Offering better services, technologies, strategies, products, and cost structures can make one organization better than the next one, but all of these factors are replicable. What does withstand the test of time and make companies better than their competitors is a workforce comprising engaged and motivated employees. That’s because engaged workers consistently outperform those who are distant and uninterested in their work. As a result, in the struggle over competitive advantage and skilled talent, the company with the engaged employees will win the war and the battle.
In construction, where employers are struggling to attract and retain skilled workers, it is time for a fundamental mind shift. The talent challenge is not going away anytime soon; good, skilled workers will likely remain a scarce resource in the future. In fact, now is the time to think of employees as your clients and look for new ways to attract and hold onto them long term. Following are six key drivers that you can use to create a sustainable and engaging company culture. These universal drivers are based on research conducted by FMI’s partner Leigh Branham, a nationally renowned expert and author of three best-selling books on the subject of employee engagement.
These leaders are competent, visionary, and clear about where the company is headed. This point is especially important for young people who are just kicking off their careers. By explaining the whole picture, company leaders can connect the meaning to their employees. This, in turn, gives workers a clear sense of purpose and an understanding of how their efforts fit into the larger plan. According to FMI’s research, when the company’s vision is inspiring and clearly communicated, younger workers (millennials) are 25% more likely to stay longer with the company compared to those who don’t understand the company’s vision and direction.
By paying attention to cues from senior leaders on effective employee supervision and guidance, the best managers outline clear, concise expectations and provide frequent feedback to workers. According to FMI’s observations, this is an area where the construction industry is currently undergoing some big changes. It’s time to eradicate the archaic management models frequently used in the construction industry and implement performance management processes that factor in ongoing training, coaching, development, and associated metrics.
Companies considered “best places to work” encourage a high degree of interaction and communication between top and front-line employees. Conversely, in non-engaging company cultures, employees typically feel isolated from senior leaders. The need for better teamwork and communication across all organizational levels — especially between the field and the office — is an ongoing struggle for many construction firms. By encouraging and enabling better communication and more frequent interactions, for example, the field-office relationship can be significantly improved.
Employees like challenges, but they also want to know that they’re well-suited for their positions. For younger employees, understanding how they can advance from point A to point B is critical. This notion was also confirmed in our millennial study, where survey respondents who understood their career paths and opportunities within their firms were more likely to remain long term with their companies compared to those who didn’t understand their advancement opportunities. And it’s not mainly about advancement; it’s about continuous learning. Paradoxically, the more employees learn and build their resumes, the more likely they are to stay and remain engaged.
Branham confirms that, “Employees who are paid in proportion to their efforts feel more valued. If they receive frequent praise and recognition or a simple ‘thank you for going above and beyond,’ they feel more valued and want to put in more effort. If they are given the right tools to do their job and are given a voice in the kind of decisions that affect them, they feel even more valued and energized.”
By displaying true concern for their valued workers, companies can significantly improve employee engagement, loyalty and long-term staying power — none of which is easy to achieve in today’s competitive business environment. In the best workplaces, senior-level executives operate on the philosophy that if you give to employees, they will give back to their companies. This is a far cry from traditional belief systems centered on the idea that if managers give to employees, they will take advantage of the company.
Setting the tone and defining the vision around a culture of engagement is no easy task for leaders, but when done right, it can turn your company into an employer of choice. FMI’s industry research indicates that employees (of all ages) who perceive senior management’s commitment to their wellbeing are engaged and more likely to remain long term with their companies compared to those who don’t feel appreciated or valued.
Guest post by Sabine Huynen Hoover of FMI, the leading management consulting, investment banking and people development firm dedicated exclusively to the engineering and construction industry. FMI professionals serve all sectors of the industry and combine more than 60-plus years of industry context and leading insights to achieve transformational outcomes for their clients.