For the first time in its 15-year history, the focus of Denver-based FMI Corp.'s annual analysis of construction firm training practices was broadened to include all aspects of talent development, such as recruitment, retention, performance management, succession planning, and retirement concerns. In response to the declining workforce for the rapidly growing industry, the report discusses the challenges companies face in the “ongoing war for talent” and the necessary strategies for building and sustaining loyalty and commitment in employees. “We really wanted to look at recruitment and retention issues,” says Kelley Chisholm, FMI talent development consultant and survey author. “What are firms doing when they're losing people to retirement?”

According to FMI's data collected from more than 50 construction company executives — 7% from electrical firms — construction firm staffing is expected to take a big hit in the next 10 years, with respondents predicting a 34% loss of top executives, 24% of senior managers, 21% of project managers, and 28% of field managers. All is not lost, however, if firms are willing to get creative and look beyond the traditional means of recruitment and career development by using alternative methods.

According to the report, companies that work with seniors to retain their experience and knowledge will have a distinct advantage over those that don't. Yet, less than half the respondents report that their firms offer part-time, temporary consulting, or contracting work to potential retirees. Even fewer — 16% — offer phased retirement plans. In fact, many firms still offer early retirement incentives.

These firms can take a lesson from the report's list of talent development practices. Third on the list, coaching is a highly effective method of helping employees expand existing skills or gain new ones, as well as ensuring that the critical skills and knowledge of their soon-to-be retirees is being captured and passed along to younger staff.

“With the right coaches in place, employees are motivated to achieve their best,” says the report. “And management can focus on performance metrics such as profit, productivity, and customer satisfaction by building a successful business based on the strengths of its people.”

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