Guest Contributor: Bryan May, Arcoro

The shortage of skilled workers in construction is something the industry has been dealing with for years and employers can expect more of the same labor shortage headache ahead. To keep up with projected demand, it’s estimated the industry will need to hire a million people in the next two years. Competition for both seasoned professionals and entry-level workers will be intense.

Getting people in the door is half the battle, keeping them is the other. These days, both skilled and entry-level workers have options, so it’s important to make a positive initial impression. This includes both the pre-hire experience along with how you get new talent ramped up and ready to roll.

The first weeks and months of a new job are the most promising and precarious. How you manage the transition is critical to employees’ short-term success and long-term prospects with your organization. Onboarding can create a foundation of engagement, trust and knowledge or — if done poorly — can leave a new recruit without the tools to be productive.

One earmark of poor onboarding is whether it’s labor-intensive for existing staff. Some companies rely on managers and supervisors in the field to orient new employees. While these people are key to the strategic parts of onboarding—like explaining safety protocols and work policies—their time is not well spent collecting paperwork. Whether you bring on a lot of employees at once to staff a project, or one or two at a time, an onboarding process that’s repeatable and can scale for each cohort of hires is the most efficient.

Seize the day

Strong onboarding can increase productivity and retention, but unfortunately, it generally falls short.

Just 12% of employees say their company delivered a great onboarding experience and 9% have actually left a job because of poor onboarding. In this labor market, you can’t afford to lose even one hard-won employee because they didn’t have a good start with your company.

Create a better experience

To ensure your onboarding is meeting your workforce management goals, consider doing the following:

  1. Audit your current onboarding process to identify areas for improvement. Consider how you’re using technology including the level of employee self-service available, especially if you’re onboarding in the field.
  2. Survey new employees about their onboarding experience. Ask specifically what went well and where the experience could be better.
  3. Determine what employees really need to know to perform. In addition to relevant training, are they getting solid exposure to a positive company culture?
  4. Look at who’s delivering onboarding. Are you taking supervisors away from their regular work to do administrative tasks? Does the HR function spend a significant time onboarding new employees?

Onboarding is important but shouldn’t be burdensome. This is especially true in construction where companies need to work smarter to leverage the staff they have. Appropriate technology can help you deliver a positive new-hire experience while minimizing the time your key staff has to devote to getting people up and running.

Bryan MayAuthor
Bryan has been a part of the Arcoro organization for 22 years. Over that time, he and his team have helped 1,000s of construction companies simplify their HR processes and improve employee experience along every part of the employee lifecycle. A regular speaker at state and national AGC events, Bryan is a resident expert on recruiting, affirmative action compliance, talent management and employee engagement.

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