Contractors ramp up their recruiting efforts: FMI

SPECIAL TO CONTRACTOR RALEIGH, N.C. The changing workforce is forcing contractors to develop new ways to find, recruit and retain talent as competition for qualified workers continues to increase, according to FMI's "2007 U.S. Construction Industry Talent Development report." The management consultant's recently released survey finds that most organizations have increased their recruiting efforts

SPECIAL TO CONTRACTOR

RALEIGH, N.C. — The changing workforce is forcing contractors to develop new ways to find, recruit and retain talent as competition for qualified workers continues to increase, according to FMI's "2007 U.S. Construction Industry Talent Development report."

The management consultant's recently released survey finds that most organizations have increased their recruiting efforts at schools, colleges and universities; implemented training to improve specific competencies; promoted internally;and provided internships or co-op programs.

Three-quarters or more of respondents said they are: increasing recruiting efforts at schools and colleges (87%); training to improve performance in specific competencies (84%); promoting internally to key positions ( 82%) ; and providing internships or co-op programs (78%).

More than half the respondents indicated they are preparing for a changing workforce by: identifying current gaps in core competencies (56%); employing "best practices" to retain key talent (53%); establishing core competencies by position (53%); and recruiting in nontraditional labor pools (51%).

About a third or less of those surveyed acknowledged that they are projecting competencies needed in their businesses in the next five to 10 years (35%), poaching employees from other firms (20%) or offering phased retirement (16%) as they prepare for a changing workforce.

The survey identifies a variety of nontraditional recruiting methods and recruits.

One way to attract women to construction is to reach them at an early age, in grade school. Other ways to attract women to the field include well-structured mentoring programs, a competitive compensation and benefits package, a friendly and nondiscriminatory work environment and a commitment to rewarding excellence.

While all states have some type of re-entry program for nonviolent offenders, many offer apprenticeships or vocational programs to prisoners while they are still incarcerated, so that they will have a better chance of finding employment when they are released.

Helmets to Hardhats, a program to help military personnel find commercial construction jobs, was launched in January 2003 after Congress approved a $3.4 million appropriation for the pilot program as part of the Defense Appropriations Act. Helmets to Hardhats provides a link between veterans and soldiers and 15 building and construction trades organizations that are eager to hire them, especially for many of the skills they learn in the military. These organizations represent 82,000 contractors nationwide.

More than three-quarters of those surveyed use internships or co-op programs as a recruitment tool. Internships are usually a win-win situation for both the employers and the interns, the report states, as they allow both parties to see how the job fits. Benefits of hiring former interns include increased retention rates of new employees, reduced training periods and improved personnel selection by using actual on-the-job performance as a real measurement for future success.

Internal employee referral programs are also very popular, with 73% of respondents using them. Research indicates that these programs yield high-quality hires while decreasing the amount of time spent in the hiring process. In addition, it strengthens the bond with the employees who referred the new hires by boosting their morale. Rounding out the top three recruiting tools, at 68%, is posting job openings on the company Website.

FMI asked how many people prepare a yearly budget for training activities, and 82% indicated they do. This number has steadily increased over the years, from 74% who budgeted for training last year to 54% in 2003. About 2.6% of the company's payroll is spent on training.

More than half (56%) of the respondents said they use personality profiles, such as Myers-Briggs, DiSC or the Predictive Index as a part of the selection process. This is followed by job knowledge tests (52%), third-party interviews (26%) and customized assessments (26%). Organizations conduct employment testing to help select, promote or place employees with the goal predicting future job behaviors and choosing the best applicants in terms their future job performance.

"Which of the following is your company doing to retain its key talent?" FMI asked. A tie for the No. 1 response indicates that 84% of those surveyed provide training opportunities for their employees as well as offer competitive salaries. Challenging job assignments, enjoyable work environments and tuition reimbursement round out the top five responses.

Only 11.6% of respondents indicated that they have clear career paths for their employees as part of their retention strategies. This is a practice more companies should consider, FMI said, since helping employees achieve their career goals encourages them to remain with the organization, thereby reducing voluntary turnover.

This year FMI expanded the focus of the survey to take a critical look at talent development in a broader context. The 2007 report examines several challenges companies face in the ongoing competition for talent, including recruitment, retention, performance management and succession planning.

A copy of FMI's report is available by calling 800/877-1364.