As the news in the construction and infrastructure industries continues its rollercoaster ride, one factor remains steady – the skills shortage. Statistics from October 2021 put the number of vacancies above 40 000, the highest in years, and indications are that it’s only getting worse.

This is a challenge for main contractors that are already battling inflation and materials shortages. But unlike these other factors that are beyond their control, finding and retaining skilled employees is something companies can get right. It comes down to setting the right priorities and understanding what candidates consider important.

1 – Focus on outcomes over hours

As we navigated the challenges of the pandemic, employees proved that it’s not where, how or how long you work that matters, it’s what’s delivered. Many managers initially struggled with remote working, feeling that they had lost a level of control over their team. But as time went by, they realised that what their team needed was support rather than intense management. Today’s candidates expect to be trusted that they will deliver the outcomes assigned to them without being micro-managed. Companies that embrace this as part of their culture will attract the best candidates and have the best chance of retaining them.

2 – Invest and empower  

Hiring is often viewed as a cost, a better approach is to view it as an investment tied to the value a candidate brings to a company. This change of mindset is the start of shaping a more outcomes driven, values based approach to working which makes employees a partner in the company’s success. When employees are empowered, they tend to invest more of themselves and this translates into a winning formula.

3 – Personalise perks

While most candidates are looking for flexible working arrangements with a combination of remote and office work, each individual has unique needs and preferences. Saying a company allows hybrid working isn’t enough, it needs to work for the specific individual. Working parents with small children will have different needs from an older professional whose children have already left home. They may both want flexibility, but for different reasons. Taking the time to understand those reasons and then formulating a policy based on that, communicates that employees are valued. It’s a powerful draw card in the workplace.

The definition of work has changed, companies that want to attract top professionals need to approach hiring differently.