Over the past five years (or longer!), survey after survey has found that one of the top issues facing those of us in the home improvement sector is a lack of skilled labor. This shortage is widespread. In 2021, a study found that an astounding 91% of contractors report moderate to high levels of difficulty finding skilled labor, with 62% of contractors reporting high levels of difficulty finding skilled workers. Whether you do roofing, flooring, painting, HVAC, solar, or any other specialty, you have likely felt the pain.
What can you do to find (and keep!) quality employees?
- Take a close look at your pay. I know, I know. This isn’t necessarily the answer you want to hear. The truth is, though, that it is super important that you are paying a fair wage. You have to give people the ability to earn enough to stay. This means a healthy wage and the ability to increase that pay through hard work. If you don’t pay your employees a competitive wage compared to other companies in your area, the good ones will quickly leave you behind. They’ll either be working for the competition or striking out on their own. Do a little research into wages in your area and make sure you are offering slightly more than average or that you offer additional perks (see below!) to offset the pay.
- Consider offering health insurance. Did you know that employees in the construction/home improvement industry have the lowest rate of health insurance compared to all industries except agriculture? Ouch. Yes, offering health insurance can raise some of your costs, but it also can really set you apart as an employer. This is true even for 1099 employees. Yep, you can offer them health insurance as well.
- Look into your network. Sometimes the perfect workers are right in front of your face and you don’t even realize! I heard a friend recently joke that he “grows his own employees” by hiring his children. And while I’m definitely not suggesting that you have 13 children just to fill your open job positions, his joke actually has merit. Often you have friends, family, or acquaintances that might be just perfect for your company. That brings me to our next point…
- Look for work ethic, not just skills. It would be amazing if you could find a crazy hard worker who also is skilled and responsible. Unfortunately, this can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Experienced companies recommend looking for people who show a hard work ethic first. You can teach the skills, but work ethic is not something that can be taught. Dedicate a little time and effort into teaching a hard worker some new skills and it can pay off big time in the long run.
- Offer flexibility. A great way to create a sense of loyalty in your employees is by being flexible. Many workers, especially younger ones, really enjoy having some flexibility in their work schedule. This may mean being a bit creative. You could consider offering a variety of hours and even try out a four-day work week.
- Examine your processes. One great tip to make sure you've got what it takes to keep employees around is to look at what it is like to work for you. Be brutal. Would YOU want to work for your company in their position? Are they chasing lost leads, dealing with angry homeowners, or feeling confused about expectations? Do you have processes and systems in place to make their lives easier? If, during your examination, you find areas of frustration, make note of them and start making changes now!
While finding and keeping those skilled workers is a challenge for everyone, there are ways you can get the cream of the crop. What have you done to keep employees loyal? We’d love to hear from you!
Hatch works hard to make life easier for home improvement companies through our speed-to-lead and sales follow-up automated communication programs. To learn more about how they can help your home improvement company, download our free ebook now.