Finding qualified applicants is one of the most persistent challenges faced within our industries. But when it comes to improving company performance, filling an open position is just the beginning. Consistent performance requires committed, long-term employees at every level. Here’s a breakdown of the value they bring, and some tips on how to foster long-term commitment from new hires.
The construction and paving industries are made up of highly technical, specialized positions, which typically require years of apprenticeship to master. Perhaps the most fundamental benefit that long-term employees bring to any company is the expertise which they have developed over the course of their career. Their expertise extends beyond the technical requirements of their job, too: employees who’ve been with a company for many years understand company-specific policies and procedures, as well as how their role fits into the larger picture. As a result, they are typically more productive in their daily responsibilities than newly hired employees, and are likely to function better as a member of a larger team.
As contractors, our reputation depends on consistent performance and delivery of every project we complete. Building a team of long-term employees, who work together day in and day out, ensures that customers and vendors have similarly positive experiences from one project to the next. High turnover not only results in inconsistent performance, it can create uncertainty both externally and internally among employees.
Hiring new employees costs the company money, time, and resources. While the monetary expense varies by contractor, standard practices like severance pay and unemployment compensation add up to $4,129 on average, according to recent reports from the Society of Human Resource Management. Factor in other, less tangible expenses like administrative tasks, and the work related to hiring a new employee—job posting, screening and interviewing potential candidates—and suddenly, it becomes apparent that the costs associated with hiring a new employee far outweigh the salary of one who’s been with the company for decades.
Tips for Retaining Current Employees:
When we consider what motivates employees to remain with one company for long periods of time, compensation factors must be considered. Competitive wages, medical and health benefits, vacation, stock options—each of these provides powerful incentive for employees to stay with one company. When it comes to building loyalty, however, company culture is often the determining factor. Here are some of the qualities that go hand-in-hand with long-term employee retention:
- Internal Training/Promotion: Promoting from within the company demonstrates clearly to employees that there is a long-term career path available to them. While it may not always be possible, promoting existing employees to fill vacant positions instills loyalty. Recruiting externally may produce a more technically qualified employee in the immediate, but can just as easily discourage a potential career-long employee.
- Recognition: Celebrating the accomplishments and hard work of its employees is one of the simplest actions a company can take. Perhaps for that reason, it’s also one of the most often overlooked. Whether it’s through production bonuses, making company announcements, or simply pulling an employee aside to say “Good Job,” recognizing the efforts of employees is one of the most effective retention tools available to any company.
- Top-Down Respect: Similar to recognizing employees’ accomplishments, showing respect for every member of a company, regardless of their salary or position, is a powerful part of company culture. But it must be demonstrated from the highest levels down. Respect means accepting feedback, listening to suggestions, and treating all team members both fairly and consistently.
- Continued Education: As construction and paving industry professionals, even our most senior-level team members is always learning. Opportunities for continued education can be as formal as college courses, or as informal as a mentorship program. The important thing is that the company invests in its employees’ future success through learning opportunities.
- Community Involvement: Our industry offers a unique opportunity for companies to take part and become involved in the communities in which we work. Community service is not only an important means of developing positive public relations, it also creates meaningful connections between employees and their neighbors.