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Train to Retain! Why training your team is a critical retention and engagement tool in 2023

Not that long ago, workplace training and development programs were designed primarily to help workers stay current on their technical skills or add to their credentials. The programs were either required for all, such as a general safety training, or available to only a select few – that conference in a tropical destination reserved only for the company’s top leaders!

The Great Resignation forced a major shift in how employers, including construction companies, keep employees on the payroll. For plenty of workers, a decent paycheck is no longer enough to keep them motivated and on the job. Increasingly, training and development programs have become essential parts of an employer’s toolbox to retain and engage workers, especially as they seek to hold on to top performers and emerging leaders who are eager to advance into management roles.

Just consider statistics like these:

Younger workers will quit when employers don’t offer training.

  • Improving their skills is a top priority for 83% of workers surveyed by Workplace Intelligence, an Amazon-commissioned research firm. Nearly 75% of Millennial and Gen Z employees say they are more likely to quit if their employer offers little skill-building support or career mobility options.

Job candidates are evaluating potential employers based on their training programs.

  • Nearly 50% of U.S. workers would take a new job if it offered enhanced training opportunities, according to a Gallup survey. Additionally, 65% said employer-provided training is critical when evaluating the potential of a new job.

Training and talent planning, especially for emerging leaders, drives business growth.

  • Talent planning fuels business growth, according to a report from the National Center for the Middle Market. Companies with annual revenue growth of 10% or higher were more likely to have a successful talent development program. These programs include learning and development initiatives and identifies “can’t-lose players” and other leaders.

In other words, helping employees grow and develop in their careers is a critical way to keep them happy, productive and working for you. In an industry like construction, with an aging workforce and a labor shortage of historic magnitude, training and developing your up-and-coming managers helps ensure you will have leaders who, in turn, can motivate and engage your workforce going forward.

Construction Companies Must Focus on Soft Skills

The industry has done a good job keeping workers trained on technical skills, but what future foremen and mid-level managers need are the soft skills required to effectively lead their team. Leadership training, in particular, can pay dividends in the effort to build a more engaged workforce and retain those ambitious young leaders.

Those emerging leaders will learn how to effectively communicate with their crews — preventing jobsite disputes that can derail deadlines; leading with empathy; and clearly conveying everything from the day’s tasks to constructive criticism.

They’ll boost their problem-solving skills — from a conflict between workers to common jobsite frustrations such as broken equipment or coordination issues between subcontractors.

And, as their employer gives them the tools they need to move up the ladder within their organization and career, they’ll see more on-the-job satisfaction and personal and professional fulfillment in their future.

What’s more, your crews will benefit from all this leadership training too. When foremen and managers have the skills to navigate the daily ups-and-downs of a jobsite, workers are more likely to remain engaged to do their best work because they have leaders who are showing them the most productive path forward.

Despite all these benefits, the construction industry has been slow to focus on training workers for these kinds of soft skills. Time and budget are common objections. But those excuses don’t work anymore. If you don’t train today’s workers, they’ve made it clear they are more likely to quit and go where they’re given the resources to grow.

There is another common quandary: You might train your most promising young leaders only to watch them leave for another job. This potential loss of talent after making a significant investment in individual development scares employers and is a real risk.  But, as the old saying goes: Would you rather train your workers and have them leave? Or would you rather not train them and have them stay?

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