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Finding Top Talent during Economic Recovery


A slight upturn in the state of the Canadian economy has meant a return to normalcy and an improvement in conditions and operations for most businesses. Unfortunately, this improvement is countered by an increase in the difficulties associated with attracting and retaining employees. For the architecture, building and construction industries the pain of the shift is especially heightened due to industry-specific challenges around human resources.

The economic downturn resulted in a sluggish job market where the talent pool was deep, applications were collected in abundance and candidates were often over qualified. This arguably made hiring easier and retaining employees as simple as handing out regular pay cheques. An improvement in the markets, however, creates additional opportunity and options for employees, forcing businesses to adjust hiring practices fast enough to attract and retain talent. The talent pool is quickly becoming shallow, leaving businesses in the building and construction industry to essentially bid on qualified candidates with multiple offers.

With continual shifts in the cost of building materials, the construction industry experiences market volatility on a relatively larger scale than many other industries. As a result, managing staffing levels presents a significant human resource challenge to the industry. Managers and supervisors must cope with the ebb and flow of balancing the budget, while ensuring that their top talent can remain on the job. Adding to the challenge is the industry’s common practice of “employee theft” by competitors, as talent is always in high demand.

There is much that can be done within the building and construction industries to improve hiring and recruiting practices. Both small and subtle changes as well as foundational shifts will help to boost attraction and retention of new and top employees.

Move faster

Companies with hiring and interview processes that move at glacial speed simply lose out on talent.

In order to attract talent, companies need to quickly adapt their hiring practices to each shift in the economy. In general, companies need to start by picking up the pace as the younger talent pool are keen on landing their next job as quickly and easily as possible. Having to wait days to hear about a job after an interview provides opportunity for a competitor to scoop a candidate, or leave a sour taste in their mouth about a company. Creating a system for the hiring process, complete with tight timelines and prepared offers or employment packages provides the best blue print for success.

Perfect your company ‘pitch’

Hitting the market with a strong description and overall air of confidence as a company will help to solidify outsider uptake and confidence in a business or project. Representing the company with an enthusiasm that will entice candidates can be extended into all forms of communication, whether in an interview, on the corporate website, at a job fair or integrated into emails and promotional materials. Affirmation of positivity within a company will undoubtedly resonate outwards.

Offer an attractive package

Candidates have the ability to shop around in a strong market, so standards in terms of pay and benefits need to be addressed. The exact components of an offer, however, can be as creative or flexible as desired.

Junior team members may be enticed by the opportunity to work closely with seasoned and highly productive team members or management to garner experience and accelerate skill building. Some employees may be attracted to autonomy and task management, whereas others may prefer to be sheltered by the company and simply complete tasks as they are assigned. Compensation structure and positioning should be directly tied to an individual’s goals where possible. This also allows a company to identify those with management potential and groom them for loyalty and success on a project or with a company.

Keep an open mind when it comes to what might appeal to each potential candidate and remain flexible in possibly offering them package options specifically suited to their needs. This personalized approach will not go unnoticed.

Identify your ‘ideal’ candidate

It is imperative that building and construction managers and hiring professionals are able to immediately identify the qualities of a good candidate and present them with a suitable offer quickly. This of course, warrants a look at what some of these key qualities are.

Having a solid grasp on what to look for in a new hire can mean the difference between securing a hire and losing them to a competitor. If they possess the right stuff, companies need to be on the ball in acknowledging this.

The precise desired combination of qualities may depend on the business or project at hand, but in general natural communicators and leaders or those who offer experience married with technical expertise, generally work well in the industry. A sense of ownership and pride in quality standards can also be noted as a critical key quality in potential employees.

Prepare for the future

Consideration must be paid to a company’s overall structure and future preparedness. Does your company have the right people in the right positions to ensure success in an up market? A careful look at overall staffing structure will help to identify potential issues and define how a company will cope with issues such as increases in the price of materials, succession planning and staff shortages. Contingencies in such cases can be built around operational and staff structures that encourage team work and cooperation, meaning that when one person steps out, their work can be picked up or shared by others easily. The shift in staff volumes in the building industry is somewhat inevitable, but with clear communication to staff on how and why this will be handled, ensures that they feel secure and can brace with the company as these shifts occur.

The upturn in the economy has shed light on, and in some cases exacerbated issues around attracting and retaining employees in building and construction. But with attention to key hiring practices, managers can ensure that they are equipped to ride waves of the market and guarantee success in attracting young talent. The HR scene is proving tumultuous and competitive terrain, so taking action in making changes to recruitment is a must.




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