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How construction companies can reduce recruitment and training costs

In today's tough business climate, construction companies are under increasing pressure to reduce costs. And with a skills shortage in full flow, recruitment costs are going in the opposite direction. Fortunately, by taking a few simple steps, construction companies can reduce the amount of money they spend on recruiting and training new workers, without compromising on quality. By thinking outside the traditional hiring process and partnering with local schools and training programs, you can find the best candidates while saving time and money.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at all the options.

But first...

What is the cost of recruitment, onboarding and training in construction?

The cost of recruiting, onboarding and training a new worker can vary significantly depending on the role. But typically, the average costs for hiring and training a new employee amount to £25,181 by the time they've reached optimum productivity (typically 28 weeks in the role). And with the average construction worker able to command higher salaries at the moment, this makes the overall sum even higher.

The £25,181 is broken down as follows:

  • Hiring temporary workers before the replacement starts: £3,618

  • Management time spent interviewing candidates: £767

  • Recruitment agency fees: £454

  • Advertising the new role: £398

  • HR time spent processing replacement: £196

  • 28 weeks' salary spent getting the new employee up to speed

When you factor in all the costs associated with recruiting and training new workers, it’s no wonder that construction companies are always on the lookout for ways to reduce these expenses.

So, how can construction companies reduce their recruitment and training costs?

Focus on retention

As the figures above demonstrate, losing an employee is costly so there is significant value in working to retain your best workers. To do this, construction companies should focus on creating a positive working environment and offering competitive salaries.

It’s also worth considering other benefits such as flexible working arrangements, which can help to keep workers happy and reduce staff turnover. In the construction industry, where workers are often required to work long hours and be on call, offering flexible working arrangements can be a game-changer when it comes to retention.

Other ways to keep workers happy and engaged include regular performance reviews, opportunities for development and career progression, and social events. All of these initiatives will help to create a positive working environment and encourage employees to stay with the company for longer.

Make your business (and the industry as a whole) more attractive to candidates

As recent research from the CITB found, the Construction industry needs to work hard to make itself more attractive to new candidates. If your company can act on any of the following recommendations, you'll have a head start over your competitors:

  • Offer more work experience opportunities

  • Raise the visibility of career pathways through examples and personal stories to help people see the relevance of their skills

  • Segment their target audience of candidates to ensure more targeted marketing

  • Work to broaden the view of potential recruits of what the industry offers and what working in the industry is really like with ambassadors and vocal role models

  • Break down the perception that the industry has a macho culture

Get creative with your job postings

You're trying to attract a younger generation of construction workers so you need to make sure your job postings stand out and focus on their issues they care about most. Make sure you highlight the benefits of working for your company, such as flexible working arrangements, competitive salaries, and opportunities for development and career progression.

Another useful tip is to use social media to reach out to potential candidates. This is a particularly effective way of reaching younger workers who are active on platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. With 22% of the workforce over 50, and 15% in their 60s, the skills gap will only grow unless young people fill it.

LinkedIn is also incredibly useful for finding candidates with the specific skills and experience that you’re looking for. You can use the platform to search for potential candidates, connect with them and even message them directly.

You could also hold open days as part of the process so that people can meet some of your staff and learn about their experiences at your company, before they apply.

Think outside the traditional hiring process

When it comes to recruitment, construction companies should look beyond the traditional hiring process and find alternative ways to find workers. One option is to partner with local schools and training programs to source workers.

This can be a great way to find high-quality candidates who are already familiar with the construction industry and have the necessary skills and qualifications. It’s also an opportunity to nurture young talent and help them develop their careers in construction. The Construction Youth Trust is a great body to partner with to find and engage talent and to share job postings.

Then as part of the interview process, instead of expecting word-perfect cvs and cover letters, why not consider conducting phone or video interviews? This will give you a better idea of their personality and communication skills and save the candidate time and travel costs.

Use technology to your advantage

Technology can help in many ways when it comes to reducing recruitment and training costs. There are a number of online platforms that offer cost-effective and efficient ways to find candidates, screen them and even train them.

One such platform is eSkill, which offers a range of tests that can be used to assess a candidate’s skills and abilities. These tests are an effective way to screen candidates and ensure that they have the right skills for the job.

For more ideas on how technology can help your HR efforts, click here.

Use Word-of-Mouth

Another way to reduce the cost of recruiting is by using word-of-mouth. If you have existing construction workers who are happy with their jobs, they may be willing to refer others to you. Offering a referral bonus is a great way to incentivise your employees to help you find qualified candidates. Not only will this save you money on advertising and recruiting costs, but it will also help ensure that you're getting quality candidates who are already familiar with your company culture.

Consider ex-offenders to fill vacancies

While construction companies may be reluctant to consider ex-offenders for vacant positions, this can actually be a great way to find high-quality candidates. There are a number of organisations that specialise in supporting ex-offenders into employment, such as BounceBack which focuses primarily on the construction industry.

These organisations can provide you with access to a pool of talented and qualified candidates, who may otherwise struggle to find work. Ex-offenders can be a great asset to your company, and by providing them with employment opportunities, you can help them turn their lives around.

Fill gaps with apprenticeship schemes

If you’re struggling to fill specific roles within your company, another option is to consider apprenticeship schemes. Apprenticeships are a great way to train people in the specific skills that you need, while also giving them on-the-job experience.

There are a number of apprenticeship schemes available in the construction industry, most of which are supported by GoConstruct which is a great place to start if you're looking to launch one. For other tips on running a successful apprenticeship scheme, check out our guide.

Impress with the offer letter

Gen Zs expect a lot more than an attractive salary when considering a job offer. In order to stand out from the competition, your offer letter needs to be impressive and include a comprehensive benefits package.

Your benefits package should go beyond the basics of health insurance and pension contributions. To really make an impact, consider offering things like flexible working arrangements, paid time off for volunteering, and access to professional development opportunities.

You should also set out a clear career path so new employees can understand the long-term benefits of joining your company.

If you’re not sure where to start, our guide to creating an impressive offer letter will help you get started.

On to training...

Create an Onboarding Program

Onboarding is a crucial part of the recruitment process but it is so often forgotten about or done badly. The result? Your new employee takes longer to get up to speed or leaves disengaged and frustrated.

By establishing an onboarding programme, you can help new employees learn about your company culture and the expectations of their new role. This can save you time and money in the long run by ensuring that new employees are productive from day one.

Develop an in-house training program.

Working with an outside company to train your construction workers can be expensive. Instead, develop an in-house training program. This will likely require an initial investment of time and money to get off the ground, but it will save you money in the long run. Additionally, you'll have more control over the quality of the training your workers receive.

Utilise online resources.

There are a number of online resources that can be used to train construction workers at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. For example, many trade organisations offer online courses that cover a wide range of topics related to construction. These courses are often very affordable and can be completed at the worker's convenience.

It is also now possible to provide site-based training from the office with the use of XR technology from companies such as Expand Reality. By providing practical training from the safety of an office or studio, means workers get up to speed quickly and without any risk to their own or colleagues' health.

In conclusion, the cost of recruiting and training new construction workers can be quite high, but there are ways to save on these costs. By being selective in your hiring, utilising social media platforms, offering referral bonuses, and investing in employee retention, you can reduce the cost of recruiting and training while still maintaining a high-quality workforce.

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