“I’m looking to hire someone who is 25 years old, has 35 years of experience, and who is going to stay with me for the next 20 years.”

Not. Going. To. Happen.

You don’t have to talk to an ABC member long before either the conversation of workforce recruitment, millennials, or retaining employees becomes part of the conversation. The epidemic of the workforce shortage is just beginning with no end in sight.

But, what happens when you find a good candidate or have a good employee on staff already? How will your company stand out above the other options and keep the good ones from thinking the grass is greener on the other side?

Construction companies have begun looking at different hiring and retainage techniques.

“We have found that it is imperative for our company to talk to our recruits and current employees about the commitment we are making to their long range success as a valuable member of our company,” says Patrick Stockland of Capitol Mechanical, Inc.

Stockland continues, “Instead of hoping that they just stick around, we have begun finding ways to celebrate the employees that we have and educate them on the career path that we see with them within our company.”

Stockland has a valid point. According to Forbes.com, it is estimated that by age 35 about 25% of young employees will have worked at five different jobs. The article goes on to say though, that many assume millennials are just chasing money. However, that is not true. Many young employees are looking for positive workplace culture and career growth.

Northcentral Construction Corporation has begun to understand this. Pat Donovan explained, “we are spending extra effort to talk to our employees about their long-range plans. We are finding ways that the company can support our employees through educational and advancement opportunities.”

Even for small companies, this means allowing an individual to try different types of work, be innovative, receive additional training, or continually talking about the long range plans you have for this person. In addition, the employee must feel comfortable talking about what they would like to see out of his/her career.

“This model is not a “one and done” type thing and it does not just apply to those younger employees. It requires creating relationships with all your employees and truly uncovering the needs of that individual employee,” states Donovan.

In the K-12 educational system, the term “career pathways” is one that is being used quite frequently these days. From an early age, students are talking and thinking about moving from one stage to another throughout their careers. They are discussing options and judging long-range opportunities. Employers, especially in the construction industry, have long embraced the idea of “building” employees from the ground up, but typically it was just something that happened over time. There were not mentors who helped encourage and show new employees the paths from one place to another.

Construction employers are so busy these days, it is hard to justify spending the time it takes to mentor and support an employee. Think about this though: How much money will you spend recruiting and retraining a new employee when one leaves?

How do you create a culture of employee success in your company?

1. Hire the right candidates.

As much as we are desperate for workers, if a candidate is not the right fit for the company or they are looking for something you don’t provide, don’t hire them.

2. Make sure your supervisors understand their importance.

Teams succeed or fail based on leadership. If your supervisors aren’t supportive and understanding that we must look at employee retention in a different way, your company will never be able to change its culture. If there are leaders in your company whose employee retention is worse than others in the company, consider working with and encouraging this individual to understand the benefits of the culture change.

3. Talk short and long-range plans.

Don’t just wait for the annual employee review to do this. Find times on a consistent basis for a supervisor or mentor to talk with the employee to find out their ambitions and discuss where you see them going in the future. Take time to understand what company benefits the employee finds most valuable to them both professionally and personally.

4. Offer educational opportunities to grow.

Find occasions where employees can learn a new aspect of the job or try being innovative on a problem that arises. Take advantage of ABC training, including SuperCon, Construction U, Safety Training, and other continuing education.

5. Remind employees why they love working for you.

When Coke or Pepsi advertise, they do so both to get new people to try their product, but they also are trying to create a brand loyalty, so you continue to buy their product. Remind your employees of your commitment to them and find ways to celebrate the accomplishments of individuals. Find your “special sauce” as an employer when compared to others.

6. Follow through on your word.

Employees will grow disheartened if they never see results. Don’t promise a promotion or opportunity and then not follow through on it.

When your employees feel valued, that they are given opportunities, and can see a pathway for their career, there is a much better chance that they will stay loyal to your company. And the more companies we can get to have happy employees, the more future generations will look at the construction industry and see all the great things our careers offer.