How the Top Construction Companies are Beating the Competition and Winning the Best Workers

7 min read

In today’s war for construction workers, it's not enough to follow in the steps of your biggest competitor. Modern construction companies must develop their own unique ways of winning the best candidates and raising the bar.

The US construction market has had its ups and downs (to say the least).

Nothing is typical when it comes to its record of events. And yet the history of the construction industry is grounded in innovation, with human capital placed firmly at the center of progress.

From the engineer to the job site supervisor and concrete workers—it's people that make construction what it is. And in today’s war for talent, it's not enough to follow in the steps of your biggest competitor. Today's construction companies must develop their own unique ways of winning the best candidates and raising the bar.

But it never hurts to have a little inspiration.

So let’s check out the industry's top innovators shaping the future of construction. 🏆

1. Owning up at Bechtel

"Too many companies tell employees they're responsible for safety. An employee's ability to respond [to safety challenges] depends on their education and training, giving them the authority to do what is necessary to work safely, and the resources and equipment they need."Kevin S. Berg, Principal Vice President

Family-controlled construction giant Bechtel is a popular name in the US construction industry. They're the ones responsible for epic projects like the Hoover Dam, the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, Nasa’s 23 story-tower🚀 and so much more.

But apart from their all-star status, one thing that stands out about Bechtel is its commitment to safety. As Kevin S. Berg, the company’s Principal Vice President mentions in an interview for EHS Today, “Many Bechtel projects are outside the United States, where cultures and a lack of resources can present a challenge.”

Berg motivates others to become safety leaders in their own countries by simply stating that, ''We don't have the right to expect some type of injury or human suffering as a result of our doing business."

With a transparent approach to safety, Bechtel is able to win highly-skilled talent for all its global projects. The company now manages seven government services sites across the US that have been recognized for excellence in safety with the government's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star Status—the highest honor for worksite-based safety and health systems.

2. Developing leaders at Hoar Construction

“The more we can grow the staff we have into future leaders in the construction business, the better the industry will be and the better our company will be.”Turner Burton, President

2018 has been a great year for Hoar, an Alabama-based firm close to hitting the $1 billion benchmark in annual revenue.

Even if executives like President Turner Burton believe it's simply the “Hoar Way”,  we know there has to be a little something extra leading to their success. The company's commitment to its people, lean construction practices and integrity are truly above and beyond.

By investing in training programs like construction management, risk management, quality control and safety, Hoar is toppling the competition for skilled workers.

Employees learn cool new tricks such as how to use brick-laying robots and 3D laser scanners to deliver the precision and quality their clients love.

It's a move that recently won Hoard the title of Company of the Year 2018 by Construction Dive and a spot in the top #25 ranking for five consecutive years by the Great Place to Work Institute. Hoar people, we have one word for you: Bravo! 👏

3. Driving success through tech at Prescient Construction

“Over the past six years, we’ve been quietly developing our technology, our 75-patent portfolio across 30 countries [...]. And we’ve only just begun. But we’re not resting on our laurels because the worst thing you can do is become complacent; that’s when the rest of the pack will catch up. We’re staying one step ahead by constantly innovating.”Satyen Patel, Executive Chairman

The construction industry is about hard work and innovation. Still, many firms are using ancient documentation and processes. Not Prescient. 🙅

While many companies adopt new technologies to existing processes, this North Carolina-headquartered startup is reinventing and automating every step , all while staying true to their mission to offer “attainable housing."

And their performance hasn’t gone unnoticed. Prescient won 2018’s Construction Dive Awards' coveted title, ‘Innovator of the Year’.

This is one employer brand that deserves the honor. They kicked-off 2018 with their groundbreaking #WomenInConstruction initiative—a program aimed at encouraging women to succeed in a the male-centric industry.

4. Walking the walk at Turner Construction

“We are dedicated to fostering an environment in which all our people feel heard and valued, and everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”

Karen Sweeney, Senior Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, Community and Citizenship  

Turner Construction, the company that built Madison Square Garden, has been consistently ranking among the top US builders since the 1900s.

What sets this company apart from other industry behemoths is their commitment to sustainable and green building practices. (Case in point: Engineering News-Record has named Turner the top green building contractor for 10 consecutive years.😮)

With a Glassdoor rating of 4.0, Turner employees seem to be digging the experience. “Compared to other jobs my friends got out of college, this one is by far the best in terms of work-life balance as well as work environment," says one anonymous reviewer.

Plus, they care about Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). So much so that in 2017 the company earned a score of 100/100 on the Corporate Equality Index and the award for Best Place to Work for LGBT communities (for the fourth consecutive year!).

While others only pay lip service to modern initiatives like green building and D&I, Turner is clearly one firm that's walking the walk.

5. Making an Impact at Fluor Construction

“This company has provided a gift, if you will, for people who will go and do it. There is hardly a corner of the earth where our footprints haven’t been left.” —David T. Seaton, CEO    

Speaking of big names, Fluor is one of the world's largest engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction and maintenance companies.

