete for good employees, you must offer better pay, benefits, education, perks and extras than your competition. Remember, you’re also competing with full-time job opportunities at major companies and government positons that offer reasonable pay for a guaranteed 40-hour week, plus a full package of benefits including retirement, sick pay, family health insurance, stock options, vacation and other perks. In a tight hiring market, you have to offer the right pay package and top benefits to attract good people to work for you. Contractors who don’t offer competitive packages continue to have a hard time getting new people to take a job with their company.

5. Develop a hiring webpage.

Add a hiring page to your website that explains why your company is a great place to work and how well you treat your employees. Feature testimonials and pictures of your team working together. Mention the benefits you offer, your training program(s) and any opportunities for growth. Post an easily accessible application form on the page and inform applicants how to submit a completed application. Also, be sure to include your webpage address in your job advertisements and on all advertisements for your company.

6. Make it easy to apply for a job.

Display a “now hiring” sign or sticker at your office, on trucks and project signs. Include your company’s hiring page link and a direct phone number to the hiring director. Schedule regular interview times at the same time every week or month. Be clear in the job description what the job will entail and what experience is required. Distribute “now hiring” business cards to your employees to hand out to potential candidates. Make sure the cards include a phone number and your regular interview hours to make it easy for candidates to setup a time to interview with your company.

7. Constantly seek applicants.

Run hiring ads every month for positions you currently need filled and also might require in the future. The ultimate goal is to fill the empty slots now and develop a list of potential hires ready to join your company when needed. Too many contractors experience a lack of crew leaders, foremen or superintendents. Having only the bare minimum doesn’t allow for growth, emergencies, accelerated schedules or new project opportunities that might arise quickly. It is a best practice to always have an extra foreman, superintendent, upcoming leader and crew ready to fill a need at any time.

8. Offer summer internships for high school students.

The best employees are often those who work part time for your company during the summer months and need a full-time job opportunity in the future. Create a program where interns can move around and do work for different crews, estimators, mechanics and project managers.

9. Host career days to attract talent.

Build relationships with your local high school and vocational school teachers and counselors. Develop a program to attract young people to visit your company to learn more about building a career as a construction professional.

To submit a question for George Hedley, email Associate Editor Elizabeth Manning at emanning@cahabamedia.com.