Attracting and developing talent has always been at the heart of workforce management and learning and development (L&D). But with employees harder than ever to recruit and retain, this long-standing goal took on even greater importance in 2021-2022. Meanwhile, rising costs due to inflation made enhancing operational efficiencies another essential focus for many organizations. Completing the challenge trifecta: the need to continue growing the company footprint.
The Training team at electrical construction services company Rosendin was able to take those three corporate goals and create learning solutions that gave its employees the expertise and tools they need for success. The programs Rosendin’s Learning professionals created and rolled out powered a year in which the company reaped the well-prepared, knowledgeable talent it needed for continued growth.
Invest in the Best
With nearly two years of remote work and greater lifestyle flexibility job applicants have gotten much more selective about the employers they choose. In 2021-2022, Rosendin decided that the more competitive recruitment and retention marketplace required special attention. Thus, “Invest in the Best: Attract, Develop and Retain the Best and Brightest in the Industry” was born as a key organizational goal. “Many industries currently are struggling with the issue of diversity and inclusion. In the construction industry, it has been incredibly difficult to attract and maintain the younger generations, as they are seeking collaborative and inclusive environments not typical in the industry,” say Training Coordinator Kayla Hart and Vice President of Learning and Development Stephanie Roldan. “The company needed a program that taught not only gender and ethnic diversity, but also generational diversity. A novel approach to solving this issue was through deploying a program called ‘CoreClarity StrengthsFinders.”’
Rosendin’s Training Department launched the CoreClarity program across the organization beginning in 2018. Before working with each department or group, each participant is assessed in three areas:
1. Safety: How psychologically safe do they feel on the team?
2. Belonging: Do they feel they are part of the team?
3. Mattering: Do they feel like what they do matters?
Participants complete an assessment designed to uncover their top five strengths; it is presented during the Self-Discovery class. The second class, Team Dynamics, incorporates a better understanding of how to work with those strengths and how strengths play out in team dynamics. In one of the activities, participants are provided with a department-specific problem to solve. They must determine which strengths would be needed to accomplish the task and then put together the right team using cards that show only the participant’s top five strengths. No other indicators (such as name, gender, role, experience, etc.) are provided in order to eliminate unconscious bias.
“The program intends to demonstrate that the diversity of strengths, as with the diversity of people, creates a stronger team. All new hires come to the company with valuable individual strengths that make teams stronger,” Hart and Roldan explain.
To attract younger generations and help them see construction as a viable option in lieu of college, the Rosendin Talent Development team speaks at high schools to students and parents about the benefits of entering the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). “As part of this endeavor, the Workforce Development Program was developed to provide younger generations the skills they need to enter the Apprenticeship Training Program and retain those who come to our company by providing an onboarding experience that presents an inclusive and welcoming environment,” Hart and Roldan say.
Because the company is partnered with the IBEW through a joint training alliance, employees can earn ACE credits toward a college degree, as well as pursue a degree through a partnering university.
Enhance Operational Excellence
A key part of becoming more operationally efficient is quality control. For that reason, Hart and Roldan and their colleagues launched a training initiative focused on quality assurance/quality control (QAQC). They did this by creating the QAQC Certification Program, which consists of two certifications and three sets of modules.
In the base module, employees can achieve a QAQC Inspector Certification by completing four modules: Project Start-Up, QAQC Process, Building Information Modeling (BIM) 360 — Field, and PlanGrid (a field application support course). In the second module, participants can achieve a Start-Up and Commissioning Certification toward QAQC lead by completing three instructor-led modules: Safety, Start-Up Process, and Commissioning Process. The third module is for those interested in becoming certified as a QAQC lead on projects and requires the first two modules and a management and customer satisfaction course.
“Through this certification program, additional regional resources were developed, resulting in an increased focus on QAQC training company-wide,” Hart and Roldan report. “By measuring the number of punch-list items at the end of the project (the owner or general contractor captures punch-list items as ‘items to be corrected’), this initiative produced a 52 percent decrease in deficiencies from 2020 to 2021.”
Increase the National Footprint
At Rosendin, a key part of company growth is improving how the company finds and prepares future leaders. “The rapid growth of the company allowed us to develop and train future leaders in the company quickly,” say Hart and Roldan. “The Talent Development team focused on developing future leaders through our Leadership Academy Program. Employees who enter the Leadership Academy are considered priority candidates for management positions within the company.”
Part of the program includes Leadership Development workshops that have a specific theme and last for 2.5 days. The first workshop is related to company awareness, and it incorporates handson activities and role-playing. Attendees become the executive team for a fictitious company called “Sparky’s Electric.” During this activity, students must make typical business decisions, but with a few “surprise” circumstances cropping up unexpectedly, providing potential leaders with valuable tools that are useful in future leadership positions.
In the second part of the second workshop on self-awareness, participants complete 360-degree feedback on each attendee, and they must select three or four areas to target for improvement.
“After the completion of workshop 5, post-workshop follow-up 360s identified a 93 percent improvement in participants’ targeted areas,” say Hart and Roldan. “A teambuilding adventure in each of the workshops allows facilitators to observe the added benefit of improved internal communication. The participants get to know each other and the senior executives better. The internal promotion rate across field and office leadership positions in 2021 was 91.42 percent.”
Along with its Leadership Academy programming, Rosendin focused on tying its development programs together to form a pipeline to provide employees with a clear path for career advancement and to prepare future leaders. The Surge Program, Field Supervision Program, and Emerging Leaders collectively serve as a pipeline, with each independent program a step toward the next in the hierarchy. “Pipeline programs provide an opportunity for employees to actively pursue career advancement while providing a preparation mechanism for future executive leaders,” Hart and Roldan say, noting that, due to the company’s leadership pipeline, the overall internal promotion rate is 100 percent for senior leadership and executive positions.
Looking ahead, “one of the most innovative training initiatives we have in the works for 2023 is working with our software development team to embed learning in our construction project workflows,” Hart and Roldan share. “With their capability to use machine learning and data analytics, they are developing methods to address learning needs by capturing when an employee is stuck in performing their next steps in the process. With this information, we now can deploy training at the time the employee needs it—including answers to their questions, assistive prompts, or video training placed into the workflow, which reduces the impacts to productivity while still addressing learning gaps.”
This is a critical time for Learning and Development professionals, Hart and Roldan say. The need to effectively train and retain employees by creating satisfying workplaces with opportunities for advancement has never been greater. “Employers will be pressed harder by the newer generation to provide stable, secure work; upward mobility within an organization; and opportunities to have equitable paths to development and leadership roles,” they emphasize. “L&D teams will need to know how to teach and have the business acumen and experience to help individuals build career pathways relevant to their needs and aspirations, while meeting business needs.”