Strategies for attracting & retaining skilled operators
Research shows that a skilled operator can use 10-12% less fuel every day than an unskilled one. In addition to cutting fuel costs, the right operator can also enhance safety, improve productivity and extend component life. That’s probably why when Caterpillar asked a group of heavy construction professionals to identify their biggest source of competitive advantage, more than 30% said skilled operators.
HARD TO FIND, HARD TO KEEP
Because skilled operators can make or break your business, attracting and retaining them is a huge priority. It can also be a huge headache. In a 2013 survey of U.S. construction firms conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), nearly three-quarters of respondents said they struggle to find skilled employees. Equipment operators were cited as one of the hardest positions to fill. Most participants predicted the skilled labor shortage would continue, with nearly 9 out of 10 saying it will “remain difficult” or “get harder” to find workers, and 74% agreeing “there aren’t enough skilled workers to meet future demand.”
686 respondents – building, heavy, highway, and utility construction sectors
THREE STRATEGIES FOR SETTING YOUR FIRM APART
Even employers who pay well and value their people can find it difficult to attract and retain skilled operators. Here are a few strategies to consider:
INVEST IN TRAINING
The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) says training is one of the most effective ways to increase employee loyalty, improve retention and attract top people. It’s also a means to improve productivity and control costs, particularly fuel costs, which can be reduced significantly when a skilled operator is in the cab.
RUN A NEWER FLEET
If you had to choose between working all day in a brand new fuel-efficient machine or gutting out a shift in something built during the Reagan era, what would you do? Most would opt for the more pleasant work environment. It’s just more appealing to operate a product that’s clean, quiet and comfortable. And when it comes to productivity, newer cab features – like good visibility, a quality seat, ergonomic control, great ventilation and easy-to-read displays – can make a big difference in safety and efficiency. So if you’re having a hard time attracting and keeping equipment operators, give some thought to the “office” you’re asking them to work in. Maybe it’s time to upgrade of the units in your fleet.
LURE THEM WITH TECHNOLOGY
Millennials (those reaching adulthood around the year 2000) will make up the majority of the construction workforce by 2018, according to the U.S. Census. The greatest strength of this generation, say many industry leaders, is their comfort with technology. most have never experienced or can’t remember a world without computers. And while few seem interested in earning a living as an equipment operator, it may be possible to change their minds by introducing them to 21st century machine technology – automated control and guidance systems, GPS-based management tools and more.