The Benefits of Robust Onboarding for Construction Companies

Searching for qualified candidates can prove difficult — which makes retention of good employees even more important. Fortunately, a strong onboarding program for new employees can help.

While small to midsize construction companies might maintain a basic onboarding program, the practice is not traditionally emphasized. This is a concern in the construction field, since many workers are recent trade school graduates who transition right into an employment opportunity.

Consequently, they may show up on day one and begin working their jobs without meeting owners, managers and co-workers beyond their direct supervisor. Oftentimes, the necessary paperwork doesn’t get filled out until later in the day (sometimes even days afterward). They aren’t given an adequate introduction to the company and its scope of work, policies, procedures and mandates. They may not even know where to report to each day, how they record their time, or even who will be their supervisor.

A robust onboarding program helps prepare your new hires for success. Done correctly, it sets expectations of work performance, provides the employee with knowledge of how your business operates, and gives the employee a snapshot of the “rules of the road” so they will know how they are expected to act and work. This helps prevent situations that could lead to miscommunication, inefficiencies, inappropriate behavior and even workplace accidents.

When a construction firm has formal onboarding procedures, they also help in protecting themselves from costly (and potentially illegal) errors.  Missing federal or state required documentation, not correctly verifying an employee’s ability to work legally in a timely fashion, and not entering an employee correctly in your payroll or HRIS system could all lead to various negative outcomes. A well mapped onboarding plan reduces the chances for those errors.

But most importantly, it sets the tone for the employee experience and quickly teaches the new hire your culture. If new employees feel welcome and truly part of the team during their onboarding time, they’ll gain a sense that they’re part of something larger than just working a job and earning a paycheck. They quickly develop a sense of community — and that drives a connection to your firm.

So what are some must-haves in a robust construction company onboarding program?

Cover compliance. This includes company mandates (e.g., smoking policy, uniform requirements, hours of operation, vehicle policies and more), as well as required disclosures and other critical information new employees need to know on day one.

Every construction company should have an employee handbook detailing everything your employees need to know about working there. If you don’t have one, or you feel your current handbook is lacking, we recommend consulting with experienced human resources professionals.

Review their role. Clarify the expectations of the new employee. Review the actual job role and how it is important to the organization. Ensure they fully understand what your organization does and how they do it. Again, many new hires in the construction field come directly from trade schools, high schools or the general labor pool. So they may not be familiar with your company and its scope of operations. Discuss the goals and vision of the firm, and talk about the new employee’s career goals too.

Match up with a mentor. Connection is key. New employees thrive when they have a colleague or mentor they can learn from in their work environment. This helps them gain valuable confidence about the requirements of their job when they begin.

Review the resources. This includes giving them a specific address for the site at which they’re needed and having someone from the company there when they arrive. Ensure they have the appropriate gear, from tools and PPE to uniforms. Have everything accessible and ready to go.

Follow up frequently. This is not a one-and-done process. A thorough onboarding process can even go beyond the initial 90 days. Make sure the management team is checking in with new members of the team to gain regular feedback about the new employee’s experience.

A comprehensive onboarding process is a big key to keeping your employees engaged — which makes them more likely to stay. Given the tight labor market these days, that’s critical to your company’s continued success!


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