How will you retain employees after the recession?

Happy WorkersWith an unemployment rate currently hovering near 12 percent, small- and mid-size construction company owners probably haven’t worried much about staffing their crews. There’s always someone looking for work.

There’s some interesting numbers out lately, though. People in jobs from the top down are looking forward to the end of the recession, not only because their finances will improve, but also so they can escape their current job. Although no one can be exactly sure, estimates of those who plan to leave their current jobs after the recession is over range from around 20 to more than 50 percent

It’s no secret turnover is an expensive burden in both direct and indirect costs. Are you confident your crews will hang around? Don’t wait until the recession is over and they start looking before you ask if they’re happy. The time to make sure your people stay put is before new jobs are available for them. 

More money isn’t always the issue, so you don’t necessarily have to expect a huge hit to the bottom line, unless you’re already underpaying them. Statistically, the reason most people leave is a lack of opportunity with their current company. Employees like receiving confirmation they’re doing a good job and they like feeling empowered. A promotion or new assignment is a concrete way to show an employee you appreciate their work and are confident they can take on new challenges. 

However, promoting lower-level employees can pose difficulties for construction companies; small companies often have few supervisory positions – generally occupied by long-term employees – leaving little room for others to move up the ladder. Still, that shouldn’t stop you from developing a strategy to train and retain workers who show promise. 

Here’s a list (in order of importance) of the top 10 reasons people leave a job, as compiled by Manpower:

1. Limited career opportunities

2. Lack of respect/support from supervisor

3. Money

4. Lack of interesting/challenging job duties

5. Lack of leadership from supervisor

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6. Bad work hours

7. Unavoidable reasons

8. Bad employee relations by supervisor

9. Favoritism by supervisor

10. Lack of recognition for contributions

The first step in establishing a retention strategy is figuring out who you want to retain. Assess each employee and assign them a value – top, middle or low performance. Implement strategies to develop your mid-level employees into top performers while still retaining the cream of the crop. Consider replacing low performers as they can drag down your entire company. Look for talent – and more importantly, interest – and give people meaningful responsibility where it makes sense. Offer them training to learn something new they have an aptitude for. Make people feel valued, and they’ll try their best to remain a part of your team.