Attract, Recruit, Retain Construction Leaders

RT-200 Topic Summary
RT 200


The engineering and construction industry is failing to recruit and retain young professionals, and the problem is expected to worsen unless action is taken. Much research has been performed in recruiting and maintaining the skilled workforce, yet recruiting and retaining leaders has not been duly addressed. This research focuses on leadership instead of skilled labor, and has concluded that solutions are available through specific benefits, programs, and incentives.

RT-200 provided a list of suggested solutions and also included a self-assessment for companies to review their recruiting and retaining efforts. The research team looked to other industries for initiatives, including the healthcare and information technology (IT) industries, as they have been more effective in removing key barriers that are causing young talented professionals to turn away from those industries. The construction industry must meet the needs of this generation's workforce, which is focused on individuality and ambition.

The construction industry’s future will greatly depend upon its ability to recruit and retain young, talented professionals. To achieve success, it is clear that the industry must provide not only competitive compensation, but also excellent career opportunities for a wide variety of prospects – talented young people, many of whom are strikingly different from the industry’s traditional talent pool and who may well turn away from the field if major changes are not made soon.

One huge challenge for employers will be creating an “image” for their companies that targets the best talent and creates an environment where employees maintain motivation and are committed to the company’s future.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Key Traits

Discovered key traits of the young workforce/future manager age group, including the following significant findings: (RS200-1, p. 6)

  • 58% of those interviewed place "extremely high value" on the image of the company they work for.   
  • 26% of respondents expect to change companies five or more times in order to advance their career.
  • The younger employees were significantly more likely to relocate to another part of the U.S. for work, while those nearing retirement age and the newest to the workforce were most likely to be willing to temporarily relocate for work.

Reference: (RS200-1)

2 : Company Culture

Top management is the primary influence on the company's culture, including the mission and objectives, plus how that culture evolves. Executives influence the company more by what they do than what they say. The corporate culture may be the most important factor in the ability to recruit and maintain its young leaders. The culture not only impacts the individual employee's perception of their career, but also heavily impacts their job satisfaction and performance. Dissatisfaction with culture leads to disgruntled employees who leave for a better cultural fit. (RS200-1, p. 22)
Reference: (RS200-1)

3 : Career Selection and Satisfaction

Young professionals in the E&C industry are attracted to "Variety of Work" and "Pay," in that order. Interestingly, ages 19-24 are most attracted to variety, while ages 25+ are most attracted to pay. (RS200-1, p. 14)

  • Key reasons that indicate a high level of personal career satisfaction:
    • Seeing a job through completion, on schedule and budget 
    • Recognition 
    • Working with co-workers 
    • Satisfying the client 
    • Problem solving 
  • Key reasons driving career dissatisfaction stems from the following areas:
    • Not being recognized for a job well done 
    • Project behind schedule, over budget, or failing for another reason 
    • Job security due to cyclical nature of industry 
    • No defined career path 
    • Lack of leadership and communication with management 
    • Time commitments 
    • Relocation 
    • Repetitive tasks
  • Most important action their company could take to advance career satisfaction:
    • Competitive compensation and benefits 
    • Better career path definition 
    • Continual training and education 
    • Increased mentoring 
    • More job recognition 
    • Challenging environment 
    • Better communication throughout the organization 
Reference: (RS200-1)

4 : Career Objectives

Young professionals have a much more aggressive career expectation than older generations. They indicate a desire for fast upward mobility within five years, expecting to reach “project management” within that time frame and reach upper management within 10 years. (RS200-1, p. 16)
Reference: (RS200-1)

5 : Reward and Recognition

Young professionals expect to receive recognition for their achievements and share financially in the company’s success. They expect to be promoted within an 18-month timeframe, and have preferences for strong benefit programs. (RS200-1, p. 18)

Reference: (RS200-1)

6 : Company Image

The importance of seeing your company as a great place to work cannot be emphasized enough. The majority of respondents place a very high value on their company’s commitment to providing an excellent work environment, and primary factors for a favorable rating include:  (RS200-1, p. 19)
  1. Career advancement opportunities 
  2. Compensation and company benefits 
  3. Great working environment 
  4. Co-workers 
  5. Flexible work options 
  6. Strong leadership 
  7. Job stability
Reference: (RS200-1)

7 : Implementation Tool #1

IR200-2, The Future Starts Now: Recommendations for Recruiting and Retaining Future Engineering and Construction Leaders

Provides guidelines for the top factors that influence the success of recruiting and retaining of young professionals.

  1. Total compensation package
  2. Career path and projects
  3. Training
  4. Mentoring
  5. Recognition
  6. Quality leadership
  7. Company image/culture
  8. Technology
Reference: (IR200-2)

8 : Implementation Tool #2

IR200-3, Recruiting and Retaining: Company Self-Assessment

Provides a self-assessment checklist to help organizations evaluate their current status in recruiting and retaining future engineering and construction leaders.
Reference: (IR200-3)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved performance/achieved success, Improved recruiting, Improved retention

Research Publications

Attracting, Recruiting, and Retaining Top Quality Construction Leaders/Managers - RR200-11

Publication Date: 05/2005 Type: Research Report Pages: 104 Status: Reference

Recruiting and Retaining: Company Self-Assessment - IR200-3

Publication Date: 06/2004 Type: Implementation Resource Pages: 4 Status: Tool

The Future Starts Now: Recommendations for Recruiting and Retaining Future Engineering and Construct - IR200-2

Publication Date: 06/2004 Type: Implementation Resource Pages: 6 Status: Tool

Recruiting and Retaining Future Engineering and Construction Leaders - RS200-1

Publication Date: 06/2004 Type: Research Summary Pages: 26 Status: Supporting Product

Presentations from CII Events

Implementation Session - Recruit and Attract Future E&C Leaders

Publication Date: 06/2004 Presenter: Number of Slides: 21 Event Code: AC04