Will Yandell: the construction industry must undergo a shift in culture and actually empower employees

Staff retention is, and has for a long time, been a major issue in the construction industry. An endemic failure to make a workforce feel valued and rewarded is leading to widespread loss of staff, and a critical way of addressing this concern is being missed. Bonus schemes, share options and government initiatives aimed at schools and colleges are all well and good, but the construction industry must undergo a shift in culture and actually empower employees, rather than offer short-term appeasements.

A solid and extensive recruitment plan is one thing, but it is all for nothing if there is not a strong emphasis on retention. Low visibility of overall project direction and little direct responsibility makes employees feel undervalued and more susceptible to the lure of the appointments pages.

Employers need to provide an environment where junior employees can gain access to the bigger picture by having full visibility of a project– viewing all the available information, including documentation. Through this information junior employees will be empowered to take ownership of project decisions.

A team member who is not shown how their role fits into the larger project scheme and is not offered the tools with which to add value to a project’s direction and success will not be appeased by internal promotions or salary benchmarking. Employers must appreciate the needs of the employee in order to understand the difference between encouraging people to stay with the company and the option ultimately doomed to fail – bribery.