Fit? Experience? What About an Employee’s “Add”?

In our industry, the demand for talent has never been greater. The construction industry has new builds and projects constantly popping up nationwide, which is great for developers and builders alike. However, moving at the speed of light also requires a strong subcontractor labor force to support such growth, which has left many exhausted in the hunt for laborers.

With more than 15 years working in the construction industry, serving in several HR leadership roles, Brittany Bainum, founder of Tradeworthy Jobs talks with The Contractor’s Compass about the rapidly-growing need for talent, what to keep in mind when interviewing candidates - and what to do once they are hired.

What’s more critical when it comes to filling roles in your organization: hiring for experience or hiring based on if the candidate will be a good internal culture fit?

We hear this often – “I need experience for this role – we need someone to hit the ground running.” It makes sense; the construction industry often runs at a breakneck pace. Having a father who ran his own commercial, interior contracting business, I would often hear from him that someone “always needed it...yesterday!”

But oftentimes, hiring based only on experience might result in faster turnover. Finding a mix of both culture fit (or culture add) and experience, generally proves to be the most effective long term. So - how do you find people that will 'fit’ well within your culture? It all starts with the interview.

We hear the term “culture fit” used a lot during the interview process. Why should employers consider culture fit when hiring?

Culture fit is a word used a lot in the HR function - regardless of the industry. How well will an employee “fit” in the organization's culture? While culture fit is important, I generally prefer using the term culture add. To me, the word “fit” gives a vibe that we are trying to conform (or fit) employees into the organization's mold. Add on the other hand suggests that all employees bring something different and unique to the table. The more diverse the workforce, the better. Without a doubt, culture add is incredibly important when interviewing potential employees.

So with the high costs associated with turnover, maybe a mix of experience and culture add would prove most valuable in the long run? So how do you find people that will add to your culture?

Yes - I’ve typically seen that a good mix when hiring a candidate is a mix of previous experience and culture add - or what they can bring to the team. The experience is straight forward -- but how do you arrive at what a potential employee can add to the team? Simply put, ask interview questions related to your values by asking for an opposite example.

For example…say one of your organization's core values is safety. A potential interview question could be, “tell me about a time when you were unsafe on the job.” A possible answer could be: “Safety is incredibly important to me. I have a family and I work really hard for them. I won’t put my own safety FEATURE Fit? Experience? What About an Employee’s “Add”? by Brittany Bainum, Founder, Tradeworthy Jobs THE CONTRACTOR’S COMPASS M A RCH 2020 25 on the line for any job.” Great answer – that aligns perfectly with your core value of safety. Another answer could sound something like, “I feel like safety is talked about at my work to just check the box. It’s not something that we stress, so I don’t know the rules very well or find them important.” Most likely that’s not someone who is going to work out well in your organization.

What are some potential other questions you can pose during the interview?

Another great question is: “Who do you find most difficult to work with? Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone like that and how you handled it.” This provides insight into how you handle conflict, and if I know my workforce well, I can do my best to place you with someone you’ll work best with; or possibly not bring them on at all?

Once the employee is hired and in the door, what’s next?

Without a doubt, construction firms are shelling out significant time, money and resources to recruit the best talent into the company. How can they ensure their employees are being leveraged to their full capacity? What are we doing to keep our employees engaged? What are we doing to empower them to make decisions and learn and grow? The second an employee doesn’t feel engaged they will likely begin searching for other jobs. And with how in-demand laborers are, we can’t afford to lose our good, hardworking talent. We spend a lot of time in the industry recruiting - but what we often aren’t putting as much emphasis on is RETENTION.

Once an employee is in the door, it is critical we shift the narrative and focus on retaining them. The best brand ambassadors are your own employees. But, without feeling valued or a sense of loyalty from their leadership, those employees will not reciprocate the loyalty in return and will leave the moment a better offer presents itself.

What are some easy, cost-effective ways to keep employees engaged - keeping retention top-of-mind?

Easy and low-cost methods can go a long way in showing employee appreciation. Those include tactics like:

  • Serve breakfast. Rather than tossing a box of donuts on the table, serve breakfast to members of the team. Rally members of the sales, management, or leadership teams to literally stand behind the table and serve a warm breakfast. This simple tactic ensures personal connection, gives the team a chance to meet, and without a doubt is more meaningful than a nameless box of pastries on the counter.
  • Implement award programs. Employee awards go a long way when it comes to internal recognition. Employee awards can come in two forms - peer-to-peer recognition and awards given from the top down (leadership to employee). One thing to keep in mind, if you are rolling out a peer-to-peer recognition program, it’s important to make it easy to nominate co-workers - if the process is complex or daunting, you likely won’t have repeat employees nominating team members again. Aligning awards to company values is also ideal. Remember, our interview question based on safety values? Awards based on safety measures would also provide symmetry within the organization.
  • Install ride alongs. One of the best ways to get members of your sales team actively engaged is by bringing them along on an install day and putting them to work on occasion. Not only does this build a sense of camaraderie, but it also keeps the leadership visible with the field employees. Visibility and transparency are two of the most important qualities a leader can possess.

Last year you launched a new app called Tradeworthy Jobs dedicated to connecting construction employers directly to potential employees. It’s certainly a new tool and approach for the construction industry. What does the app provide its users?

Tradeworthy Jobs’ goal is to serve both construction employers - and potential construction employees - and get to the future faster. Born out of frustration with current recruiting methods and tools, Tradeworthy Jobs directly connects employers with construction candidates - truly adapting to the users' needs. As construction firms create positions, our job is to serve them to the masses. The Tradeworthy Job app also allows employers to build a comprehensive company profile, allows candidates to message employers directly and gives candidates the ability to build their own profile with their experience (almost like a LinkedIn profile for construction candidates).

With more than 15 years in the construction industry serving in a variety of HR leadership roles, and a rooted understanding of the challenges connecting construction employers to potential employees, Brittany launched Tradeworthy Jobs - an app and web-based platform dedicated to bridging that gap because of construction employers and candidates. Brittany earned her undergraduate and MBA degrees from Capital University, where she also played on the varsity volleyball team. Active in her central Ohio community, Brittany is married to Jason and has three amazing children, Ellie, Hali, and Brock.

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