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Employee Retention Strategies During the Pandemic

Even before Covid-19, the construction industry was facing a talent shortage, an aging workforce, and an inadequate pipeline of younger workers.

The pandemic has heightened the importance of focusing on the retention of your existing workforce, even while navigating local government shutdowns, employee concerns about work-related COVID-19 exposures, and dwindling project backlogs.

By maintaining flexibility, addressing compensation, improving communication, and focusing on career development, contractors can retain their top talent and keep their employees productive and safe.

Maintain Flexibility

Employee flexibility can take many forms but should be available for all employees – whether in an office or on a jobsite. This may include expanding remote work, which will create flexibility within the workday or week for employees with caregiver responsibilities and help to reduce commute time. This flexibility will relieve some of the work-life balance pressures that employees feel and should also translate into increased efficiency.

Measuring efficiency is one way of ensuring that flexibility is benefitting the business, but it’s also a way to ensure that the flexible benefit is being offered and used equitably. Companies will be keenly interested in profitability per employee in 2020 following this move to remote work. If this metric shows improvement, it will help to support the shift of resources away from physical and real estate costs and toward collaborative technology and cloud-based platforms.

If employees are working from home, a company should ensure that many of its employees’ home office IT costs are covered. This may include a computer, extra monitors, a printer, and paper. Companies may discover that expenses for what were previously transportation costs are now expenses related to remote work. Companies need to document these new costs related to remote work and create effective budgets for these expenses.

Measuring line item costs and what a company needs to be successful is critical, specifically in a construction environment with a flexible and remote workspace. Documenting costs related to COVID-19 is important – and will become an ongoing best practice – for any contractor that accepted pandemic-related benefits through federal or state programs.

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About the Authors

Laura Cataldo

Laura Cataldo is a Senior Manager at Baker Tilly in Madison, WI, and helps construction organizations of all sizes evaluate business practices and assists with management challenges.

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Kurt Siebenaller

Kurt Siebenaller is Partner at Baker Tilly located in Southfield, MI.

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