With inflation eroding employee pay, one contractor in Nebraska is taking action.
All hourly employees of Hawkins Construction Company, a fourth-generation, family-owned and operated heavy civil contractor, will receive up to two $1,000 payments in addition to their regular wages in 2022 to combat rising household costs.
The inflation-protection fund payments are based on the company’s estimate that the average cost of basic household expenses was increasing by about $2,000 due to year-over-year inflation.
“We see rising costs across the supply chain and recognize this volatility is affecting our employees’ bottom lines as well,” said Chris Hawkins, president and CEO of Hawkins Construction. “Through this fund, we aim to cover the unavoidable gaps created by increased prices at the gas pump, grocery store and other bills.”
This fund is in addition to 2021 performance bonuses of $7.2 million distributed to field employees, support staff and project managers.
“Our goal is to provide a holistic compensation package that is meaningful to our 400-plus employees,” said Tim Mollner, HR coordinator at Hawkins Construction. “We reward merit and provide security to everyone on our team.”
The company also recently announced a pilot program that provides employees free English-as-second-language classes and hourly wage increases ranging from 5 to 12 percent. Additionally, Hawkins provides 100% paid full-family health insurance, with an additional health reimbursement account to reduce out-of-pocket expenses.
“As a family-owned company, when we think about compensation, we are really thinking about quality of life. These programs are all part of our company philosophy to help our employees create not only great careers, but more importantly, great lives,” said Hawkins. “Somebody without a college degree can start today at $22 an hour and could have $1 million or more in their Hawkins fully funded pension plan after 30 years of working at Hawkins Construction. Valuing our employees and their future is who Hawkins is as an employer.”
Workers Expect a Raise – A Good One
In an already tight labor market, the move is a smart one.
A survey of more than 1,000 workers conducted from March 3-11 by staffing firm Robert Half found that employees hold strong expectations about wage growth this year.
One-third of respondents said they have not had a raise in 12 months, and another 16 percent received one but were disappointed with the amount. In addition, nearly two-thirds plan to ask for a raise this year, with the top reasons being:
- To adjust for the higher cost of living (30%)
- To reflect current market rates (23%)
- To account for additional job responsibilities (22%)
If workers don't get a raise:
- 31% will ask to revisit the salary conversation in a few months
- 27% will look for a new job with higher pay
- 23% will ask for more perks
To improve employee retention, construction contractors should proactively budget for cost-of-living adjustments and update their compensation structures.