Here’s an important statistic you need to know if you are charged with hiring talent for your construction firm.

In this booming market, a happily employed construction candidate, not actively seeking a new job, being directly recruited to join a new firm, typically expects a 10% to 15% bump in base salary to move.

It’s frustrating how difficult it is to reach anybody these days, either candidates or clients. Construction is booming, people are stressed, super busy, and constantly inundated with communications. Our jobs as recruiters are becoming tougher by the day. There are fewer viable candidates available to be recruited and an ever-increasing pool of clients seeking new hires for their teams. The national unemployment rate in construction is 6.2%, which means fewer people are proactively looking for work and salaries are skyrocketing. Candidates are being swamped by LinkedIn, text, Twitter, email, voicemail, Snapchat, Instagram, Skype, and Facetime just to name just a few.

The pendulum has swung back to a seller’s market, with candidates exhibiting a cockiness not seen since before the recession. On a daily basis, we hear of compensation demands that are outrageous. The problem is that after being incessantly bombarded to “connect,” candidates have come to view their value/importance in an extremely inflated way. It is not unusual to hear a mid-career estimator who is currently earning $90,000 ask for $120,000 to even consider making a move. And that’s before discussing the benefits package!

If it’s this hard for professional recruiters to attract talent, how much more difficult must it be for contractors who try to recruit for themselves? Thankfully, we have relationships with great candidates who are also bird dogs for Construction Recruiters and frequently provide us with a portal to their network.

To reinvent our pool of potential candidates in this marketplace would be extremely difficult.

As the market for talent becomes ever tighter, it’s not the best builders who will survive; rather, the best builders of teams will own the marketplace.

Candidates are striking back after years of no raises and doing the work of three people — these are the people who kept their jobs during the recession and were reminded they were the “lucky ones.” They did more for less and now they want payback. This is where we see the inflated salary requests come into play. If a candidate’s No. 1 reason for joining your company is money, it won’t be long before they leave you for even more money. No matter how desperate you are to make that hire, don’t bend to crazy money demands.

What we do know from talking to thousands of candidates is that the best ones change jobs for life-enhancing opportunities. If you don’t have the time or resources to build a competitive employment package, just look to other industries to see what perks they provide to attract top talent. Keep in mind that Millennials feed on perks that provide appreciation, meaning, and lifestyle enhancements.

The goal of perks is to encourage a certain type of behavior, to show appreciation, and to make your employees’ lives easier. Whether or not you think these are appropriate for our industry, be assured that your more progressive competitors are already beginning to implement some of them:

Values and culture perks:

  • * Lunch with the president day; an opportunity to share new ideas and make a difference.
  • * In-house personal development programs and management training; invest in them and help them grow their careers with you.
  • * In-house promotion quotas.
  • * XX hours of paid volunteer work per year.
  • * Teambuilding events.

Making life easier perks:

  • * Work from home days.
  • * Flexible work hours during summer.
  • * Cafeteria/food benefits; $5 lunch allowance.
  • * On-site daycare option.
  • * Back-up childcare support.
  • * Concierge services — grocery pick-up; laundry pick-up; oil changes and car washes; commuter rail passes.
  • * Unpaid sabbatical leave.
  • * Company-sponsored vans that can be borrowed by city dwellers; for those IKEA runs!

Appreciation perks:

  • * Tuition reimbursement.
  • * Unlimited personal time off.
  • * Paid birthday off.
  • * Gym memberships and personal trainer access.
  • * Discounted tickets to sporting events.
  • * Food truck Fridays.
  • * Bonus for performance achievements.
  • * Paid vacations as incentives.

The list goes on, but the best way to keep your existing staff happy is to simply ask them what they need and then see what you’re willing to support. Your best employees really don’t want to leave, so your job is to keep them happy and productive so we can’t recruit them!

Remember, perks can’t be a tacky sales gimmick to get people in the door; perks are a way to show appreciation to your staff in an authentic way. Regardless of what your competitors offer, do what makes sense for your people, and your business.

Do good work.

Colm