President's Message - Jun '23

President's Message,
The roundtables at Conference are always a source of inspiration and great advice. I would like to share a few ideas I heard at this past conference as they may be worthwhile to you.
I have grouped these thoughts under the general heading of Recruiting / Retaining – so if you have an issue with finding and keeping skilled craftsmen – read on.
A somewhat novel idea is to let your field people have a say about who you hire and/or keep. At face value this sounds pretty basic and I’m sure most are thinking “we do that”, but do you really? Don’t we all have that one guy who drives everyone else crazy but we keep for some reason: maybe he’s your nephew or the only one who knows how to do X. Whatever it is, there is truth to the saying 'one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch'. His bad attitude tells everyone else it’s OK; you turning a blind eye to his antics affects morale and may drive some to look elsewhere.
Alternately with new people, as a hiring manager sometimes I am so frustrated I will take anything with a pulse. But if my people don’t understand the amount of time invested to get that warm body, they just think I make lousy hiring decisions. When they are involved in the process, they have more of a commitment to his success.
It goes without saying, but do make sure you are offering a robust benefits package. Gone are the days when you needed to join a union to get benefits. Now all reputable companies offer benefits. Take time to make sure your pay rates and benefits are competitive for your area. One MBCEA member shared that he provides a $50K life insurance policy for all workers. This is relatively inexpensive per man but may provide peace of mind at home or cause someone to think twice about leaving.
Another no-brainer is to make sure they have good tools, good equipment and good clothes. You want your crews to wear your brand with pride, to have a swagger in their step when they enter a jobsite. Frustrations over faulty equipment and broken tools may cause your better workers to give up and certainly will do nothing to inspire new workers to stay.
Don’t forget the power of cash incentives. Variations on this theme include:
  • Pay your workers or an assigned buddy to mentor the new guy. If the new guy stays safe and remains with the company the mentor gets a cash bonus.
  • Offer new hires a cash bonus for staying 60 days and again at 6 months.
  • Referral fees and “bring a friend” program.
The ideas above are all associated with the job, but don’t underestimate the power of company culture. A simple Annual Play Day where you and your entire team spend time away from the job, e.g. Top Golf, Go-Kart Racing, etc. can go a long way to create bonds and instill commitment. 
Another way to foster company culture: bring your workers to events like the MBCEA National Conference or Chapter events so they can get involved, learn from their peers and to instill pride. Consider the photo you may have seen in the May newsletter, when we posted that Bryan Turner had won the Builders' game. Look at the pride and joy on those faces; notice they are all wearing TBT-branded clothes. There is a true sense of camaraderie and esprit de corp. Notice they are standing with the Senior VP of their manufacturer, BlueScope's Greg Pasley. Priceless!
Speaking of Conference, next year we will be in San Diego on April 24-26. This event is styled as a Management Retreat. In 2025, we return to a field focus. 
Lastly, I would like to recognize BlueScope and Chief who have both responded with financial pledges to support the new MBI/NCCER curriculum. These companies are true visionaries that understand our industry’s future depends on attracting and training new craft professionals, increased safety on our job sites and the integrity of our builds.
If you share this commitment to our future, contact us.
Jen Heimburger
President, MBCEA
President, Heimburger Construction, Inc.