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March 3-7, 2026

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Secrets for Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent at Every Level



According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from April 2024, the number of job openings in the construction industry dipped nearly 7% over the past year. However, the number of people quitting their jobs jumped 28%. With that kind of employee-induced turnover, it’s wise for construction industry employers to re-evaluate not only how they’re going about recruiting workers, but also retaining them.

“Building a stable workforce is never going to be like it was 10 years ago,” says Jeani Ringkob, Owner of StoryBuilt Growth Strategy & Marketing, a consulting firm whose mission is to help busy entrepreneurs identify and fix the weakest link in their businesses. A lot of construction companies are finding out that recruiting and retention are among their weakest links.

“Today’s workforce has different needs and expectations,” says Ringkob, who was a featured speaker at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023. “Effective recruiting and retention now require a strategic approach toward developing a deeper understanding of your workforce.”

Invaluable insights from your best employees

Earth Digger Driver at construction site

Understanding your best employees is of utmost importance. Your best employees are a reflection of the types of people you want to bring into your company. By learning the following, you’ll be able to refine your recruiting and retention tactics to better target and resonate with these types of people:

1. What made them want to work for your company?

2. What prompted them to leave their last job in the first place?

3. What other industries have they worked in?

4. What do they like and not like about working for your company?

5. What are their career aspirations?

Another good question to ask is, What do you wish you would have known, or wish would have happened when you first started working for our company? This is important because it helps discover insights that will help shape onboarding tactics. Onboarding has become a crucial piece of retention strategy as workforce turnover has risen.

Insights around employees’ hobbies, interests, family life, etc. can also be valuable to employers. Knowing this type of information not only helps create stronger employer-employee connections but can also help shape messaging and other tactics to better target prospective new employees.

Asking “personal” questions can be a slippery slope, though. “Always involve HR before asking these types of questions,” Ringkob advises. “One good approach is to make it clear that answering is completely optional. But again, run everything by HR first.”

Ways to gather employee insights

Intermittent interviews

Ringkob says there is no substitute for getting into the field, making connections with workers, and having great conversations. These face-to-face interactions give the employee an opportunity to talk. At the same time, these interactions allow the interviewer to hear the employee’s open-ended responses, listen for their voice inflections, and observe other non-verbal signals. All of that helps identify things that really matter to employees.Two multi-ethnic construction workers meeting at a construction site, talking about a serious matter. One of them, a mature African-American woman in her 40s is standing with her arms crossed, looking at the other one, a young Hispanic man.Listening to employees will also help shape future recruitment and retention messaging. You can pick up on certain words, phrases, and jargon that can be incorporated into your own communications. “That’s a huge part of building a talent brand that is truly authentic,” Ringkob says.

That said, it isn’t always practical for company leaders to consistently get out into the field to make connections. While never a substitute, other tactics can supplement those face-to-face, employer-employee interactions.


“Having employees fill out surveys, oftentimes once or twice a year, can generate some useful data and information,” Ringkob says. There are many online tools available, some of which are free. Ringkob likes Google Forms because it’s easy to use.

Surveys can include a combination of multiple-choice and open-ended questions. Ringkob says it’s also a good idea to administer them in both English and Spanish if that’s what your workforce requires.

Lean on frontline leaders

Senior leaders shouldn’t be afraid to lean on their frontline leaders to gather some of this research — especially those face-to-face interviews. “People such as crew leaders learn a lot about their teams,” Ringkob says. “Encourage them to take an interest and document what they learn.”

Ringkob says mid-level managers can also help gather survey information. She has seen instances where a crew leader sits down with an employee on the jobsite, asks the survey questions, and fills out the survey for them on a tablet. It all comes down to making it as easy as possible for the employee to provide the insights you’re looking for.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to make sure the employee feels comfortable offering candid responses. Ringkob says it might be helpful to enlist the help of an independent third party to conduct some of the research, particularly the face-to-face interviews.

Insight-driven recruiting and retention

Conducting employee research is the first step. Then company leaders have to look at what the responses are telling them. In some instances, a company might be doing things that aren’t aligned with what employees are saying. Those things need to change. In other instances, tactics that are well-aligned could be leaned into even more.

Ringkob points to a handful of areas where employee insights can influence a company’s recruiting and retention tactics.


Employee insights can help a company identify what its ideal employee looks like, and then develop messaging that speaks in a way that is relevant, authentic, and engaging to that type of person.

Where does this incredibly authentic and engaging messaging come from? Ringkob says HR personnel don’t have to take the lead on this. In today’s labor market, tasks like creating job ads and other employee-facing media should involve people who understand employer branding. That might involve someone in the company’s marketing department, or perhaps an outside marketing partner or consultant.

Websites that sell

An increasingly important employee-facing medium is your website. Today’s consumers, especially the younger generations, want to do research and expect to find the information they’re looking for.Portrait of young man working in a sawmill smiling and looking at the camera in a big field with a tractor next to him.“Most people want to be 70% of the way to making their final purchase decision before ever talking to the seller,” Ringkob points out. Given that desire, a construction company should think about how well the careers landing page on its website engages prospective employees.

“We like to set up lead generators on a career landing page,” Ringkob relates. “You’ll get people who are just starting to think about a new job. Give them a resource for giving you their contact information. It could be something like an article or video entitled, ‘What does a career in highway construction look like?’ Then you can start following up with those individuals by sending them additional information.”


Telling stories is an effective way to engage prospective new employees. It can be a combination of stories on the company as a whole, specific teams, and individuals. Whatever the case, Ringkob says the stories must be candid and authentic. And the more they are told from the employees’ voices, the better. Avoid videos that are overly produced, as too much polish can erode some of that authenticity.

Stories about individuals can be particularly powerful. Celebrate employee milestones, successes, promotions, etc. Weave in comments on why they like their job and working for your company. This type of thing is great for both blogs and videos. “Regardless, always let the employees be the heroes of your company,” Ringkob reminds.

One challenge with storytelling can be finding the time to do it. Ringkob says the most important thing is to set a schedule. She’s a fan of quarterly planning. That helps prevent this important aspect of recruiting from falling by the wayside. Also, take the time to sit down with marketing and HR to brainstorm ideas. Good planning makes good content creation much easier.


Ringkob says employers that create effective employee onboarding processes can improve retention by up to 82%. Furthermore, new employees are 18x more committed to their employer. Employee insights can help companies develop better onboarding programs to help hang onto good people.

Employee development

Employee insights will help company leaders identify gaps in workforce knowledge and training. Leaders can also learn about their employees’ career aspirations. Do employees want to advance in the company? If so, how quickly? What do employees need to grow? Learning this information can help companies better facilitate employee development, while also helping to set realistic expectations for employees.

These are just a few areas where employee insights can help construction companies improve their recruitment and retention tactics. As Ringkob points out, companies can also learn valuable information to help fine-tune their approaches to compensation, training, and more. Developing a better understanding of employees does take work, especially in the beginning. But once you’re off and running, you can gain momentum quickly. Most importantly, you’ll gain the insights needed to properly align your recruiting and retention efforts with today’s changing workforce needs.


StoryBuilt Growth Strategy & Marketing offers a Workforce Strategy Health Check, which helps enable companies to gain the insights needed to revolutionize workforce strategy and thrive in the market. Companies can learn how to eliminate bottlenecks, boost productivity, and optimize resources.


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