How to hire and keep the right people

In this article, we’re focused on hiring.

Almost all of our clients tell us it’s hard. Whether it’s unskilled labor, project managers, estimators, supervisors or executives—they’re all hard to find, and increasingly hard to keep.

The reality is that hiring and retention aren’t getting easier anytime soon:

  • Declining birth rates & rising life expectancy mean that the share of the US population that is working age will continue going down – meaning more competition for fewer workers.
  • The construction industry needs more than 500,000 workers in addition to the normal pace of hiring in 2023 alone.
  • To get a pay increase, younger workers would rather change jobs than stay and ask or hope for a raise.


Hiring and retention issues are often addressed as part of an overall strategic planning process. 

There are a few specific best practices that we’ve seen help with hiring and/or retention:

  1. Implement a standardized hiring process. At HORNE, we use Motivation Based Interviewing (and we train others on how to use it) because it does a great job of filtering for high performers. But almost any process is better than none. Standardization also makes it easier to delegate!
  2. Update your org chart, job descriptions, and role competencies. This can help you recruit ahead of where you are now, and give current team members a clearer career path—which is critical to retain high performers: they want to know there’s growth potential.
  3. Create a positive onboarding experience. Have you ever shown up to a new job and been left to just figure it out? Make a positive impression from the moment they accept (before they actually start!) with organized information, a dedicated guide, and a pre-planned first week.
  4. Hire 90 days ahead of where you are now. Always be recruiting! Develop a bench strength of potential candidates so you can reach out when you need them.
  5. Train your managers. There’s research that shows employees are more likely to quit because of bad managers than for higher pay. Start with basic reading assignments like How to Win Friends and Influence People, or The One-Minute Manager. Discuss a chapter a week and talk about what a “good leader” is in your company’s context. It can make a huge difference.

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