When interviewing and hiring new employees do you consider how the candidate will impact your construction company’s reputation? Your employees are the face of your company. Your company’s reputation is a direct reflection of the quality of the work they do and their professionalism on the jobsite. They can either help you build and maintain a strong reputation for your business or demolish it.
I grew up a Three Stooges fan. My mom and I used to watch reruns of their film shorts every Sunday morning when I was little, a weekly ritual that carried on until I left for college. In their 190 short films, their onscreen personas held dozens of jobs, many in the construction trades. They worked as painters, carpet layers, paper hangers, handymen, plumbers, electricians, riveters and carpenters. They weren’t successful at any of these careers, which is probably why they jumped from job to job, and they typically were run of the jobsite before the end of the film. These are not the kind of employees you want representing your company.
The Stooges were inept, unskilled, unprofessional and incompetent knuckleheads. Not to mention that they would have been a site safety supervisor’s worst nightmare. Sure, Moe doling out eye pokes, hammer blows and dragging a saw across Curly’s head (which resulted in a damaged saw) makes for great slapstick, but an OSHA inspector would have a field day with hijinks like that at a jobsite.
Here are some tips to help you avoid employing stooges in your construction company:
Have a Company Culture That Attracts Top Talent
You want to be an employer of choice in both your industry and your local area. In order to attract the best applicants you have to be a company people want to work for. First you need to make sure you are offering competitive wages and benefits like health insurance and gym membership reimbursement to your employees. In order to be a desirable employer you also need to be a company that is both challenging and rewarding to work for.
Most of all your employees want to feel appreciated and valued. This can be something as simple verbal acknowledgement on a job well done or through a bonus program for jobs completed on time and within budget. Set your company apart from the competition so that you are the first place candidates apply to when looking for a new job rather than being a last resort.
Set Up a Referral Program
Reward your employees for sending new talent your way. I’d bet every single one of your employees knows someone who is either actively looking for a job or isn’t satisfied with their current situation. Offer cash or some other reward to employees when they refer someone who you hire and makes it through their probationary period.
Other good sources for referrals are your friends, family members and the companies you do business with from subcontractors to material suppliers. Don’t overlook your social media sources either. If you are on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter be sure and reach out to your connections and let them know you are hiring.
Don’t Hold Out For That Ideal Candidate
Rarely are you going to have a candidate walk through your door with all the skills, experience and education that you laid out in your job posting. Most likely you’ll end up with candidates that have all the skills your require, but are a couple years shy of the experience you are looking for or maybe they have the years of experience, but their skillset has a couple of holes.
You can always train someone who has the work ethic and desire to improve. Would you rather hire the less experienced person who will show every day on time and ready to work or the person who has loads of experience and can do the job, but has bounced from job to job or is otherwise a horrible employee?
Do Your Homework
Before you make that offer, make sure you’ve done your due diligence to ensure that the candidate is a good fit for your company. Ask for references and contact them to get an idea of what kind of employee your candidate will be. Spend the money to conduct background checks, drug screenings and pre-employment assessment tests on potential new hires.
Know when it’s time to part ways. After the first couple of months on the job, you should have a good understanding of what type of employee your new hire is going to end up being. Don’t continue to spend your time and money on an employee who isn’t working out.
Always Be Recruiting
Are you planning to expand your operations in the next six months? Do you have an estimator or project manager you know is planning to retire in the next year? Even if you answered no to those two questions, you should always keep an eye out for potential new employees. It’s always better to have a pipeline of candidate lined up rather than starting from scratch when an employee suddenly leaves. Keep a file of prior applicants that you can comb back through when a position becomes available.
Look to the future by offering internships and co-ops to local high school, trade school and college students. Find local apprenticeship programs, or consider starting your own, so you have an additional pipeline to tap into when it comes time to hire a new employee.
One of my favorite shorts is A Plumbing We Will Go where Moe, Larry and Curly are mistaken for plumbers. The task of fixing a simple leak soon goes disastrously wrong. Curly creates an M. C. Escher-like maze of pipes while trying to fix an additional leak he caused while Larry digs up the yard trying to find the water main shut off. Later, Moe and Curly manage to connect the water line to an electrical conduit and the gas line which results in water gushing from a TV, a light fixture, the stovetop and a telephone receiver. At one point after “fixing” the leak Moe quips, “Who said you need brains to be a plumber?” While hilarious, they aren’t anyone’s definition of a model employee. This isn’t the type of behavior you expect from your employees.
Don’t be a victim of soicumstance! Protect your company’s reputation by hiring workers who have a vested interest in making your company better, not someone who just shows up every day to get a paycheck.