Backlogs are high and talent is scarce. But throwing anyone with a pulse onto a jobsite can lead to catastrophe.
A bad hire can cause poor team morale, legal issues, and worse, safety incidents.
But by consistently investing in recruiting and retention, you can future-proof your workforce – one of the most important influencers of your company’s long-term success.
“Look at any of the labor stats. We’re going to be dealing with this through at least 2040, so the problem isn’t going anywhere,” says Kelly Hansen, vice president of human resources for Veit, a full-service specialty contractor headquartered in Rogers, Minnesota.
And the outlook doesn’t have to be bleak. Hansen shares her top tips for recruiting to keep your pipeline full and your construction crews moving.
Go digital with your recruiting methods
For starters, get your name in front of prospective employees in the region. Hansen recommends creating a career-specific Facebook page, as well as using geofenced and geotargeted ads to attract candidates.
“If they type in ‘laborer jobs’ and they live in our area, they’re going to see our Google search ads,” says Hansen. “We’re targeting cities, geographic regions, businesses, colleges, union halls. Once they come to our website, we retarget them again to come back and see those opportunities. That’s made a huge difference for us.”
While Veit executes the strategy and design of the ads in-house, it uses an outside company to execute the ad placement.
Get out in the community
Contractors should also think beyond traditional advertising methods and visit locations where potential employees hang out, even if that’s a local bar.
“Go in there with a business card. You’ve got to reach those candidates that are more passive now because they have a job,” says Hansen. “And don’t be humble. A lot of private owners are very humble and don’t share the success of their business. People want to know that they’re going for a company that values their community, gives back and makes work fun.”
Create an employee referral program
Loyal employees can also be your best recruiters. While Veit has always offered an employee referral program, Hansen and her team have recently revamped it to make it easier to get a referral bonus. The company currently offers $2,500 for any referral with no maximum limit, as long as the new hire is retained at the business for 90 days.
“We get a lot from referrals, especially on those jobsites where we’re not very well known,” says Hansen. “In Des Moines, we hired one person and he brought four people from the local area with him. That person got $10,000, and they got their buddies to come work with them. That’s a win-win for everybody in that circumstance.”
Engage your future workforce (and their parents) at a young age
And don’t forget to think beyond the immediate needs of the company. By taking a long-term approach to your recruiting, you can identify candidates who may not be available now but would jump at the right opportunity in a few years.
Veit, along with a local equipment supplier, is working to create a civil construction training program at Big Lake High School in Big Lake, Minnesota.
“We’re creating a sandbox. We’ll have five acres of excavators operating in the fall to really teach kids early on what those opportunities are,” says Hansen. “We’re doing a lot of those different kinds of initiatives to help us from a long-term planning perspective.”
Along with educating students about the types of careers available in construction, employers should work to educate parents as well.
“We have to start a generational shift as a society to make the public aware of the types of jobs we need for our economy. Talk to your local school, get involved on advisory boards and talk to parents. They have no clue the kind of money they can make in the trades,” says Hansen.
“If we can impact one school and they see the benefit it has to those kids that are not going to college but have a very successful career path right out of high school, that’s going to propel itself across the nation the more of us that do those kinds of initiatives.”
Provide internship opportunities
For those on the college track, internships are a great way to introduce students or recent graduates to the company and identify if they will be a fit for a full-time position. It can also be an effective feedback mechanism to understand what younger generations are looking for from an employer.
“This year we’re having our interns present a final recommendation to the leadership team on what their key learnings and takeaways are and what we can do to make the internship opportunity that much more valuable,” says Hansen. “We’ve also created tiers for interns of different experience levels and different benefits and perks that come along with that.”
Hansen adds that Veit is in the process of developing a signing ceremony for interns who perform exceptionally well and are extended a job offer.
“We want to make sure that regardless of how much schooling they have left, we want them at Veit.”