Construction firms need strategy to retain skilled staff

shortages in the construction industry are threatening to stifle the sector’s
growth, according to research.

Seventy per cent of respondents to the survey of more than 600 UK-based construction
companies say retaining and motivating staff is one of their top three

Furthermore, the industry does not have a clear and consistent strategy for
dealing with the problem, claims the research.

Better communication, leadership, pay and training are all highlighted as
possible solutions by the survey’s respondents.

The inability of construction companies’ managers to attract effective
employees is identified as the biggest barrier to growth.

Many firms are now working at full capacity and cannot bid for new work as
they lack sufficiently skilled staff to service contracts.

Kathryn Hiddleston, construction specialist at business and financial
consultancy firm Grant Thornton, warned construction companies that there is no
quick fix. She said, "Recruitment is a competitive business and designing
the right package is crucial to attracting high-calibre personnel.

"To do this, the construction industry will need to radically
restructure its entire personnel function, with systems ranging from job
descriptions through to appraisals, training, career paths and employee
incentives. All of these require serious rethinking."

The research also shows that nearly half of respondents, 47 per cent, said
red tape and government labour legislation designed to protect employee rights
is a major concern.

Health and safety legislation, the Working Time directive and the Data
Protection Act are all listed as problematic regulations.

Succession planning is also a problem in construction, with one in five
respondents admitting to having problems in securing the next generation of

The survey, carried out by Contract Journal magazine, questioned more than
600 UK-based construction companies with a combined turnover of £30bn.

By Paul Nelson

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