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Creating a great place to work that truly supports employees’ needs is more important than ever when striving to retain a successful workforce and attract new and qualified talent. In the construction industry, we are dealing with alarming statistics with nearly 413,000 unfilled positions. In addition, a large portion of the current construction workforce is expected to retire over the next decade.

Attracting and retaining the best talent in any industry starts with a commitment to a company culture that values its employees and fosters support for one’s career growth. This can be achieved in several ways, including exceptional compensation and benefits packages, employee training and development and opportunities for career advancement.

I believe a key element to building a great place to work is employee ownership. Employee ownership can be achieved through employee stock options or other forms of profit-sharing. Another way is by involving employees in decision-making processes and providing opportunities for input and feedback.

With this model, employees feel like they have skin in the game as it pertains to the company’s success. In turn, it can have a positive impact on the company’s engagement culture as employees are often more invested in not only their day-to-day work but the future of the company and share an ongoing commitment to industry partners and clients.

At the heart of any strong company is an unwavering sense of community and belonging for employees. To help employees feel part of a team, companies can offer open communication channels, team-building and social activities, volunteer work and philanthropy and more. Additionally, companies that prioritize giving back to their communities demonstrate a commitment to their values and show employees that they are part of something larger than themselves.

Creating a safe and supportive work environment is also essential to building a strong company culture. This includes providing appropriate safety equipment and training, as well as taking steps to prevent workplace harassment and discrimination.

Offering a robust selection of benefits to your employees can increase productivity, retention and attract qualified new applicants. With the job market so competitive, it’s important to identify what sets your company apart and offer benefits that are better than others. Here are some examples to help companies maintain their competitive edge.

  • Premium healthcare: Comprehensive health benefits—including medical, dental and vision care—often ranks as the number one thing job seekers look for.
  • Flexible remote work: For industries like construction, where the model of remote work isn’t ideal, you can offer flexibility in other ways. For example, construction project managers can rotate schedules so that teams can spend more time with their families. Many parents in our office positions leave early when needed to take their kids to activities—no questions asked from their managers. Taking an entrepreneurial approach to different offices and sectors across the company may allow managers to define what works best for them when it comes to flexible schedules that support their needs and the needs of their families.
  • College investment plan: Employers can support their employees and their growing families by offering a CollegeInvest 529 Savings Plan, an educational savings account where employees can grow their savings, tax-free, for various college expenses.
  • Wellness reimbursement: As employees are focusing more on their health and well-being, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, employers may find it beneficial to support wellness activities to boost engagement, retention and company morale. For example, employees may be granted up to a certain dollar amount per calendar year for an expense for various wellness activities and initiatives like a gym membership, counseling services, workout equipment, ski and snowboard passes and financial wellness services to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
  • Support for nursing mothers: With more women balancing motherhood and a career, a job that comes with guaranteed maternity leave may not be enough to keep a person from leaving these days. Think of other ways to provide support, like company-paid breast milk shipping options for new moms or on-site nursing rooms with medical-grade pumps and supplies.
  • Employee referral program: To increase engagement and a sense of ownership, companies can encourage employees to refer qualified talent in exchange for a referral bonus if the person is hired.

Career development is critical to maintaining a great place to work and can include various resources like on-the-job training, mentorship programs, continued education and professional development opportunities. Be sure to take an active role in building a robust community of experts. Building a learning culture that uses an approach where employees are continually enhancing their knowledge, growing their skill set and developing their resources to prepare them for the next big project, technological advancement and industry innovation is key. This level of support not only helps retain great talent but also helps with succession planning so companies may continue to build on their legacy.

And one final thought—which is so important to maintaining a great place to work—be sure to provide career advancement opportunities to deserving staff. Performance-based promotions and leadership development trainings can lead to increased employee engagement and retention.

Creating a great place to work requires a lot of commitment, but companies that prioritize these elements will be better positioned for success in the coming years.