Business AdvisoryTrades and Construction

5 Tips to Help Retain Your Most Valuable Tradies and Employees

Jeff Broughton Jeffrey Broughton
25 November 2021
4 min read

25 November 2021

The cost of employee turnover is significant to any business, but especially a small trades business. Think recruitment costs, onboarding, training and development and lost productivity. It all adds up.

Attracting skilled workers in the current worker shortage is a challenge facing many industries. Outside of the labour shortage, attracting and retaining tradies and employees in a competitive world where there are multiple opportunities for job seekers is crucial.

[Related: Check out our e-book The Ultimate Guide to attracting and retaining tradies]

To help retain your most valuable tradies and employees, you need to create a culture and employer brand where staff are engaged and motivated.

Here are five tips that will help you create a reputation as an Employer of Choice, and make attracting and retaining employees in a competitive world much easier.

1. Create a winning culture

It’s your core role as a business leader to focus your time, energy and resources on creating a culture that will get the best out of your people and teams.

A winning culture is one where employees are engaged, empowered and aligned to your vision, purpose, values and strategy. Your culture is the sum of your behaviours and behaviours are driven from the values of your organisation.

Culture therefore starts with values so, with your team, develop three to five core values that outline the expected behaviours of your business. As a business leader, you need to live, breathe and act in line with these values every day.

Download the Values Workshop Guide for examples and templates to help you get started!

Empower your people with trust and responsibility. Back yourself to hire great people and give them the freedom and responsibility to make great decisions.

2. Regular and timely feedback

If you do not have a regular performance review process, implement one! As a manager you need to unpick what your employees’ key drivers are - what do they want from the company and their role? Then you need to give them the tools, resources and training to achieve this.

Provide clear expectations on career pathways. What does the employee need to do to advance in their career?

Meet regularly, both formally and informally, to check-in and provide support.

3. Create a high-performance culture

Develop a performance culture that recognises and rewards strong performance and acts swiftly and decisively when employees are not performing or not acting in line with company values.

Pay high performers top of market rates (not above or below) and provide individualised benefits for high performance. Steer away from financial bonuses and look for benefits that are meaningful to your people such as extra days off or a weekend away.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Clearly communicate expectations with your personnel, both at the team and individual level, and set a regular meeting rhythm and agenda with your personnel.

Use these meetings as an opportunity to share information on how the business is performing, both good and bad, discuss upcoming projects and initiatives, and hear about any lessons learned.

Have an open-door policy and encourage your people to ask questions.

5. Recruitment and onboarding

Recruiting is the single most important thing a manager does at work. You want employees who are great at their job and fit in seamlessly with your team and culture. So, having clear job descriptions that clearly outline the roles and responsibilities as well as key competencies and attributes helps assess an employee’s technical fit. Having clearly started values is vital when assessing potential employees as a ‘right fit’.

Set your employees up for success by developing a recruitment and selection policy. Develop an induction programme, specifically a 90-day training programme that focuses on how to operate in the organisation (strategy, culture, values), and is not just role specific.

The Ultimate Guide to attracting and retaining tradies

A retention strategy is one component of HR practice that underpin successful trades businesses. To help your business attract and retain employees, we’ve created The Ultimate Guide to attracting and retaining tradies.

This playbook will teach you how you can invest the time and effort to create an environment that will help enable your people to be aligned around a common purpose and vision so your hard work pays off in spades.


Jeff Broughton
Author: Jeffrey Broughton | Associate Partner