Keeping Summer Workers for the Long-Haul

The summer months in the skilled trades are busy. As an HR professional, you're looking at a lot of moving parts (and probably a lot of moving workers). For locations that are particularly heavy on seasonal environment, the summer months can mean a lot of transitional employees.

This creates both opportunity and logistical challenges. Here are some ways to help make your high-quality summer-time workers more of a long-term relationship.

Young Workers

Millennials have been the often-targeted group for recruiters and HR to talk about, but in 2019, the median age of a Millennial is 30 years old. That means your real target for the next generation of skilled workers is the Gen Z-ers.

About Gen Z

Pew Research begins the Gen Z birth time from 1996 to the present. These are young people who:

  • Weren't alive or have no memory of 9/11
  • Grew up with America's first black president
  • Are mobile-tech natives - the oldest Gen Z-ers were 10 when the first iPhone came out
  • Grew up in economically insecure times (the Great Recession), and they are wary of debt
  • As a whole, are on track to be the most educated generation ever

Hooking Summer Workers for the Long Haul

Young people signing on for skilled labor industries over their summer breaks is basically an American tradition, and as more and more older workers retire from the industry, it’s critical that the new generation feels it has a reason to enter the field. When it comes to recruiting, we’ve got four epic strategies for recruiting young people.

Here are some tips to keep young Gen Z workers in the skilled trades:

  • Welcome Diversity: Women, veterans and racial diversity are the future of the skilled trades. Gen Z is not only the most diverse generation in American history, it’s also more likely than other generations to say diversity is good for society, according to Pew.
  • Show Them the Money in the Trades: Skilled trades seem to have an unfair bias against it in our culture, but the truth is there are lucrative jobs and potential, especially for the younger, tech-friendly workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average manufacturing worker earned more than $27 per hour, not including benefits, and the median pay according to Google for electricians ($51,880), lineworkers ($61,430) and plumbers ($50,620) put workers solidly in the middle class.
  • Talk about Job Security: The skilled trades aren’t going anywhere. According to an Associated General Contractor 2019 report, 78% of contractors are having a hard time filling position for salaried and hourly craft roles, and 79% of firms plan to increase staffs in 2019.

Attract, Hire and Retain in Construction

Make the Commitment

Young workers who are interested in the trades may not have the information they need about a career in the field. That can mean a lack of confidence about joining a team or an unclear path toward full employment. Here are some ways to bring young employees into the fold:

  • Develop Apprenticeships: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, effective apprenticeship program produce a 150% ROI for employers.
  • Make Onboarding Count: Young workers want to feel they’re working in a forward-thinking company; make sure your onboarding process is mobile-friendly and straight-up easy to use.
  • Focus on Career Development: Forty-eight percent of HR professionals say training existing employees is the most effective recruiting strategy for hard-to-fill positions, according to a SHRM study. For Gen Z, who take a pragmatic approach to money and careers, professional development is a major incentive.
  • Great Benefits: The 2018 SHRM Benefits Survey showed 92% of employees say benefits are important to their job satisfaction, and in a competitive job market, luring recruits in with premier benefits is a solid strategy. Here’s how to create a competitive employee benefits package.

Seasonal Workers

Another source of busy-season workers are the seasonal set. Whether they migrate for the work season or are on summer break from other jobs, these workers aren’t likely to be year-round employees. Regardless, well-trained team members who have a track record of getting the job done are a hot commodity. Here are a few ways to keep them engaged in the off-season and increase the likelihood they’ll return when the temperatures heat back up:

  • Stay Organized: Get their contact information and store it safely in your Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP), perhaps flagging them for a reach-out in early spring.
  • Create an Employee Referral Program: This not only reiterates your trust in them as employees, but also is likely to pull in some quality new hires; referred employees have shown a higher retention rate than those who join through career sites. Start your employee referral program with a free checklist.
  • Keep Them Up to Date: Stay in touch about upcoming projects and start dates, and reach out to them to confirm they’re returning.

The competition for great employees touches every industry, but with the shifting demographics in the skilled trades - generational, rural vs urban, and even problem-solving skills - it's more important than ever to lean hard on your high-potential employees. Lay the foundation for future interest, and you're more likely to skirt the ongoing skilled labor worker shortage. To see how your HR department is positioned to take on high-stakes recruiting, set up a free HR assessment today.

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