The share of workers quitting jobs hit a post-Great-Recession high in 2019, reports
the Bureau of Labor Statistics, challenging employers even further in this era of low
unemployment and competition for qualified workers. Construction companies
large and small are flush with projects. Yet, their ability to fulfill those projects could
be jeopardized by the realities of today’s labor market, in which workers are in such
high demand that both candidates and current employees are being actively
targeted by job recruiters.
And, according to the ADP Workforce Vitality Index, the industry suffers from an
average turnover rate of 21.4%. For business owners, this has sparked an increased
interest in strategies to reduce attrition, rehiring and retraining costs, and to create
long-term workforce stability.
Most employers are keenly aware of the need to pay competitive wages and,
therefore, include it in their projected costs. But it doesn’t stop there. They’re also
strategizing ways to improve the employee experience and create a positive work
An October 2019 report, “Workplace Satisfaction Report: What Workers Want—And
What Doesn’t Matter,” revealed that there is often a disconnect between what
employees want in their jobs and how often they experience those benefits. In short,
there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and the best way to find out what motivates
employees in the workplace is to start a conversation.
You need to specifically ask your employees, “What’s most important to you?” For
one employee, it might be more flexible hours. For another, it might be additional
time off. And for a third, it might even be the opportunity to lead a new initiative or
be considered for more responsibilities. Providing benefits that employees want but
don’t necessarily expect allows employers to deliver benefits that make a real
impact on employee engagement.
What Workers Want
As part of the survey, skilled trades workers were asked what factors they prioritize
in the workplace. The top responses were: opportunities for growth and
advancement, business practices in line with personal values, opportunities to gain
marketable skills, recognition for their work and job security. These factors aren’t
just valuable for the skilled trades, but for all employees. Keep them in mind as you
consider the following components for inclusion in your retention strategy.
1. Prioritized Onboarding
One company I work with sends each new hire an onboarding package that includes
a letter from the supervisor, as well as a hard hat, t-shirt, safety vest and short bios
about all the people they will meet during their first day. It’s a great strategy for
kickstarting a feeling of belonging for new employees. Effective retention of top
employees begins even before an employee’s first day on the job. Successful
onboarding strategies include:Consistent communication—Making contact with
candidates between the time an offer is made and their scheduled start date is
crucial to the onboarding process.
2. Culture of communication
Your employee value proposition (EVP) isn’t just for attracting talent; it also helps
retain workers by defining what your company (and current employees) stand for.
When creating an EVP, be sure to:
3. Consistent Feedback
Ensuring that employees feel productive, invested and appreciated will make them
more likely to say no to other job offers and choose to stay on your team. You can
offer your employees this security by:
correcting mistakes more palatable
keep in mind that high-performing employees might interpret a lack of
feedback as a lack of appreciation for their good work
4. Opportunities for Growth
Even satisfied employees are often looking ahead to the next chapter. Take
advantage of their strengths to help them succeed.
Upskilling, or training and advancement practices that help workers learn new skills
and take on new responsibilities, is being used more frequently to keep workers on
top of their game. Consider these best practices:
Today’s labor market is already challenging, and workers are setting the terms of
their employment. To make a real difference, companies need to know why workers
quit and understand how to create a work environment that makes them want to
Parke Jacquay is the director of business development, energy and construction at
Aerotek, a provider of recruiting and staffing services. Headquartered in Hanover,
Maryland, Aerotek operates a network of over 250 nonfranchised offices with more
than 8,000 internal employees. Visit aerotek.com.