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Staying power

While encouraging people into construction is a problem, keeping them remains a challenge.

A MODERN industry requires a modern workforce. Keeping it means offering modern employment benefits packages.

On the surface the main reasons young people overlook careers in construction remain consistently low starting salaries and accompanying poor career development prospects. But many other experienced staff are being driven away by poor working conditions and restrictions on their lifestyles.

This group often forms the heart of the workforce, comprising people with experience, youth and enthusiasm. It also includes the few women in the industry who struggle to match the demands of a career with family commitments.

Nick Isles of the Institute of Personnel Management is convinced that employers have got to start thinking much harder about how they keep staff.

'With a tight labour market employers are now having to think through their recruitment and retention strategies in much more detail, ' he says. 'This includes using broad based benefits to appeal to and satisfy the needs of the workforce.'

Isles points out that it is not just the construction industry that is having problems keeping staff in the current job market.

While the legal profession has made great inroads towards encouraging diversity in its workforce, law firms still have much to do to keep their staff long enough for them to really fulfil their potential.

So for all professionals, maintaining a balance between their careers and their personal lives is becoming a demand rather than luxury. Isles highlights the need to offer different options to appeal to the different sections of the workforce.

'Flexible forms of working are particularly important to parents, ' he points out. While maternity and paternity leave allows parents time off at the birth of children, more options are still required to allow mothers to return to their work afterwards.

'Younger people on the other hand are keen to be able to take sabbaticals to allow them to travel, ' he adds. 'Duvet days (extra time off) and concierge services at work also help to free up employees' time out of the office.'

The key to employers making the right choices about what they offer is to really understand what motivates their workforce.

And this will probably mean finding out on virtually an individual basis.

'There is a battle for staff that makes people have to be more focused on the individual, ' he says. 'Employers need a deck of cards relating to each member of staff. It is not just about money.'

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