Create a Culture of CARE – Part 3

How to Create a Culture of CARE – Part 3

Retain Employees through a Culture of CARE: Strategies for Long-Term Engagement & Loyalty

May 1, 2024

Retaining loyal employees is a top priority for the construction industry. While there is no way to avoid the talent cliff, companies who invest in increasing employee engagement are able to offset the costs of recruitment and disruption when there is a loss of talent.

Studies show that the cost to retain a current employee is significantly lower than the cost to hire and train a new employee. Therefore, retaining and increasing the number of loyal employees is not only cost-effective but also contributes to a more stable and productive workforce, which is vital for long-term success.

In part two of this series, we discussed best practices related to showing living out the “A” in Culture of CARE, attracting talent by creating inclusive workplaces. Three themes we learned from Impact Champions who have taken the Culture of CARE pledged were as follows; 1.) Activate CARE for current employees, 2.) Evaluate where to access diverse talent, and 3.) Build authentic and sustainable relationships.

In part three of our series, we will explore how Impact Champions, (this refers to AGC members who have taken the Culture of CARE pledge), use CARE to retain top talent.

As a reminder, the R in Culture of CARE is defined as:

  • RETAIN – high-performing employees by identifying and removing barriers to advancement.

Best Practices and tips to Retain talent: 

The best retention strategies in construction and outside the industry continue to be framed around two core components, rewarding compensation and providing comprehensive benefit packages. For example, Clark Construction has implemented unlimited paid time off to support those with growing families and special health matters that require a longer period of time off from work. As we interviewed other Impact Champions, we found additional retention levers to pull to retain high-performing employees.

Below are the top themes that emerged from our interviews with Impact Champions:

  1. 1. Engage Employees Intentionally

Regardless of the company size, employees need to feel heard and have a sense of belonging. A few effective ways to hear feedback are employee engagement surveys, regular check-ins with employees through small group listening sessions or 1-to-1 stay interviews. A stay interview is a great way to learn why your employee chooses to remain employed with your company and what are potential concerns or conditions that might cause them to leave. This is especially important for younger high-performing employees who are seeking regular opportunities for mutual feedback and connection.

Additional ways to engage employees intentionally include employee resource groups, company newsletters, informal chat communication, lunch-n-learns and more.

Impact Champion Spotlight: Granite Construction

“Culture of CARE does not overtly state treat people how they want to be treated, but that’s exactly what we are doing at Granite.” says Jorge Quezada, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of People, at Granite Construction. “Our goal with the Culture of CARE and Inclusive Diversity at Granite is to notice the similarities and differences in the workplace. To understand each individual based on what they need and to act by treating our employees with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Granite invites their 10,000 employees across the U.S. to feel heard and a sense of belonging through a variety of connection and communication touch points. The following are examples of the many different ways Granite engages employees intentionally: employee resource groups, community hour, Granite Radio 192.2, Inclusive Conversation Podcast (internal), Construction DEI Talks Podcast (external) in partnership with Rosendin, Yammer, an inclusion and diversity newsletter, learning opportunities, and more.

Given Granite’s company size, each region operates with autonomy to activate the employee engagement resources that will serve their team needs. As it relates to connecting with employees about inclusion and diversity topics Quezada says, “It’s not about going fast. It’s not about going slow. It’s about going far.”

  1. 2. Set and Track Retention Goals

Traditionally, metrics in this area have been led by state or trade partner mandates or requirements. We encourage Impact Champions to develop an inventory of metrics to measure progress in inclusion and diversity. A good place to start is to take the AGC Diversity & Inclusion Assessment, which tracks and measures progress in four key areas: workplace culture, workforce, supplier diversity and community engagement. It also tracks employee demographics companywide, and at the executive, manager/supervisor, professional office staff,and craft worker levels. Visit agc.org/culture-assessment for more information.

One company interviewed set a goal to be 30% female by 2030. Each year they will track their progress attracting and retaining female talent to achieve this long-term goal.

