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Upskilling Workers and Career Pathways Increase Worker Retention, Study Finds

Building Talent Foundation announced the main findings of a residential construction workforce engagement study designed to probe into tradespeople’s opinions about their career plans. To improve industry strategies for building talent retention, BTF launched the survey with the support of Leading Builders of America.
The results of the inaugural Homebuilding Workforce Engagement Survey are: 

  • Among tradespeople on residential construction job sites, 42 percent are engaged (“promoters”), 28 percent are not engaged (“detractors”) and 30 percent are neither engaged nor disengaged (“passives”). Therefore, the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), calculated by subtracting detractors from promoters, is 14, the same as the average for all U.S. industries. 
  • Out of all tradespeople working on residential construction job sites, 51 percent are planning to stay in their jobs, 35 percent are thinking about another job and 14 percent are disengaged, but not yet thinking of leaving their job. 
  • Of those thinking of another job, more than half (51 percent) are considering leaving residential construction for other sectors, and more than 1 out of 3 (34 percent) are thinking of leaving construction for opportunities in other industries.  
  • The group most likely to be thinking of another job is those tradespeople with one to five years of experience. By the time they have been trained, invested in, and add real value to employers, over 2 out of 5 (43 percent) of this group are thinking of another job. 

The top reason survey respondents gave for staying in their jobs was that they had opportunities for career advancement, training and learning new skills. The next most cited reason was their boss treating them well and feeling valued and respected at work. On the other hand, a lack of career advancement, training and development was the top reason people wanted to leave their job. Therefore, while compensation does matter, this study reveals it is not the most important factor in employee engagement.
BTF engaged the Oxford Centre for Employee Engagement to conduct the survey to listen, learn and respond to residential construction workers. BTF is developing best practice guidelines to share widely within the industry.
Applying scientific methods, the OCEE research team, led by human resources expert Professor William Scott-Jackson, received and analyzed the results from the talent pool about why they stay in or leave their jobs. A total of 1,462 respondents completed the survey, 61 percent of respondents work on jobsites, and 39 percent are in office/administrative roles. 
Developing strategies to engage skilled workers is crucial, as demonstrated by a Construction Labor Market Report recently published by the HBI. The residential construction industry will need to train and place 2.2 million new workers within the next three years to meet the United States’ housing demands. The Home Builders Institute supported the BTF engagement study by distributing the survey questionnaires to its alumni network. 
“The investment that we are collectively making to attract, train, hire and develop talent in the homebuilding sector must be matched with adequate investment in engaging, upskilling and retaining employees in our industry,” says Branka Minic, CEO of BTF. “Building Talent Foundation is committed to working with all industry stakeholders to develop and implement programs for improving workforce engagement.”
“This survey is a strong warning signal and an opportunity for employers to make sure their people see a clear future for themselves and are well-led. There are well-founded, relatively simple solutions to both these issues (to be outlined in the Final Report) so that even the smallest trades firms can better retain, develop and maximize the value of their people,” says Scott-Jackson.
BTF plans to conduct the survey biannually.