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Securing Top Talent in Construction: The Importance of Transparent Communication for Long-Term Employee Retention

Despite reports of layoffs at large organizations, the construction industry is one where employees still have an edge for a wide range of hard-to-fill roles. In fact, according to Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the shortage is projected to top a half million roles in 2023, with an estimated 546,000 additional workers needed this year to meet demand. There’s a lot of work out there which means a ton of options for job seekers. It’s a candidate’s market, which can make it difficult for employers to find and retain top talent. Doubly so for companies that are not up-front and honest during the recruitment process.

But facilitating a collaborative work environment doesn’t fall only on the shoulders of employers. Candidates too have an opportunity to positively impact this tumultuous job market.

Communicating expectations transparently

Communication should be a top priority for both hiring managers and candidates. Transparency, openness, and honesty on both sides of the employer/employee equation not only ensures that the right candidate will be hired but will also boost the odds that the new candidate will stay on board. Employers need to be open, transparent, and honest about what they have to offer, and candidates need to be equally so about what it is they want. It’s important for both to share this information with recruiters so that everybody is on the same page.

One of the things that both employers and candidates need to be upfront about is pay and benefits. While not the most important thing to candidates these days, these factors are still important. Candidates are also increasingly considering the culture of the workplace: Does it have a culture that will support me in getting my job done successfully? Does it respect the fact that I have a life outside of the workplace?

Respect each other’s time

We have seen instances time and time again where a candidate quickly moves onto another job because a company set expectations during the recruitment process that turned out to be falsehoods once they started work. For example, a company touts work/life balance during the interview and then upon starting the role an employee quickly comes to learn that pulling long hours every day is expected of them. Employers should never be dishonest with candidates about the roles they’re vetting them for, and it’s particularly inadvisable in a tight market where candidates are in high demand and can go somewhere else within days. If the role requires long hours/overtime, expressly state that in the interview. It will save you and the candidate time in the long run.

On the flip side, if an employer states that a role requires regularly working overtime, understand what you’re signing up for if you accept the role. And if you’re unable to meet that requirement, state so plainly. It doesn’t necessarily disqualify you for the role. The company may be able to meet you in the middle or make certain concessions if you’re otherwise the right fit for the position.

Key takeaway: communicating openly, honestly, and transparently works in favor of both employers and employees.

Ask for what you need

As a candidate, it’s important to be up front about your needs and what is most important to you. Candidates should not be afraid to ask for these things. For example, sometimes a candidate may not feel comfortable asking for a higher pay rate during the interview process. They accept the job anyways, and then leave a few weeks or months later when a higher paying opportunity comes along. Had they communicated this need during the interview, the employer very well may have agreed to boost their starting pay. There are sometimes tradeoffs that can be made to land a top candidate, and opportunities for negotiation that can help an employee land a job they really want.

Some of these asks can be personal and specific. For instance, a candidate may want to be reimbursed for gas mileage if they’ll be asked to frequently travel to different construction sites and offices. Making sure that everything is on the table can avoid disappointment later.

Key takeaway: get your wants and needs out in the open. This is something your recruiter can definitely help you with—whether you’re the employer, or the potential employee.

Building a Solid Reputation

Organizations want to be considered great places to work, and candidates want to be considered great employees. That requires collaboration from both parties to ensure that the employment agreement is favorable on both sides.

The phrase “realistic job previews” is often used to refer to the importance of getting everything out in the open when it comes to what can be expected on the job. What is it like to work at the company? What are the company’s values? What is the culture like? What matters most in terms of employee contributions? And, yes, what are the pay and benefits.

Again, though, it’s not just the employer that has an important role to play in communicating these factors. Potential employees also need to be up front, as we’ve seen, about what matters to them—and about their strengths, and potential weaknesses.

That kind of openness and honesty during the talent acquisition process can help to ensure a good fit and minimize the chances of costly turnover and a revolving door of employees who are fortunate, especially in the construction industry, to be in especially high demand.



by Michael Walsh Business Development Manager at Planet Forward

Photo Credit: Canva