During the hiring process, candidates get to meet with many company leaders, from their direct managers to executives in the firm. They hear a lot about how excited the leadership is to have them on board and, for many new employees, that’s the last they’ll hear from a company executive.
THE PROBLEM WITH SILENCE
From the time they begin work, especially if they’re predominantly based out in the field, most employees won’t see or speak to the company higher-ups—at least not with any degree of regularity. That unfortunate trend can pose a real problem that most companies don’t think about.
For example, imagine a field team learns from subcontractors that those subcontractors haven’t been getting paid. Without context, people are always going to assume the worst—and that news could make the field personnel believe their company is financially unstable and that their jobs are at risk. They might start looking around the market to find a more stable position and, before their managers know it, the company is grappling with significant turnover—all because no one at the top thought to mention to the field team that there was a change in accounting software, resulting in a few glitches that were being handled.
IT’S ALL ABOUT PERSONAL TOUCHES
Making the effort to improve communication from the top can save a construction company money and increase loyalty among its employees. The truth is that loyalty is easy and cheap to buy; however, it’s not about money—it’s all about personal touches. More employees are reporting a desire to work for a company that cares about them as a person; paychecks are no longer enough to keep good workers happy and engaged. Simply put, employees want to know that their employer sees them as more than just a payroll number. Luckily, there’s a simple way to help employees see that their company values them as individuals: pick up the phone.
MAKE PERSONAL PHONE CALLS
Leaders in construction companies should be reaching out to employees regularly. It’s important for managers to include employees outside their regular circle of direct reports in these communication efforts. Managers should be calling onsite project managers, superintendents, and other field- or site-based personnel. Everyone likes to feel special and important, and most leaders underestimate how much it will mean to employees to hear from the principals of their company.
Company leaders should put these calls on their calendars so they don’t let them fall through the cracks. They might try organizing the company into groups and covering a percentage of those groups every week. As a rule of thumb, a manager should be reaching out once per quarter to each employee. It might help to schedule these “personal touch” calls for first thing in the morning so that managers take care of them before other obligations cross their desks and clutter their inboxes.
The phone calls can take as little as two minutes. The manager should tell them that they’re calling just to check-in or to congratulate them on a win. Ask how they’re doing or if there’s anything they need. Ask about their families. And, most importantly, tell them how much the company appreciates their hard work. Make sure they know that the company’s success depends on them.
If they don’t answer the phone, the manager can leave a voicemail, which is still enough to make an impact. However, managers should not resort to emails, which are impersonal and won’t have the same effect as a phone call.
EMPLOYEES ARE THE TOP PRIORITY
There are always going to be obstacles and demands on any manager’s time, but they should remember that when they reach senior management, they’re no longer just managing projects and money.
First and foremost, they’re managing people, so they must take the time to speak with those people. Their employees will be more engaged and loyal as the manager builds a personal rapport with employees at every level, and the company’s turnover rate will decrease. Employees are the building blocks of a company and serve as brand ambassadors, so managers should treat them well and the company will reap the rewards.