All too soon, the Spring construction build season will be upon us. In many parts of the U.S., though, construction is still on hold. Extreme weather – snow, sleet, ice and freezing cold temperatures – can put a stop to construction, leaving crews sitting idle and waiting for the Spring Construction build season to begin.
But with the ongoing labor shortage, firms are scrambling to fill open positions. Between the weather warming up and the new infrastructure bill flowing money into new construction, skilled construction workers will be in a shorter supply than ever. But in slower months, without as many active projects, how do you keep your workers busy and productive to justify paying them during the slow winter months?
In part one of our winter tips blog post series, we provided some ideas about preparing back-office operations for a busier Q2. The winter months can also be the perfect time for focusing on staffing. Strengthen relationships with existing staff and crews by using the slow period to up-skill and also evaluate pay. Train new hires and also focus on upping recruiting. Let’s break down these activities in greater detail:
1. Focus on existing employee engagement.
In the Covid-19 era, retention is the name of the game. During what many are calling the “Great Resignation,” 4.4 million people have already quit their jobs. While the trend may slow in 2022, it is still expected to be elevated. On top of that, attracting younger workers to construction is an uphill battle, because of a lack of knowledge about what construction has to offer.
During the winter months, focus more intensely on retention and internal company marketing. It’s a great time to check in with your current employees, build better relationships and find ways to improve employee engagement. Conduct employee surveys and small group meetings to gather feedback and learn what incentives and job perks will keep current employees engaged. Look for ways to boost morale. Encourage upwards feedback or creativity to build community (think modern-day suggestion box).
If possible, implement a company philanthropy program where employees can give back to their community whether monetarily or through employee workdays at a nonprofit such as volunteering at a foodbank for the day or a Habitat for Humanity build. While benefiting firms of all sizes, studies show large companies have reduced turnover by 50% through these programs. While these activities may seem trivial, they add up to build morale and pay off big time at crunch time a few short months from now.
2. Encourage upskilling and certifications.
The slower winter months provide a perfect opportunity to get employees caught up on all necessary safety training and required certifications. It’s also the perfect time to invest in upskilling your workers to handle more complex tasks and assignments. According to LinkedIn Learning, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. You’ll develop a highly skilled workforce. You’ll also improve your chances of retaining valuable employees.
If you don’t have programs in place quite yet, this is an excellent time to start researching and setting up programs. The next step is communicating this to your current employees. If your firm is smaller or doesn’t have the resources to do so, another strategy is to provide information on external programs or scholarships. Include this information in benefits meetings or in a place of prominence on the jobsite. Also, encourage employees to make reasonable requests for upskilling that you didn’t think of. Perhaps this takes the form of partial reimbursement for an upskilling program or course the employee is highly interested in.
Leverage footage from construction cameras to create memorable and informative videos to augment and enhance training sessions. Research has shown that video boosts engagement and comprehension, and audience retention rates can be 3-6 times higher.
3. Jumpstart recruiting for optimal Spring Construction staffing
With the ongoing labor shortage, it’s critical that you start recruiting, hiring and training skilled workers early, to beat your competitors to the punch and be ready to act quickly once projects start up again. Construction also faces misconceptions about earning potential, career advancement, being unskilled labor, and being a gendered career. Knowing what potential employee reservations may be and practicing recruitment conversations in advance will lead to better overall recruitment.
Make sure to have all recruitment documents fully updated with the latest company benefits. Consider what additional benefits you can offer while still staying competitive. Leverage your company’s marketing content – rich with photos and time-lapses of your best projects – to attract recruits, and emphasize the tools and technologies you have in place that will make their jobs easier and more enjoyable. Highlighting your high-tech workplace is a great way to attract the next generation of workers.
Make sure that you have any networking or recruiting events calendared, and you know who in your company will attend. Ensure all organizational memberships dues are paid and that your information is up to date on all recruiting and trade organization websites. Research any new avenues for recruitment. This could include speaking with local government or non-profit agencies focused on employment. The next step is to ensure all on-boarding is in place, and you have in place who will train and mentor any new employees. This is something to highlight during recruitment as well. You’ll have better luck attracting employees and retaining them if they know they are joining an organized team.
Ready, Set, Spring into Action
Winter won’t last forever. Make the most of the first months of 2022 to get your firm and employees ready to hit the ground running when work picks up. You can even get your cameras ready to roll. TrueLook construction cameras come with rugged storage cases. You can tuck them away when they’re not in use and easily transport to a new jobsite. Learn more about our cameras and installation options, or schedule a live demo with one of our sales reps to see them in action.