Construction Industry Employee Engagement

The surprising reason you’re losing the workforce war


Risk Management Consultant
+1 605 339 3874
July 5, 2018

Construction businesses are challenged with one of the highest rates of employee turnover and continually struggle with attracting new labor. According to industry surveys, contractors indicate recruiting and retaining employees remains their biggest pain point, year after year. Many employers focus on adjusting pay or adding benefits to build and maintain a skilled workforce. However, recent research reveals these methods may just be a bandage for a deeper issue.

A surprising result of FMI’s 2017 Industry Survey shows employee engagement is one of the most prevalent drivers of job satisfaction, yet only 39% of construction firms report measuring employee engagement. Low engagement leads to reduced productivity, toxic culture, disregard for health and safety protocols and other long-term issues. Companies with poor engagement suffer from demonstrably frequent turnover.

A natural impulse is to avoid addressing these issues out of fear, the belief solutions are too much work or outright denial of any problems. While there is not a “one size fits all” solution, there are best practices leading construction companies have successfully adopted to increase employee engagement. Here are some of their proven methods: 

  1. Gain clarity on your culture.
    Examine your mission statement and define your values. Does your message match your actions? If the answer is ‘no,’ take steps to eliminate the disconnect.
  2. Take your company’s pulse.
    This takes diligent self-reflection. Are your employees really aligned with your culture? Surveys can be an effective tool for evaluation, but they can backfire if not done correctly. Transparency and anonymity are musts. Having a third-party administer the survey can help immensely with gaining employee trust and participation.
  3. Act quickly and openly right after the “pulse” is taken.
    Employees can easily become suspicious and even disheartened right after surveys because they don’t believe there will be follow-through. This is a critical step that must be done with openness and an invitation for feedback from employees. Proactively communicate the themes that emerged from the survey and incorporate what will be done to address these themes.
  4. Be intentional about your engagement strategy.
    By now, you’ve invested significant time and effort in this process. Don’t waste your results by failing to implement change to improve your employee engagement. Creating a small committee comprised of representatives from each of your departments provides accountability, ownership and ongoing improvement.
  5. Keep your skin in the game.
    Organized activities such as a mentorship program and regularly scheduled training days to unite employees and ensure focus are two methods you can easily incorporate to complement your employee engagement strategy. However, the real heart of engaging employees comes from establishing a clear, consistent plan and providing open feedback. Don’t just tell your employees you care, show them through purposeful, routine check-ins. They will be more responsive to regular involvement and find it more meaningful than annual reviews. 
  6. Invest in your workforce.
    It’s not surprising construction companies that support ongoing professional development and offer frequent discussions between employees and leadership are faring much better in the recruitment and retention war. Instead of joining the complaint train, be the leader in the industry who takes committed action and makes an impactful change for the good of your company and employees.

With consultants who have dedicated expertise in the construction industry, Marsh & McLennan Agency understands the unique challenges construction businesses face when hiring quality employees and keeping them on your payroll. Your broker should be a trusted partner who provides tools, solutions and resources needed to alleviate these issues. Our team has access to industry-specific programs to suit your needs and the ability to deliver them locally with a personalized touch.

Sean Mayer is a risk management consultant based out of the Sioux Falls, S.D. office. With nearly 15 years of experience in the insurance industry, his dedicated focus on construction risks allows him to understand his clients’ specific exposures and tailor a risk management program that provides peace of mind.