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Recruitment: How to attract and retain new talent

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Are you a construction business who’s struggling to hire the best talent? In this article, Kelly Friel from industry tools and equipment supplier Zoro shares her tips for attracting more applicants to construction roles — and keeping them on, too.

It’s been an interesting few years for the construction industry, and while we’re certainly recovering from the pandemic quicker than anyone anticipated, the boom has exacerbated pre-existing issues — such as recruitment and employee retention. It’s predicted that the industry will need to recruit an additional 216,800 new workers by 2025 just to meet demand (CITB), but with an ongoing labour shortage and an ageing workforce, you might be wondering how your construction business can pull this off.

Below, I’ll suggest some of the ways you can attract, recruit, and retain the best possible talent to your construction business to prepare for the future of construction.

Redefine perceptions

When the average jobseeker considers jobs in this sector, it’s likely that they think of hard hats, heavy labour, and gruelling building work. While these roles are important and suit a particular type of candidate, it’s crucial that we highlight the varied roles available within the industry to ensure that every position is filled by people with the right skills. From logistics to software engineering to administrative roles, try to demonstrate that construction is a multi-faceted industry with a variety of roles to suit all skill sets.

It’s also important to showcase the opportunities for professional development available within the industry. People will want to know that they can progress within a company, whether that’s through traditional vertical promotion or lateral moves. So, particularly when recruiting for entry-level roles, be sure to include information about what your employees can do after two, five, or even ten years working at your company. If you can’t promise they’ll have access to senior roles, you should explain how they can eventually choose to work in different departments elsewhere within the company.

Promote diversity

In addition to not being aware of the sheer scope of jobs available in construction, many jobseekers may not realise how diverse the sector can be. For example, men still outnumber women in construction roles by a significant amount, and many construction companies believe that is because they are put off applying for traditionally masculine positions, or have never considered roles in construction as being ‘for them’. While attitudes like these are changing, the construction industry needs to be at the forefront of this change to encourage women, other minorities, and non-traditional construction applicants to apply.

You can help jobseekers perceive your company as a safe, inclusive space to work at by appointing mentors and role models with diverse industry backgrounds to assist in the recruitment process. Meanwhile, you should also be working on developing non-discriminatory job profiles by using inclusive language, creating comfortable and accessible workspaces with facilities to suit all needs, and offering incentives that employees of all backgrounds can benefit from.

Improve company culture

Company culture is more important than ever when it comes to attracting and retaining employees. In fact, many workers now believe that enjoying the culture where they work is more important than how much they get paid (Glassdoor). Company culture extends beyond social events — you need to make sure your workforces’ quality of life is being protected, including their work/life balance.

A positive work/life balance doesn’t necessarily mean your staff work less hours or do less work either. Flexible working options, such as optional start-times, break formats, and remote working (where applicable), are mutually beneficial and you may even find that productivity increases as a result.

Other aspects to focus on include the provision of a clean, tidy workspace to reduce stress and increase efficiency. Tools, equipment, and PPE that is high-quality and fully operational can also make a difference, as well as access to mental health and wellbeing services and valuable educational resources for continued learning and development. All these elements can help your employees to feel valued and invested in your company.

Preserve future talent

If you aren’t already, you need to make sure your construction company is making efforts to recruit school leavers and graduates. Having a presence in schools and colleges is more than just a great way to find new apprentices and interns — it is also playing a crucial role in preserving the future talent pipeline. It does this by encouraging children and teenagers to have an interest in STEM subjects as early as possible, so they can accrue the necessary skills to do well in construction.

You should have a look into what your company can provide to schools outside of recruitment fairs so that your name and what you do is visible to students. For example, you could offer to do talks on your area of expertise, facilitate school trips to your site or places of interest, donate resources, or fund events.

Embrace technology

So many aspects of modern construction have been supported, improved, and made possible by the implementation of new technology, from robotics and smart tools to project management software. And, a variety of construction roles can be made more appealing to people who don’t have manual labour skills by embracing this tech. For example, automation can help address concerns about heavy lifting among the physically disabled or unfit.

What’s more, much of the UK’s talent pool is comprised of IT, software, digital design, and other technology graduates, who can be tempted over to construction companies if they are modernised, digitised, and open to new innovations. As well as supporting construction skillsets, tech in this industry has opened up a new need for people who can use, troubleshoot, and even improve these technologies.

The construction industry is booming, but unless you have enough talent to fill your positions, you could miss out on the opportunities this presents. Hopefully, these tips will help you attract and retain talent to your company going forward.

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Latest Issue

BDC 318 : Jul 2024