According to a recent report by Construction Skills Network (CSN), the construction industry will need over a quarter of a million extra workers by 2026 to meet growing demands in the UK sector (CITB). With many workers ending their careers in the UK due to Brexit and some companies downsizing throughout the pandemic, many construction businesses are facing a lack of skilled workers in the industry. And as demand soars, the most affected sectors are likely to be private housing, infrastructure, and repair and maintenance.
If you’re hoping to expand your company and bridge the skills shortage, then there are a few fundamental things you can do to benefit the industry. Below, PPE and industrial tool supplier Zoro share their top tips on how to attract — and importantly, retain — more talented workers in construction.
Updating recruitment methods
If your company wants to approach recruitment internally, it’s important to stay up to date with the current practices, trends, and resources the industry. For example, the websites or apps your company used to advertise jobs a few years ago may have already been eclipsed by a new, more popular site. These platforms are always competing, and their ranking often shifts. While Monster once dominated the online job market, sites like Indeed and LinkedIn are currently the most popular employment platforms used in the UK (TechRadar). It’s also wise to monitor your performance on job review sites like Glassdoor, to see how you are perceived by prospective employees and to work on feedback provided by ex-team members who have moved on.
However, with all these factors to consider, you may want to outsource your hiring process to a recruitment agency. While this is an added expense, it is their job to be tuned into industry trends and find talented employees for you to train, support, and progress throughout their time at your company. Handing the reigns over to an agency allows you to focus on the day-to-day running of the business, such as maintaining a positive, productive work environment that nurtures and retains your existing employees.
Prioritising employee satisfaction
When focusing on expanding your business, it’s important not to neglect the employees you already have. Once you have attracted talented people to your company it’s vital to retain them, and the best way to start doing so is by prioritising employee satisfaction in your everyday operations. Workers want to feel heard and supported by the company they work for, so creating a strong chain of command means that supervisors and managers are always on hand to provide close training, guidance, and a friendly face for new starters.
Even when things get busy, always take the time to listen to any suggestions or concerns from employees. Recognising achievements through schemes like Employee of the Month, or special mentions in company newsletters, can also be a great way to boost morale and inspire talented workers to aspire towards managerial roles. Even smaller things like organising company social events or celebrating staff birthdays can help create a workplace that people truly enjoy being a part of.
Offering career progression
Another key attraction for prospective employees is whether you can offer them the opportunity for progression. When you have the pleasure of talented, motivated staff in your company, make it clear that they can be promoted into supervisory or managerial roles when the time is right. This can help give their career direction and a goal to work towards, meaning they will be more satisfied staying with your company on a long-term basis. Not only this, but promoting your talented staff reduces your chances of having to hire externally, and instead fills management positions with people who already know your construction company inside out.
Consider your company’s diversity
One reason you’re not finding as many passionate, long-term employees may be that you’re not looking in the right places. The construction industry has historically been a highly male-dominated field, so women and other under-represented groups may feel discouraged from applying to apprenticeships or internship programmes in the first place. In fact, research by the Chartered Institute of Building found that the construction sector is still only 15% women (with only 2% on-site), 6% BAME workers, and 6% disabled workers (People Management). This means that many construction companies are missing out on a whole demographic of skilled young people due to a lack of representation the industry.
You can combat this lack of diversity and widen your recruitment process by speaking at schools and colleges about the placements and programmes you can offer. Some students may not think that a career in construction is even an option for them, so hearing from real people in the industry can be a crucial way to recruit new talent. Sending a diverse representation of your company to career days may also encourage more interest from young people of different backgrounds, races, and genders to apply for internships or college courses to prepare them for jobs in the industry.
Kelly Friel, Digital Project Manager at Zoro said: “The construction industry is currently facing a challenge recruiting and retaining skilled workers, meaning it may struggle to meet the increasing demands in private housing, infrastructure, and repair sectors. However, if this projected growth is met, there could be up to 2.78 million people employed in skilled construction roles by 2026.
“Keeping up to date with recruitment processes and creating a supportive, positive work environment are just some of the ways businesses can attract and retain more employees. However, larger factors at play are the need to increase diversity in the construction industry, as well as ensuring career progression and advancement for those with internships or placements. Higher recruitment rates and better employee retention in this industry will benefit staff, businesses, and their surrounding communities alike.”