The five biggest mistakes most companies make with regard to workforce development and how to solve them

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By Brent Darnell

Special to North Carolina Construction News

Workforce development has reached a crisis level. The number of projects moving forward continues to increase, and worker demand (labor and management) continues to rise. That, along with the dwindling workforce, is already negatively impacting the industry. If we don’t take concrete steps now, this workforce development crisis has the potential to cripple the industry.

There are many factors that have created this crisis. Krantz’s job ranking survey regularly ranks construction jobs at the bottom. Our industry image is not good. It is viewed as dirty and difficult. We don’t treat our workers as well as other industries do, and we don’t offer very many befits like paid vacation and healthcare. We also have an issue with diversity and inclusion.

There are some very concrete mistakes commonly made, and steps companies can take to attract and retain the very best people:

Mistake 1: Micromanaging

Solution: Let them control their own destiny.

If you want to attract and retain people, give them as much autonomy as possible. Give them the ability to set their own work schedules and work the way that they want to work. This may be difficult with some projects, but there is always room to experiment. Many companies are toying with flexible work hours and ROWE (results oriented work environments).

Mistake #2: No clear career path or training opportunities

Solution: Provide a clear career path and the training to get there.

All workers, especially young workers, want a clear career path and the resources to attain the skills to be able to make it happen. If your company doesn’t have clear career paths for all employees, and the skills training needed to travel along those paths, this is the time to implement a program. If you are an individual, and your company doesn’t have this career path/training in place, let them know that it is important to you. Get the ball rolling and ask them to provide it. Obviously, they value training or you wouldn’t be enrolled in this course.

Mistake #3: No sense of purpose

Solution: Make sure employees know your why.

Employees, especially younger ones, want to have a sense of purpose in their life and work.

What is your company’s purpose? What is the project’s purpose? Do you articulate that and communicate it clearly on a regular basis? Every company and every project has a purpose. Tap into the purpose with your employees.

Mistake #4: Employees don’t treat employees like human beings

Solution: Make their lives better

This is a simple concept, but perhaps not that easy. If you make your employees’ lives better, they will be more loyal to your company. So how do you do that?  There are two areas that we see that can make your employees’ lives better.

  1. Improve their finances. Hire someone to come in and help people set up budgets and pay off debt.
  2. Improve their health and wellbeing. Start a wellness program (formal or informal) and help them to be healthier and happier.

Mistake #5: Work is stressful and full of angst

Solution: Create a fun place to work

I usually get pushback from this concept of creating a fun place to work. To many people in the AEC industry, work and fun just doesn’t go together. So, what can you do as an individual and a company to infuse more fun in your work, on your projects, and in your offices? Put in games, have contests, have laugh time, start every meeting out with something fun, and promote and encourage fun ideas of team, collaboration, and play.

So, there you have it. The five biggest mistakes and how to solve them. If you want more information, visit my website at www.brentdarnell.com.