Why Formally Onboarding New Hires is a Prerequisite for Successful Projects (and Needs To Be Part of Your Construction Management Style)

9/27/2021

Onboarding new hires is a vital part of any job. You want to be sure that your team members have the tools they need to succeed, whether on the job site or in the office. In many construction companies, however, new employees get thrown in with no formal onboarding. They may receive basic, on-the-job information and general support and onboarding from corporate, but they may not receive the tools and mentorship they need to truly be successful on the job. 

The latest generation of new project engineers, however, expects something more--and your construction company can benefit from providing it for them.

Welcoming New Hires

New construction hires, particularly project engineers, typically start working in July, August, and September. These are the times that line up with the end of their schooling--and, in many cases, times when you have a steady stream of work coming in. Proper onboarding sometimes falls by the wayside, especially if you have a rush of projects coming in. 

Welcoming new hires--and providing them with proper orientation and onboarding--can make a huge difference in their experience with your company. 

Check Their Knowledge Base
New hires fresh out of school are likely familiar with the basics of the construction industry from previous internships or their academic careers. That does not necessarily mean, however, that they're completely prepared for the challenges they may face when they're actually in the field, on a job site for the first time. As part of the onboarding process, you need a solution that will allow you to gauge the real experience of your new hires so that you can determine what they can effectively accomplish and where they may need additional support. 

Provide Company-Specific Tools and Information
Your company has a specific set of procedures and tools that you use to ensure maximum efficiency across your job site. You might have a specific timekeeping app, specific procedures for construction document management, or scheduling procedures to ensure that each job site has what it needs over the course of each project. Your new project engineers need to understand those systems and know how to use them effectively in order to maximize their ability to function within your job sites and environments. 

Fill in Knowledge Gaps
In addition to the other steps in the onboarding process, you may need to fill in some practical knowledge gaps that new hires simply may not have. Sometimes, that's as simple as connecting them with a senior member of the team who can answer questions and ensure that they have the tools they need in order to be successful. Other times, it may mean ensuring that your newest team members have access to the right information: a searchable database, for example, where they can check out OSHA regulations, make sure they're updated on the company's latest policies and procedures, and ensure that they know exactly how to do something on the job site.

On-the-Job Instruction

Project engineers, in particular, often need to hit the ground running. You need them out on the job, overseeing those projects and taking care of coordination to get the job done. You don't want them stuck in the office, going through paperwork or trying to sit through yet another meeting when they should be taking care of urgent items.

Fortunately, today's technology allows for on-the-job instruction and onboarding.

Provide Immediate, Practical Answers
With oversight from a senior crew member and an effective use of technology, you can provide immediate, practical answers to the questions your employees may face on the job. They won't have to call out and wait for a response, which could slow down the job site and make it incredibly difficult for you to meet your deadlines, since they'll have that information at their fingertips. 

Encourage Hands-On Learning
Project engineers often learn best when they have the chance to get their hands dirty. With on-the-job instruction, they're able to take that basic learning out of the classroom and into the real-world environment where they will ultimately use those skills.

Improve Company Culture

Culture is an incredibly important part of your company. Not only are highly engaged teams an estimated 21% more profitable, they're better able to keep employees, more likely to hire the best new employees from graduates to experienced construction professionals, and better positioned to deliver on customer demands. 

During the formal onboarding process, you have the opportunity to put your company culture on display and make sure that your new hires will fit into it seamlessly. During onboarding, you have the chance to address many common concerns for new hires. 

What's Important to Your Company?
Your company may pride itself on quality work, including a high standard of work that you deliver regardless of what might be going on around you. You might be proud of your commitment to the local community, or of your commitment to your employees. Through the onboarding process, you can provide new hires with the answer to those important questions and make sure they're prepared to adhere to your company's values. 

How Do You Take Care of Your People?
As hiring becomes more difficult across a wide range of industries, it has also become increasingly important for companies to let their employees know what they'll do to take care of them. What benefits do you provide? How do employees request time off? What steps have you taken to create a trustworthy, meaningful company culture? During the onboarding process, make sure your new team members know what advantages your company offers and how they can take advantage of them. For example, tuition reimbursement means little if your employees don't know that they can secure it. 

In addition, as you onboard new employees, you can make sure they understand your company culture and how to maintain it with the employees under them. Many project engineers, fresh out of school, may have a hard time making that transition--but your onboarding process can help streamline it. 

Are you ready to enhance your new hires' learning and provide them with the tools they need? Contact us to learn more about our highly effective onboarding solutions.