by Evelyn Long in the BPA eJournal
A good employee is essential the lifeblood of a business, and many industries are currently feeling the crunch of competition due to the current labor-friendly economy. Some experts are dubbing this phenomenon "The Great Resignation," as millions of workers seeking new job opportunities leave their current employers. The majority of surveyed workers cited low pay, few opportunities for advancement, and disrespect at work as reasons for moving on.
Of course, the home performance industry-and the trades as a whole-is no stranger to competition for workers. Skilled labor in construction and home services has faced years of labor shortages due to a mismatch between demand and supply of qualified, interested workers. A February report from Associated Builders and Contractors forecasts that the industry will need to attract 650,000 additional workers on top of regular hiring needs in 2022.
With all this in mind, it's no shock that most organizations are homing in on employee retention. Recruiting is a big enough challenge, and many companies couldn't bear to lose the experienced staff they already have on hand.
So, what can home performance teams do to keep their best employees from jumping ship? Here are three ways to develop a culture where people want to stay, according to data on what's encouraging them to leave.
It's an obvious step, but good pay is the top priority for many employees. This can be a stressful evaluation for small businesses that operate on slimmer margins than large competitors, but the bottom line is the bottom line-and workers have to make sure their needs are met before the next few retention techniques can make as big an impact.
As of April 2022, the current inflation rate year over year (YoY) is 8.3%. Coinciding with a competitor labor market, this means companies need to keep wage growth up with increases in cost of living lest workers feel the crunch and seek employment elsewhere.
This is happening across the home and construction industry-the Associated General Contractors of America report industry earnings have grown 3.2% YoY to an average of $30.73 per hour. Companies need to keep an eye on industry-wide trends and adjust pay rates to stay competitive with other home service and construction organizations in their region.
Beyond cost of living, this is a good opportunity to increase transparency with performance-related pay increases, too. Companies should make it clear that tenure, additional certifications, and positive performance reviews will be rewarded with higher rates, creating stronger incentives to stay on the workforce and provide value to the team. Workers shouldn't feel their earning potential is limited by company loyalty.
Among the top perks job-seekers request is increased work-life balance and flexibility. Common reasons for leaving jobs often include long hours, stress, and struggles balancing childcare and other responsibilities at home.
However, this isn't an easy adjustment in the home performance field. Workers must be on-site in the construction industry; telecommuting isn't a viable option for many positions. Additionally, many teams are inter-dependent, which makes it more challenging to coordinate individual needs.
However, there are still ways to improve flexibility. Some contracting and home services teams are experimenting with new scheduling techniques. In the U.K., a pilot program involving four construction companies tested out six models for more flexible scheduling:
Reporting indicates that workers felt positive impacts with more time for their own health and wellbeing, less guilt in using personal time, and fewer long hours. At the same time, the companies involved did not report any losses in productivity.
Whether or not one or more of these ideas works for a specific business depends on the size of the team, the nature of the work and buy-in from management and workers alike. However, surveying workers and testing out new routines for work-life balance can help build trust and show a meaningful dedication to making it easier for employees to succeed personally and professionally.
One unquantifiable factor contributing to The Great Resignation is that many workers are no longer content to merely bring home a paycheck. They want their work to produce meaning and add value. This often comes down to good management in the face of challenges, a strong sense of the company's mission and good opportunities for advancement in the career field.
The home performance industry already has a strong, positive mission for workers excited about sustainability and client needs. This is even more important today, when climate concerns are at the top of mind and many homeowners are concerned about rising home energy prices. Emphasizing the value home performance professionals bring to client's financial and environmental concerns is a great way to build a sense of meaningful contribution at work.
Career advancement is another great opportunity to engage current employees in the company's mission. Can employers provide additional training resources and opportunities to encourage growth in the building performance industry? Is there a clear sense of progression for workers who have excelled in their current roles? When employees feel invested in, they are encouraged to grow their skills and increase their contributions to the company and its clients.
The Great Resignation has exacerbated employment issues stemming from the construction industry's labor shortage. Business owners must do what they can to attract and retain top talent. However, this isn't all bad for organizations as it opens up opportunities to talk with workers, evaluate new programs and move forward as a stronger, happier team.
There's a good reason employee retention is all the rage in today's workplace. Businesses in the home and build performance sector should consider the four factors above to maintain an environment where workers feel valued, supported, and encouraged to grow.
Evelyn Long is a writer and editor focused on home building and construction. She is the co-founder of Renovated, a web magazine for the home industry.