The company’s ethical impact is one of the main reasons Fluor is on our list. Despite complex challenges, the company literally turned the lights back on for 250,000 people affected by Hurricane Marina in Puerto Rico.

And when it comes to its employees, Flour believes in building strong careers. At Fluor's Training Center in Texas, students learn various trade skills and can explore the vocation in a hands-on environment.

Their employer brand assets are also incredibly spot-on. The company’s career page looks impeccable and includes attractive elements, such as:

  • Advanced job search tools
  • In-depth info on all types of work Fluor offers
  • Motivational videos from employees who took their training courses
  • Info about Fluor University, where employees have access to more than 200 instructor-led and online courses

Not too shabby, huh?

If you’re not convinced yet, we’ll just leave this here: Flour was named the top engineering and construction company in Fortune’s 2017 World’s Most Admired Companies list for six years in a row.

6. Uniting through mission at Skanska

“My role is to make sure this business is a sustainable business, a business that is growing and getting better and better. So I rationalize decisions from the point that it’s my job to create a sustainable business, not just for shareholders, but for everyone who is working here.”Gregor Craig, UK Chief Executive

The reason we love this Swedish multinational construction and development company is that its based on constructive thinking.

Skansa's vision is backed by “the five zeros” approach:

  1. Zero loss-making projects
  2. Zero work site accidents
  3. Zero environmental incidents
  4. Zero ethical breaches
  5. Zero defects

Skanska is proof that climate-smart innovation is a sign of doing smart business.

In 2017, the company designed Sweden’s first zero-energy neighborhood, Solallén, which generates more energy than it uses while saving both carbon and energy costs. Skanska also built the first certified Living Building, the Bertschi School Science Classroom Addition in Seattle, which runs on zero energy and water.

Word about Skanska's awesome mission got out and the the environmental organization the Carbon Disclosure Project recognized Skanska as a leader in dealing with environmental impacts related to climate change in 2018.

And according to Glassdoor, working at Skanska is pretty rewarding. The reviews speak for themselves: “great company and benefits, interesting and complex projects, great culture, great opportunities and development,” are just some of the many perks employees enjoy while working for this mission-driven company.

7. Making health a priority at Whiting-Turner

“Family environment. Heavily involved VPs. Willing to teach. Understand mistakes are apart of the job. Give credit where it is due. Fast pace. Once in a lifetime opportunities.”—current employee, US

Baltimore-based construction company Whiting-Turner has been in business since 1909. The company boasts a Glassdoor rating of 4.0 and an enviable 97% approval rating for their CEO, Timothy Regan.

For job seekers considering joining the company, we’ve noticed their ace-in-sleeve seems to be in the healthcare: “This is the best insurance I have ever had,” a former employee highlights.

“The benefits here were great. 100% company paid medical insurance. Vacation policy was generous. No set sick policy so I was paid for every day I was out sick,” says another former employee from California.

It gets even better, as Whiting-Turner ranks #62 on America's Largest Private Companies 2018 by Forbes.

8. Thinking long-term at Kiewit

“Our employees build landmark projects that provide [...] reliable transportation and energy infrastructure people depend on, with an unwavering commitment to safety, quality and environmental stewardship.”—John Shaw, Vice President of Human Resources  

The best thing about the talent management strategy at Kiewit is the awesome development opportunities offered up to employees.

At Kiewit University—the company’s own educational facility in Omaha—employees can access top industry experts. And in a sign of appreciation for veteran’s sacrifices, Kiewit provides opportunities, training and support to US ex-military men and women, helping them launch into a new career in the construction and engineering industry.

The company also invests in their female employees by holding the annual Women’s Construction Leadership Seminar focused on helping women break the glass ceiling by developing their leadership skills.

And we're guessing it's a pretty effective program. Last year, Suzanne Motica, Director of Product Management in Kiewit’s Technology Group, was honored as part of Constructech’s 2018 Women in Construction awards.

Looking at the company’s profile on Great Place to Work, 85% of employees agree that yes, Kiewit is indeed a great place to work.

Here are some of their other employee satisfaction stats:

  • 91% of employees feel a sense of pride when they look at what they accomplish
  • 91% are proud to tell others where they work,
  • 90% are able to take time off from work when they think it's necessary and
  • 89% believe management is honest and ethical in its business practices

Kiewit has ranked #285 on America's Best Employers 2018 and #41 on America's Largest Private Companies 2018 lists by Forbes.

Ready to make a change?

It can be tempting to follow in someone else's footsteps, but today's talent is big on transparency. They can easily sniff out the difference between the brands who mean it and those who are merely paying lip service.

Just as the focus of construction should always be on building better communities, the focus for construction hiring should always be about what you can do to provide a better experience for your candidates and employees.

With the vast and varied transformations happening in the construction industry, some of these top-shelf approaches might work for you, others won't. Commit to trying new and improved talent tactics while going the extra mile for your people. Do that, and the right talent will follow.

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