Impact Champion Spotlight: Columbia Construction 

Bill Aalerud, Executive Vice President of Massachusetts-based company Columbia Construction, says, “We utilize our diversity, equity and inclusion strategic plan as a guide to take intentional and measurable actions that will positively impact our company, the construction industry and the communities in which we work.”

Columbia brainstormed and visualized for two years its desired outcome before establishing a detailed five-year strategic plan with solid metrics to begin to make that vision a reality. Aalerud realized that to achieve these metrics they needed to hire a Director of People Strategy. “If it’s not on somebody’s job description it will never get done,” he says.

  1. 3. Identify High-performing Employees (earlier) for Training

Training and development are no longer optional for construction companies that want to retain high-performing employees. In fact, 78% of respondents to FMI’s 2023 Talent Study reported having a dedicated budget for training and development. Incoming younger talent is likely to lead at an early phase in their career and often are seeking opportunities for advancement earlier in their career path. Conversely, this same younger talent is likely to leave an organization where they don’t see career advancement or growth opportunities. Therefore, leaders need to quickly identify both high-performing and high-potential employees for training and development – especially in the field where the highest turnover rates are expected in the next five years.

Impact Champion Spotlight:  Rosendin Electric  

Rosendin Electric’s Vice President of Learning and Development, Stephanie Roldan, confirms, “We found that emerging leaders didn’t have as much visibility or hadn’t really thought of themselves in those roles. So now every year we host an Emerging Leaders program. While all topics of leadership are discussed, there is also a focus on inclusive behaviors to make them stronger leaders.”

Rosendin also encourages employees to use self-selected learning journeys through LinkedIn. When employees are looked at for career advancement, they request a transcript of their completed training. Roldan shares, “once we know that you can invest at that level (more than forty hours), then we need to make further investment in your growth.”

  1. 4. Create Transparent Pathways for Career Advancement and Succession Planning

In DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2023 report, findings reveal that all industries are struggling with succession (bench strength) with only 12% having identified the next generation of leaders. The construction industry is impacted on a deeper level with 62% of companies reporting little strategic thinking on succession planning in general. (Source: FMI 2023 Talent Study).

Through our interviews with Impact Champions we learned how companies are leveraging Culture of CARE to abandon traditional (behind closed doors) ways of leadership selection and embrace transparency to be inclusive when identifying opportunities for career advancement, specifically for historically excluded groups such as Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; women and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Impact Champion Spotlight:  Rosendin Electric  

Roldan shares how Rosendin Electric removed barriers and created a transparent pathway to career advancement. “We moved from a leadership-selection process more towards a self-selection process with leadership then vetting the applications, which increased our women participation and our minority participation in the program,” she says.

Impact Champion Spotlight:  Bulley & Andrews  

In general, succession planning is often a lower priority for companies. However, when it comes to having a Culture of CARE it must be reprioritized higher on the list. Succession planning can increase retention of high-performing employees, especially if they – or leaders who look like them – are being looked to for future enterprise leadership roles.

In short, representation matters, Kirstin Starkey, Bulley & Andrew’s Director of Human Resources, underscored this point by relaying a comment from a junior staffer. “We recently hired a Black senior project manager. One of our younger professionals, a project engineer who is also Black, felt comfortable sharing, ‘There’s somebody that looks like me in a senior role. That gives me confidence that it’s possible for me, too.”

Ready to Commit?

Along with a solid compensation and benefits package, the strategies discussed in this article work together to retain high-performing employees. However, they also could be used to empower employees to promote Culture of CARE, which we will discuss further in the final How to CARE tips guide series.

About the Author:

Michelle Thompson, MBA, is a Leadership and Organizational Development consultant at FMI serving as a consultant and facilitator to empower and equip the next generation of construction leaders. Michelle is also a certified administrator with Intercultural Development Inventory® offering a way for companies to measure both team and individual intercultural competence, the bridge for diversity and inclusion. To learn more email michelle.thompson@fmicorp.com.

 

Return to News Page | Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Go to Part 4 ( Available July 1, 2024)