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Great Employees Want and Make Great Companies

The characteristics of a great company are what attract great employees who will only make your business better

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Want to attract the best, most motivated and skilled employees? Run a great company. It’s that simple. Good people don’t like working for poorly managed businesses and they’ll soon move on. In fact, one of the best benchmarks for the quality of your business is the turnover rate. If you see people shuffling in and out of your doors, it’s probably a good time to take a hard look at the sort of company you’re managing.

Everyone knows the construction economy has been on the uptick these last few years, and everyone knows that one of the governors of that growth is the lack of skilled labor. I’ve heard too many contractors report that they could have taken on more work if they could find the people to do the job.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the churn rate in construction from 2012 to 2022 will be 9.9 percent, which is the highest in any industry. The churn rate equals the rate of new hires plus the rate of separations. (Separations includes quits, firings and layoffs.) That high churn rate jumps even higher when the employee is under 25.

So, in that kind of environment, where it’s just expected that you’re going to be constantly hiring and firing and laying off and dealing with employees that quit, what’s a company owner do? The most important thing you can do is build a company culture that nurtures great talent.

I believe the best employees are self-motivated, and self-motivated workers are life-long learners who are always looking for more training and more advancement. To attract and keep such people, you need to make sure your company is growing and focused on training. If you’re not growing, you’re not providing advancement opportunities for workers. Nobody wants to remain a gofer his whole life, hopping in the truck to fetch materials for the crew. Everyone who comes to a construction crew wants to work with tools and build something. And the best people want to build more sophisticated and difficult structures. Growing your company gives them that opportunity.

That goes hand-in-hand with training. You don’t get to take on more difficult projects if you never learn how to master new skills. Constant training—and investing in constant training—is essential for the cultural health of your company.

In today’s work environment, training is a reward as much as a requirement. You can use additional training to send messages to employees about how much you value them and how you want them to advance. Training should never be seen as a remedial issue, but only as a way to create improvement.

Now, this isn’t the “Field of Dreams.” Just because you build a great company culture, doesn’t mean you will automatically attract all the workers you need. You still have to market for them, but that’s a whole other topic.

These are the kinds of things we will be discussing at the Metal Construction Industry Summit, April 12 in Chicago. We’re gathering industry leaders and contractors who are best in class, to learn from experts and each other about how to solve the labor shortage. The theme is “Attract and Train: Developing a Workforce for the New Metal Construction Industry.” Look for more information about the Summit in the coming weeks, but if you’re interested in attending, please contact me.