An alarming number of construction workers leave soon after they’re hired—and that means unexpected costs and hassles. Employee retention starts with onboarding and training.

Katy Tomasulo

March 14, 2024

3 Min Read
Alamy

Losing employees is costly and inefficient—from the expense of recruiting and training their replacement to the loss of productivity during the vacancy to the increase in pressure on your other team members.

That’s why this statistic from Brad Humphrey, founder of Pinnacle Development Group, is so sobering: Nationally, employees’ average stay at a company is just 90 days. In construction, it’s less than 60 days.

The reason, Humphrey said during his World of Concrete 2024 session “Find, Hire, Train and Retain Self-Motivated Workers,” is that no one is talking to them, training them, coaching them.

“Have a training program ready to go Day 1,” he stated emphatically. “It doesn’t matter what you’re teaching them as long as you’re teaching them something on Day 1.” When the employee gets home that night, you want them to tell their family that they had a great first day;  you’re making a first impression and need to give them something.

One of the reasons it’s hard to get new employees to stay is the shift in outlooks by generation. Humphrey noted that when asked how long they will stay at a company to determine if it’s the one for their career, baby boomers said five years while millennials said one year and Gen Z said it takes six months or less to figure out. In other words, younger workers come in with the feeling that if they don’t like it, they’ll simply just leave.

Implementing an effective onboarding process

Humphrey outlined a seven steps from his book “The Seven Steps to Employee Retention” that companies should implement to ensure they retain a stellar hire:

  1. Onboarding: As mentioned, make sure employees are set up for success from day one. Along with having all of their job-specific equipment and tools ready to go (whether it’s a computer, PPE, security card, etc.), ensure they can attend an orientation and get exposure to key players they’ll be working with. Humphrey mentioned that company culture, including light hazing and unfriendly nicknames, can be a driving factor to employee departures, so make sure their coworkers introduce themselves and welcome the new hire.

  2. 90-day plan: Each employee should have a plan that outlines weekly highlights they should learn and that provides a well-rounded company picture.

  3. Skills training: Ensure training is scheduled and ready to go. This includes the basics that every employee needs to know as well as those training needs specific to job function.

  4. Coaching and mentoring: Assign the new hire an advocate and advisor so they have someone to go to and to check in on them—a partner for an hourly worker, an early coach for a leader and a mentor for a rising leader.

  5. Engagement and participation: Training should take a “teach-watch-correct-affirm” approach, Humphrey advised. In addition, invite and encourage participation in problem-solving, job organization, safety checks and more. An engaged employee whose ideas are heard will feel more valuable and invested.

  6. Responsibility enhancement: Similarly, allowing an employee to flex their strengths and showing that you value their contributions can help them feel engaged and committed. As an employee’s proficiency improves, expand their scope, and be sure to leverage their experiences and interests. Assign greater responsibility and accountability as they demonstrate dependability.

  7. Performance review: Humphrey advised that companies have a minimum of one performance review a year for each employee. Be sure to review both past and future development steps. And don’t just make it a one-way conversation—allow the employee to provide input and be sure to listen to and consider what they have to say.

Hiring is enough of a challenge without having to repeat the process over and over. Ensure your new team members get off to a great start by having systems in place to welcome, onboard, train and nurture them.

To learn more strategies from Brad Humphrey, visit his website.

About the Author(s)

Katy Tomasulo

Katy Tomasulo is an accomplished writer, editor and public relations pro who has worked in the construction industry for two decades. She writes about residential and commercial building products and materials and construction trends.

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