Business AdvisoryTrades and Construction

Create a Culture Tradies Line Up to Work For

Jeff Broughton Jeffrey Broughton
25 November 2021
5 min read

25 November 2021

Creating an environment and culture that engages and motivates tradies is your number one role as a business leader. As we discuss in our e-book The Ultimate Guide to attracting and retaining tradies, ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’. You can have the best business strategy in the world, but it will die a slow and lonely death if you have not created a business culture that tradies want to work for.

However, building or changing a culture takes time and, unfortunately, many businesses (both big and small) get caught in short-termism. Whether you’re a trade and construction business owner stuck working ‘in the business’ or working for a larger business where shareholder pressure is driving short-term profits, time and energy diverted away from culture building could be losing you money.

Benefits of culture building for tradies

Culture is the common set of beliefs and values that shape the behaviour of your employees and teams. We talk about culture as ‘the way things get done around here’.

When your culture is strong, you’re more likely to experience a number of benefits, including:

  • Increased employee retention.

  • Recruitment of better talent.

  • Improved brand reputation.

  • More productive staff.

  • More sales.

  • Improvements to the bottom line.

However, when your culture is poor, you’re more likely to experience a high rate of turnover, unmotivated and disengaged employees and struggle to attract and retain tradies and skilled workers.

Strategies to help create a winning culture

You could write a novel on how to create a strong culture, but any winning culture begins with a few simple steps.

1. Develop an aspirational vision for the future of your trade business

Create an aspirational vision that your employees can get behind and provide them with a common purpose to align to. People want to be excited and engaged to be working toward something meaningful.

2. Find your purpose

As Simon Sinek through his Golden Circle framework describes, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Employees want meaning in their life and work. What is your purpose and why would an employee want to work for you? Apple isn’t about selling personal computers, it’s about ‘thinking different’ and challenging the status quo. Airbnb isn’t about short-term rentals; it’s about connecting people so that you can belong anywhere.

3. Create values that will help drive the behaviours you want to see

Your vision and purpose are important, but values underpin everything you do. While culture is the common set of beliefs your employees hold, values shape the behaviour of employees and teams.

Lots of companies have nice sounding values but real company values are shown by the daily actions of behaviours of every employee within your business. And, as the business owner, you set the tone by displaying the values each and every day.

What are core values?

Core values are the handful of guiding principles by which your business navigates. These guiding principles drive the behaviours that are expected to achieve the team’s goals.

Values help people understand the difference between right and wrong and they can also help your business to determine if it is on the right path and fulfilling its goals by creating an unwavering guide.

Why are core values important to trade businesses?

Core values are the building blocks of your business’ culture. Getting these right helps make your business a better place for all your employees to work and help to make your business one that tradies will line up to work for.

How to create values for your trades business

Step 1: Hold a workshop with all your employees

  • Explain your vision, purpose and strategy.

  • Break into smaller groups and talk about the behaviours and beliefs that employees must display to reach your vision, stay true to your purpose and execute your strategy.

  • Brainstorm the key themes and narrow down the top three to five. These are your core values.

Step 2: Develop good and bad examples of values

  • Come back together as a group.

  • Develop good and bad examples of behaviours for each value.

  • Get your employees to set the appropriate level of behaviours by telling you what is and what is not acceptable.

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

Tips to help implement values in your trades business

  • It all starts with your leaders. Leaders must live and breathe your values on a daily basis.

  • Print out each of your values with the examples of good and bad behaviours and put them on the walls around the office.

  • Tie values into regular performance reviews with staff. Staff will set objectives and measure themselves against your core values.

  • Regularly link back discussions and meetings to your values.

  • Reward staff for good examples of values in action.

  • Hold each other to account when staff are displaying bad examples of behaviours.

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