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Photo: Alan Levine / Pxhere

I’ll get right to the point: Today’s business owners have lost a huge amount of loyalty, commitment and productivity from their employees. Leaders in the construction industry since 2007 have seen hundreds of experienced personnel either leave our industry or desperately hold tight onto their jobs while having to assume a 25% to 50% increase in scope of work with a reduced amount of compensation. As I talk to many professionals in our industry daily, I hear this common theme: “I am stressed, burned out and my boss only cares about himself.”

Another typical response is, “I can’t wait until this market improves because I will be out of here in a minute.”

I always follow up with the question, "Have you spoken to the owner, division leader or your boss about how you feel?” The answer is always the same: “They would not care if I did."

It is no wonder why we in leadership have had to focus on other critical areas during these past several years. Concerns about whether we would even have a business standing drove us to be intense about, cash flow, bank requirements, and reducing costs. This is not about indicting anyone, it’s about now seeing our reality as it really is and recognizing now’s the time to refocus on our people.

3 Ways to Engage and Inspire Employees

Here are three quick ways to begin turning your people back into highly productive, committed employees.

  1. As the leader of your organization, the attention you show for your employees is almost always appreciated. Start immediately holding one-on-one sessions with your key personnel. The agenda is to recognize their additional workloads, disclose that you understand how difficult it has been for them, commend them on their achievements and solicit feedback on their ideas and concerns. Where you can make changes to accommodate this feedback given, do it ASAP. Your direct reports should repeat this process through their departments as well.
  2. The time where a small group of people in a room developing the vision, strategy and initiatives for an organization and then expecting flawless execution is long gone. Employees today need to be engaged and participatory in strategy discussions in order for them to have buy in, ownership and ultimately accountability. There is nothing better to energize your employees than to send them a message they are valued in this process. There is a process called Fast Track Strategies that engages 10 to 100 people representing a cross section of the organization over a three day 20 hour session that is focused and effective. It’s not rocket science but delivers an outcome that few leaders can claim. If you’re interested, I can fill in the details for you on this methodology.
  3. Offer personal disclosure to anyone who will listen. A leader’s greatest attribute in building a loyal, trusting following is being honest with others about their feelings and concerns regarding where they are challenge and how the business needs to turn around. The greater the openness, the greater the employee support and ultimately their productivity and commitment. Employees need to feel like they are valued and trusted enough to hear this stuff.

Now is our time to turn employee opinion from one that will present disaster to us as leaders when the market does improve to the peace of mind that you will create in a stable, productive work force.