As the construction industry grapples with the challenge of attracting and retaining skilled professionals, one solution stands out: developing a strong, robust company culture. By embracing a unique, values-driven working environment, construction firms can attract and keep their talent for the long run while combating the pervasive labor shortages that plague the industry.
Every single worker deserves to be appreciated and respected. If they’re not, chances are high you will not see them returning to an industry that devalues them. A strong company culture, therefore, begins with putting people first.
“In the construction industry, I literally saw people getting treated like batteries,” recalled Josh Levin, CEO and founding member of Empowered Electric, at Procore’s Groundbreak 2022 conference. “They were plugged in, sucked dry, thrown away.”
This eye-opening observation ignited Levin’s passion for crafting an exceptional work environment that fuels performance and employee satisfaction. Similarly, Pepper Construction is an organization whose purpose-driven culture is integral to its business operation goals. The firm developed the award-winning net-zero trailer, which has been recognized for its use of technology and positive impact on the environment.
An essential part of enticing new talent in today’s job market lies in providing opportunities for personal and professional growth. Offering individual attention and aiding each employee magnifies a firm’s appeal to potential recruits and keeps existing workers happy. Today’s contractors would be wise to treat their firms like incubators, fostering skills and nurturing employees through a homegrown learning and development program.
“This industry doesn’t have a labor problem, we have a sanity problem,” said Carl McFarland, senior VP & managing director at Big-D Construction. “We keep trying the same thing over and over again, and it doesn’t work.”
Cultivating a ‘We’ Culture Driven by Feedback and Accountability
The construction industry has long struggled against an invisible divide — between “us” in the office and “them” in the field. However, contractors must demolish this wall if they’d like smoother, speedier and less stressful communication. According to Levin, a “we-driven” culture will shift perspective from “us vs. them” to “us vs. the problem” and open up more opportunities for growth and connection.
Consistent feedback and accountability further fortify a company’s culture. These elements act as a compass, providing the firm with the direction necessary for growth and evolution. In such an environment, companies can remain anchored to their core values while embracing the winds of change. This fosters continuous improvement and builds a united front within the organization, which in turn becomes a beacon to attract talent from far and wide.
Recognizing the Power of Culture to Attract and Retain Top Talent
So, how do contractors harness their unique ethos and cultivate an atmosphere that’s conducive to attracting and retaining talent while driving continuous improvement?
First, recognize the power of culture as an attraction. Pulling in talent that aligns with its unique goals and features. It’s critical to understand the depth of this gravitational pull and how it can offer a unique competitive advantage in times of labor shortages.
Next, take into account that culture is a reflection of people. The nature of a company’s culture is reflective of its people, it’s the collective identity that defines who they are as an organization. Encouraging a homegrown learning and development program is like nurturing the seeds of this shared identity, leading to the blossoming of a distinctive and resilient corporate culture.
Technology is ally for Building a Strong Culture
Then, make sure to use technology as an ally in fostering a strong culture. In this digital age, technology is no longer just a tool for productivity but a vital ally in cultivating and maintaining a thriving culture. The right tech acts like a mirror, reflecting the inner workings of an organization and illuminating areas that may require attention. It provides a platform for immediate feedback, enhances communication and promotes a transparent and accountable environment.
Lastly, turn to feedback as a tool for growth. Embracing feedback within a business isn’t just about identifying problems; it’s about fueling expansion. This honest exchange of insights and suggestions forms the cornerstone of continuous improvement, acting as the gentle nudge that propels the industry forward.
Drawing the Blueprint for a Future-Proof Culture
The labor shortage is a complex and nuanced problem, and the industry’s obstacles might seem as towering and formidable as a high-rise yet to be built. But remember: Every sturdy building starts with a solid foundation. A contractor’s journey to a solution isn’t just about surviving a crisis; it’s about building structures within your business, nurturing a rich culture and valuing your people.