A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Attracting and Retaining Talent – Now an Executive Level Function

The following article originally appeared in the February newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC.  Reprinted with permission.

The increasing realization that talented people are truly the strategic separator for successful construction companies is significantly changing how HR initiatives are developed and executed.  The leadership of this activity has moved to the executive suite (the C-Suite in magazine jargon), because a growing amount of resources are being strategically deployed to ensure the company is a winner in the escalating “war for talent.”

It has been interesting to watch the change in this function over the years, and the respect it has steadily gained.  It has moved from being the ancillary responsibility of the payroll clerk, who worried about paperwork, through the Personnel Manager phase, where the concerns were about process, to the Human Resource Director phase where policies became the concern.  Throughout this evolution, the activities within the function expanded too.  It grew from recruiting and hiring, then compensation and benefit administration, then training and development.  Larger, more advanced, companies also added performance reviews, attitude surveys, and exit interviews.

Today this function, at least for its strategic direction and resource commitment, resides as a responsibility of the executive team, frequently with an officer in charge.  These senior leaders have a wide variety of titles that range from “Vice-President of Human Resources,” to “Chief People Officer.”  The title is unimportant as long as executive level thinking is intensely focused on this function in both good and bad times.  Executives with talent-war winners are regularly asking each other hard questions about every dimension of how their organization recruits, hires, develops and retains the right people for their culture – and are making necessary changes.

They have taken time to define their culture, especially the values that are its foundation.  They are passionate to articulate it and demonstrate it.  They have also taken time to understand characteristics of people who repeatedly excel and thrive in their culture.  They then look for people who possess these traits and the sources that best provide them.  A culture’s values reflect in the way people are trusted and treated, in the approach to compensation; in the work rules; in the artifacts (buildings, office, environment, icons); and in the communications and celebrations.  Cultures that are clearly designed and consistently demonstrated either attract or repel.  Is your company executive team clear and aligned about yours?