There’s no perfect way to hire team members in the construction industry. For us, it’s a combination of word of mouth, current employee referrals, and taking chances on new hires that we don’t know, based purely on their experience. At MILBURN, it isn’t about being able to attract people to our company — it’s about trying to pick the best people out of a big stack of applicants.
One thing we take pride in at MILBURN is the fact that we’ve created a culture where all of our people know we truly care about them. Especially when it comes to our people in the field, the laborer market is a very small world. They all know each other, and they all talk. Once they hear how we treat everybody, and how our business is growing, they come to us.
We think company culture grows both from the top-down and from the bottom up, which is why hiring the right people for any position is so incredibly important to us. The working environment at any company is created by leadership — as leaders, we provide a framework for our field culture. But we need everyone to buy into that framework, from every laborer to the foremen to the superintendents. If that doesn’t happen, the culture will never develop the way we want it to.
As a business owner, the last thing I want to do is send out company memos pushing for certain things to happen regarding our culture. Instead, our people should be pushing us, which requires open dialogue. We’re always willing to listen to ideas from people on every level of the company, but it’s on us to make sure they’re comfortable speaking up.
There are a couple of different schools of thought in our industry regarding how to hire the best people. One idea is to hire experienced people who already know what they’re doing and adapt their skills to the way we like things done. The other is to hire young people who aren’t experienced in demolition and mold them into the kind of employees we want.
There’s positives and negatives to both of those mindsets, of course. When you hire experienced people, they might bring with them some bad habits they’ve learned elsewhere. Bad habits that are deeply ingrained can be awfully difficult to break. On the other hand, if you hire too many people who don’t know what they’re doing, you might not have enough resources to properly train them.
The perfect balance in my mind is one experienced hire for every two younger, less experienced hires. There’s a happy balance there. We want talent that’s experienced, but that’s also willing to do things our way. We also want people who have a positive mentality, who are willing to work and learn.
One of the biggest problems with the construction industry today is that far too many companies still treat their employees like tools, rather than as human beings. Historically in our industry, field crews are about as valued as a jackhammer — they have no involvement in the company, other than just showing up to work and getting their paycheck. We think the best way to push back against this mindset is to consistently hire people who share our values, and who we trust to help develop our culture in an inclusive manner.Back to all Blogs & News