God never stopped creating “good employees.” Our country already is filled with millions of damn good craftsmen and diligent managers, and there are thousands more being born every day. We also have an influx of super-energetic immigrants coming here to get their share of the Great American Dream. So where are they all?

With today’s skilled labor shortage and America’s extremely low unemployment rate, there are very, very few “good” employees looking for a job. But in your work area and in every town throughout the entire United States, there are hundreds of “damned good” employee looking for a better job!

Ask yourself, “What should I do to provide the better job.” Naturally your second question would be, “If we do provide that better job how could we let any of those ‘good employees’ know about it?”

Let’s take the second question first since it is very easy to answer. Your ambassadors (existing employees) will spread the word to all of their relatives, friends and associates. When they are out there bragging about the opportunities that you offer, as well as the way you are training them, there will be a line of applicants waiting at your door. Some of you may remember that quote from the movie, “Field Of Dreams” — “If you build it, they will come.”

Now we can help you with that big question — how to provide that better job that will attract some of those “good guys” to your company:

1. Who is your best service tech? What makes him No. 1? Do you use a realistic measure and established goals? Are you keeping score to let each employee know where they stand? Is your No. 1 treated better and paid more than their peers? Do all of your other employees share your opinion and respect that “shining star?” Each of you needs to ask yourself those very same questions about every position in your company. Who is the No. 1 estimator, project manager, purchasing agent, accountant, administrative assistant, etc.? You need to clarify who is No. 1 in each category, what it takes to be No. 1, and what it means to all of your good employees to be in that No. 1 position. They care and so do their good friends and relatives. Anyone who can be No. 1 wants that opportunity.

2. Promote from within. If you have heard me speak at a convention or seminar you know I relate your position of building a successful construction team to that of a high school football coach. Every position is offered to every player on that team. Any player who desires to be the quarterback, punter, linebacker or any other position is not tested to see if they can do it. They are trained for that position. During this training they find out (and so does the coach) that they are first–, second– or third–string or not capable of fulfilling that position. This eliminates any jealousy or resentment and creates that ever so critical respect for all those “first stringers” who have earned their position.

3. You must surely realize how many of today’s construction employees would consider that working for a company that follows that basic coaching philosophy would definitely be a better job. (Especially all of the good employees).

4. Offer flex-time work schedule to every employee on your jobsites and your entire management team and office staff. Today’s motto, which I personally agree with and promote, is “Make a Good Life, Not Just a Living.”

The only thing better than a three–day weekend is a four–day weekend. We will look at some of these innovative schedules that your competitors are now offering. I first want to stress that word “offer.” Do not arbitrarily change your employee’s work hours. When you offer them the flex-time options, they can pick whatever work hours that will best with their personal “good life” and still meet your company’s needs. You can bet that they will definitely prove that it will work along with bragging to their fiends about having one of those better jobs.

Naturally you will need lights and tents to get away from those dinosaurs 5–8 hour construction jobsite workdays. Whatever these items may cost is easily offset by the cost-savings of travel, mobilization, coffee breaks, jobsite efficiency and morale. Pre-fab workers in your shop and your office staff have no problems working any hour of the day or any day of the week. Let’s look at some innovative schedules that today’s better jobs offer:

  • The most popular is the three–day weekend with four 10 hour workdays. Although some companies do not work Fridays, you can easily provide your customers with a five– or even six–day work week by alternating crews with a Sunday, Monday and Tuesday weekend.
  • My personal preference is the four–day weekend. Your service techs or field crews can work three 13s on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then have a second tech or second jobsite crew work Thursday, Friday and Saturday. That provides a fantastic profitable work situation for the company, as well as that good life for all of those employees.

You can also use those three 13 hour workdays to provide 26 weeks vacation with a full paycheck to travelers. You simply allow one crew to work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to get in their full week with their pay period ending Wednesday night. They stay Thursday, Friday and Saturday to complete with second week’s work in that same calendar week. You next crew comes Sunday to repeat that schedule and allow the other crew one full week at home for that good life. You will also get two weeks work done on the jobsite each week and two weeks work for one travel expense.

  • You can also shift the hours of day or night to accommodate child care, little league or other sports events, fishing or hunting or simply to miss rush hour traffic.

In addition to providing that attractive better job, you can easily see the benefits for your company with flex time. You also will open the door for part-timers and moonlighters to economically keep you ahead of schedule with all of your work commitments.

If you seriously want to attract those “good guys” you can take the time to read back through this article and jot down exactly what you would need to change to provide that better job. You can then use my “cost vs. results” reasoning to determine what is best for your individual situation. Be sure to include the value of those bragging ambassadors.

Next month we will look at more of those better job basics that will make all of your competitors wonder, “Where have all the good guys gone?”