Amid labor shortages and soaring demand, the construction industry is still contending with an ‘old’ problem: retaining top talent.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in people leaving their jobs for other professions. This phenomenon, known as “The Great Resignation,” saw approximately 790,000 people in the construction industry alone quit their jobs in the last four months of 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor (1). Shifting generational values that tend to promote other occupations over construction, as well as an increasing emphasis on more work-life balance, has made attracting and retaining a productive workforce increasingly difficult for construction firms nationwide.
However, the demand for commercial construction is only increasing. For many construction firms, the Great Resignation has served as the catalyst for evaluating how they can evolve to meet the needs of today’s workforce. For an industry that is time- and labor-intensive by nature, firms must grapple with how they can support and respect employee’s need for work-life balance while still maintaining ever-increasing labor productivity standards (2).
As an industry-leader, Swinerton is focused on ensuring each employee-owner feels healthy, balanced, accepted, and able to perform their best work. According to a 2019 Forbes article, healthy and highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability, 41% reduction in absenteeism, and 59% less turnover (3). Furthermore, engaged employees are more likely to show up every day with passion, purpose, energy, and focus for their work—which are invaluable qualities on technical jobsites that require high levels of concentration, safety, and skill.
In order to ensure Swinerton is retaining the best and brightest talent, the firm has found success investing in talent-related strategies such as improved work environments, career development programs, and company values that align with and reflect those of the workforce demographic. Through creating supportive environments where our people can thrive, we ensure our people are empowered to show up as their true selves everyday to perform their best work on our projects.
By shifting Swinerton’s mindset towards hiring an employee for a career, rather than for a single position, the company attracts ambitious and motivated talent looking for long-term employment and career growth. With a team of over 80 professionals focused solely on recruiting and developing craft and administrative Talent, we have deployed numerous workforce development initiatives that ensure a robust talent pipeline.
From internship and apprenticeship programs to robust skilled leadership development series such as our Builders IV and Better Builders initiatives—Swinerton does not just find leaders. We actively invest in and develop them from within, empowering our skilled craftspeople of today to become our leaders of tomorrow with the guidance of our network of Field Talent Partners, whose sole purpose is to create a legacy of excellent builders. At Swinerton, we are not worried about where our next Superintendents are coming from. We are already actively developing them.
In addition to our craft leadership development series, we offer career blueprints that provide employees clear roadmaps with the skills, training, and expertise needed to ascend each leadership level. Our people-focused culture also emphasizes the importance of mentorship, coaching programs, networking, and teamwork—leading to better communication, problem-solving, cost and trade partner management, risk mitigation, and a true partnership mindset on our jobsites to the benefit of our clients’ projects.
By exposing both apprentices and entry-level employees to a diverse range of future positions and options, Swinerton fosters excitement about the industry and strengthens the employment partnership. In addition, training employees and promoting from within deepens our culture and networks various roles and departments throughout the company.
A Valued Workforce
As a labor-intensive industry, construction is often subject to mental health challenges and burnout. Common obstacles such as material delays, weather disruptions, and other setbacks often result in working long hours to meet deadlines. The added stress and increased pace can create a tense environment for exhausted employees, whose fatigue puts them at risk for job-related injuries.
At Swinerton, the jobsite experience is of utmost importance. Each of our employees is empowered with “Stop Work Authority,” allowing them to halt jobsite operations at any time if unsafe conditions arise. We also constantly promote emphasize our Swinerton Culture and employee-ownership mentality—creating a sense of teamwork and shared responsibility among our teams for a jobsite’s safety and quality.
In addition, Swinerton invests greatly in and continues to elevate craft employee benefits—including 401(k) and shareholder ownership as well as health and wellness benefits that go beyond typical industry standards. Through well-established craft-focused initiatives, such as our Craft Services and our Craft Performance Awards Programs, we not only ensure we remain the employer of choice for our craftspeople, but that they constantly feel valued, respected, and compensated for their skilled work.
By offering opportunity for career advancement, extensive job training, and a culture that values the talents of each of our employee-owners, Swinerton both attracts and retains top talent. As industry-leaders, we are also actively involved in providing thought leadership in the construction space. We invite you to read the Construction Executive article Breaking Tradition: Changing Your Management Style Might Fill Your Talent Gap authored by Briana Flynn, PhD, Swinerton’s National Talent Partner Director, to learn how construction firms can adopt initiatives that increase employee retention.
Bio: Briana Flynn, PhD, is the National Talent Partner Director for Swinerton, where she leads the strategy, design, and execution of workforce development and talent management programs for over 4,300 employees.