Talent Drought in the Construction Business – 7 Key Steps to Mitigating It

In our role as trusted advisor, accountant, and tax planner for our clients, there are times when the numbers tell a story that demand solutions outside of the typical services offered by KatzAbosch, and many times these instances require additional expertise be brought in. Our goal is to help our clients reach theirs, and our commentary below reflects our analysis of conversations we’ve had with our clients, other trusted partners and advisors, and commentary we’re seeing in the industry around a noticeable problem.

Project delays, increased competition, lack of business development staff, and even bad weather have always been on the list as issues that can hinder growth. However, more and more over the past few years, we’ve observed a noticeable trend in the challenges that our construction, architectural, engineering, and real estate development clients report are keeping them from hitting their growth/revenue goals – hiring and retaining top talent.We would venture to say that in the last 12-18 months, nearly all of our clients at KatzAbsoch have listed recruiting, hiring, and engaging talent as one of their top 3 challenges or priorities in 2018. And it’s showing no signs of stopping. “We can’t find the right people,” they tell us. Or worse, employers tell us that they find the right people, bring them in, invest in training them, only to lose them to a competitor.

So what is a hard-working business owner to do? Below we’ve outlined 7 key steps that we believe owners have to take to attract, recruit, retain, and engage the people that they need to take their business to the next level.

1. Attract workers that aren’t actively looking. The first step is understanding that the people you want aren’t actively searching for a new job. That means they’re working at a competitor, perhaps not fully happy but not unhappy to the extent that they’re spending every minute – or any time at all – on job boards looking for openings.

2. Use different tools to reach/recruit passive candidates. If the candidates you need aren’t actively looking, then posting a job to your website, to your industry organizations, Linkedin, and job boards isn’t going to work. Don’t get us wrong – those are great ways to reach people actively looking for a job. But to start a conversation with someone who isn’t looking for a job, you have to offer something they do want: networking; professional development; training; community events; fundraising for a cause; webinars. Then, promote those things using tools like email, Instagram to promote your culture, LinkedIn groups for networking. Find a way to get to know them first, then start conversation about employment opportunities. If you’re meeting their needs in ways their current firm isn’t, they’re going to want to join your team.

3. Tell a more compelling story. Since we’ve determined that candidates aren’t actively looking for a new job, simply giving them a job description, salary guidance, and benefits summary isn’t going to cut it. You’re going to have to paint a picture for why they should want to join your team, where your organization is going, and why this would be a positive shift for their career. If there isn’t enough of a reason for them to make a career change, and they’re not terribly unhappy, they’re not going to take a chance and come to your firm.

4. Have a website – and a careers page – that communicates culture. When a potential recruit first hears about your firm, and a potential job opening, the first thing they’re going to do is come to your company website. If you’ve succeeded in mastering item #3 above, and have a great story, make sure that story is clearly communicated on your website and that you’ve paid specific attention to developing an awesome careers page. If not – you’re going to fall flat. You’ll have created a great story, found a way to get noticed, and gotten them to your careers page, only to have no compelling information or content other than a list of job openings. Those potential candidates will feel uneasy, not motivated to apply, and will likely leave without taking any action.

5. Create a thorough, exceptional onboarding experience. If a candidate has gone through the steps to come to your site, reach out to inquire about openings, and has set up time for either a conversational coffee meeting, or more formal interview/site visit, you have to spend the time to plan that event out. Just as you’d spend time planning a presentation to a sales prospect or industry conference, give the same care and attention to a candidate visit. They’re looking for signals that the story you’ve told them is true – that hiring them is one of your most important goals, and that if they take a chance and come to your company they’ll find an attentive management team and a place they can grow their career. Don’t wing it.

6. Establish clarity – around their role, their growth opportunities, the company’s goals, and the leader’s vision. If they’ve made the decision to accept an offer and join your firm, congratulations – you’re not done yet. Lack of employee engagement is the #1 contributor to lost productivity and turnover. Make sure you have a consistent communications plan in place to help employees understand how they fit, where you’re going, and what the opportunities for their next level of growth are.

7. Reinforce clarity – continuously communicate. “People need to be reminded more than they need to be told.” This is one of our favorite quotes, and reinforces the fact that even if you’ve told people how they fit and where they’re going – continue to reinforce it. Client work, industry news, and assumptions all have a way of diluting the original intended message. Remind people of their importance, the firm’s performance, and your most important initiatives on a continuous basis.

Finding good clients will always be an important part of your growth strategy, as project-based work does not always repeat year after year. But when you have a good reputation and a track record of success, referrals and organic growth are sure to follow. Being able to find, recruit, retain, and engage good people will ensure that you are able to continuously deliver great work for your clients.

If you would like to discuss how these changes affect your particular situation, and any planning moves you should consider in light of them, please contact your KatzAbosch representative; or contact us by clicking here.

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