Attracting and Retaining Talent in the Construction Industry

Attracting and Retaining Talent in the Construction Industry

As the rush to employ skilled tradespeople in the construction industry increases, how can you ensure your company stands out?

When attracting and retaining talent in construction is harder than ever, what strategies can you employ?2022 has seen the construction industry start to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, as the opportunity for work increases, this has perpetuated some of the longer running problems in the industry, namely, how to attract and retain a workforce.

The increase in available work has also added further stress to project delivery, with companies under pressure to deliver to even tighter deadlines, and often at shorter notice. Juggling this with the ever-present problem of recruitment and labour shortages, means companies have to take a long hard look at not only how they attract employees, but also how they keep them.

Attracting talent

Larger companies often have more resources to focus on talent retention and are able to offer wider employee benefits, which can make it harder for SMEs to keep up. However, with the current labour shortage, both businesses large and small have to prioritise recruitment and learn from each other when it comes to making themselves attractive to future employees.

Given that employee mental health and wellbeing is of huge concern in the construction industry, employees may be attracted to more holistic benefit packages that include support for employees’ health and welfare, or benefits that add value such as flexible working.

Promote employee wellbeing

In recent results of a mental health survey in the construction industry, workers suggested the following elements would improve their overall wellbeing:

  • Better wellbeing support at work
  • Flexible working
  • Feedback from managers
  • Support forums
  • Culture shift towards a talking and listening space
  • Peer to peer support or mentorship
  • Clear plans from employers around engagement

If your firm is able to offer, or is working towards any of the above, it is certainly worth shouting about. Visibly supporting employees’ wellbeing is not only essential to achieve a better work culture for existing employees, but also to attract new ones.

Hiring the next generation

Offering internships, apprenticeships, and work experience can encourage new talent to enter the industry and help to alleviate the problem of an ageing workforce.

When recruiting younger employees, it is essential to consider how and where you communicate with them. It’s also important to take differing generational ideas around work into account, for example, 70 % of Generation Z job seekers, said they place more importance on social values and work flexibility when considering employment offers.

Working with this age group, born between 1997-2012, means having a digital recruitment strategy and brand presence in place that is suitable for and will attract digital natives. For this generation it is also important to show clear career progression opportunities and opportunities for feedback, according to research,  60% want to catch up with their manager several times per week.

Showing what the industry can offer

Use your recruitment process and brand positioning to demonstrate that a job in construction provides variety and excitement, and is attractive for people who thrive on activity, organisation, and teamwork. As job security is a huge issue for employees in this industry, if you are able to signpost project timelines or any contractual details clearly, this will benefit everyone involved.

Communicating the varied and different roles on offer, as well as showing what career progression is possible, is also important. Potential employees may be unsure about what roles, pay, and progression are available. Job adverts should be written to clearly convey the tasks required, salary, future progression and essential skills needed. If you do offer employee benefits, make sure you list them clearly. Having a careers page on your website is a valuable tool and testimonials from existing employees showing a range of roles and employee diversity are all positive communication tools.

Outreach events are also useful for showcasing both the industry and your company and attracting a more diverse workforce. Think about offering seminars, presentations, and workshops for people who are interested in construction roles but don’t know where to start or create partnerships with schools and colleges to attract younger workers.

Equity, Inclusion and Diversity (EDI)

Breaking down barriers around the perception of who can work in construction and in what roles is essential for recruiting a robust and diverse workforce.

Just 13% of those working in construction are women. Typically, women have faced many barriers from the construction industry, from the dominance of a “macho” culture to the lack of appropriate hygiene facilities. In recent years numerous campaigns in the UK have shown the value women can bring to construction and also encourage employers to create more inclusive work environments and recruitment drives.

There has been some progress as, according to Randstad, women in construction management roles increased by 9% in the UK between 2018 and 2020. However, a recent Building the Future: Women in Construction report states that more still needs to be done to attract and retain female workers, including

  • Ensuring images and publicity content are inclusive of women
  • Using role models to demonstrate career potential
  • Outreach work to take information directly to the target group
  • Culture change
  • Provision of appropriate facilities and workwear

According to the report, these actions are essential to, “avoid the “revolving door” syndrome: attracting women in, only for them to exit shortly afterwards

Building magazine carried out a diversity survey in April 2019 and found that just 4% of workers in the UK construction industry are from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background. It also found that:

  • 58 per cent of black construction professionals do not feel secure in their jobs – compared with 41 per cent of white construction professionals
  • 76 per cent of black construction professionals felt their chance of finding a job was lower because of their ethnicity

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) says“The benefits of a diverse workplace have been researched, identified and proven. They include improved team performance, an easier hiring and retention process, greater creativity, a better understanding of customers and an improved brand.”

It is clear that putting diversity at the heart of any recruitment strategy can benefit your company and build a better workforce. Diversity needs to be addressed in any recruitment process, including all communication underpinning these campaigns.

Other hiring strategies:

  1. Company culture: cultivate and promote a positive company culture.
  2. Employee rewards:  recognise and reward employees’ achievements by acknowledging when targets are met or exceeded.
  3. Continued learning and development: offering CPD and skilling up can help retain employees and allow them to explore different roles.
  4. Progression and promotion: a clear path can motivate employees and attract new recruits.
  5. Ease of application: make it easy for people to apply for jobs by testing the user experience of your process.
  6. Flexible working: long hours were cited as a major detrimental factor to employee wellbeing, offering flexible working hours can help to combat this.

How to stand out from the crowd

Given that the number of vacancies in the construction sector increased by 39% in the first half of 2021 compared to 2020, while the number of applications fell by 23%, being attractive to workers has never been more important. A marketing strategy might not be the first solution on the table when it comes to tackling recruitment struggles, however when it comes to standing out from the crowd in recruitment it matters a great deal. Brand awareness, positioning, and trust are all ways in which potential employees get to know you before they’ve even thought about filling out a job application.

A good marcomms strategy should communicate your company’s social values and employment offer in a targeted way, using the right content, on the right channels, to reach the desired audience. Your company website should then act as an ambassador for brand positioning as well as allowing any call to action, such as newsletter subscription or job applications, to be carried out with ease.