Trades and ConstructionBusiness Advisory

It’s tough out there for trades

Jeff Broughton Jeffrey Broughton
22 June 2022
5 min read

22 June 2022

A whopping 50% of workers in New Zealand are going to be looking for a new role within the next 12 months, according to a recent survey by Employment Hero.

For the majority of trades business owners, who are already grappling with historically low unemployment at 3.2%, inflation skyrocketing to 6.9%, supply chain restraints and project delays, its tough work out there.

After a strong rebound from the initial COVID-19 outbreak, the Great Resignation is real and it’s happening to tradies across the country. It is an employee market out there so developing a compelling employee value proposition for your trades business has never been more important.

Retaining existing employees

First and foremost, you need to look after the people you have before chasing new employees. The cost of recruitment can be significant (up to a third of the employee’s salary!)

Pay well, but don’t get caught in a wage war

Your number one priority is to look after your own people, hire great people and pay them well! Make sure you understand where market rates are and be comfortable your rates are competitive. At the same time, you should be looking at increasing your charge out rates to cover wage increases.

Develop a well-being benefits package

In today’s competitive hiring market, it is more important than ever to offer a generous benefits package. Employee benefits have been shown to boost both recruitment and retention efforts, while also maintaining greater satisfaction among established workers. Studies have shown that a one-dollar investment in staff well-being yields five times the financial returns through a reduction in absenteeism and improved productivity[1].

Here are some ideas:

  • Flexible working conditions, e.g. four-day week or nine-day fortnight.

  • Health perks such as healthy food and gym memberships.

  • Additional leave for birthdays or long weekends.

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.

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

Clear career pathways

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.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

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

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.

Recruiting new employees

Businesses need to think outside the box on how they can increase capacity and meet the growing demand from customers.

Build from within

Commit to a strategy of building talent from within and showing clear career pathways for your employees. Invest in their professional development and set them up for success.

Technology and innovation

Technology and innovation are a key driver of productivity. In a tight labour market, technology saves time, improves performance, and allows your staff to complete higher value and productive work. Being ahead of the curve in trends and best practices also helps you stand out to potential employees - attracting innovative workers and building your business reputation.

Cast your net wider

Seek out talent where others aren’t looking. What are other industries with a transferable skill set that you could target? Hire for sift skills and back yourself to upskill them technically.

Create recruitment incentives for staff

Your staff are your eyes and ears on the ground and often have strong networks of talent from your competitors. Offer them enough of a financial incentive and they will likely perform better than any recruiter. What better way to spread your business’ reputation than through the mouths of happy employees?

Think outside of the box

Research and leverage advertising channels that could help you reach your audience. Are there particular social media platforms that are more popular in your industry? Or certain radio stations that your people listen to?

Get help supercharging your trades business

We’re hosting an evening for trade business owners on Wednesday 6 July to hear from our experts on the learnings they’ve developed from working with hundreds of tradie business owners.

Click here to register and come along.

[1] Wellbeing and productivity at work, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, March 2021

Jeff Broughton
Author: Jeffrey Broughton | Associate Partner