Arcoro is a proud member of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). The association’s core purpose is to strengthen and amplify the success of women in the construction industry. As a software company that’s focused on providing solutions for the construction industry, we share the goal of empowering women both in construction and in software. 

An article was recently published in NAWIC Today Magazine about Jill Brugman, Arcoro’s Director of HR. It is reprinted below with permission. 

All other things being equal—like pay, hours and the type of work—a company’s culture can often mean the difference between high turnover and open positions and an engaged and productive workforce. That’s because employees want to work at places that meet their needs as people, enable them to be themselves, and feel safe and welcoming. 

The facts support this. According to a survey by Glassdoor: 

  • Almost eight out of 10 people consider a company’s culture before applying for a job.  
  • Over half of respondents said that in the job satisfaction equation culture carries more weight than pay. 

And that research was done before the pandemic and the Great Resignation, which pushed culture further up the ladder of importance. Since then, employee expectations have intensified, and that likely won’t change for construction where there continues to be a deep and extended labor shortage. While other industries have slowed on hiring, construction companies are still increasing wages and sweetening benefits and perks to attract employees. 

That’s because the demand for employees in construction and contracting isn’t likely to decrease—even in the face of inflation and a possible recession. A slowing housing market may mean some talent working in residential construction becomes available to other parts of the industry, but demand for employees in commercial, highways and utility will still outstrip supply. According to ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu, “The No. 1 challenge for contractors continues to be securing sufficient numbers of skilled, motivated construction workers.” 

This all points to why company culture is so important, and it’s not just in the near term. Employees have choices about where they want to work, so the beliefs, values and actions of an organization come into play when and whether someone decides to look for a position … or a career. 

“It’s all about engagement,” says Jill Brugman, director of HR for Arcoro, a company that provides HR construction technology. “When you have a strong culture you see more retention, greater happiness and just an overall higher level of employee commitment and loyalty.” Brugman, a NAWIC member of the Greater Phoenix Chapter #98 who previously worked in HR in both construction and manufacturing, says that making sure everyone feels included is essential in disseminating culture. “It’s not just about the people in the office—everyone needs to be included and appreciated.” 

That’s why she wholeheartedly recommends that people and business leaders make sure they go where their employees are—whether that’s a plant floor or a job site. “It’s a really big deal when someone from HR shows up on site wearing jeans and a hard hat,” she says. “But it’s not only about showing up, it’s about listening and also demonstrating how much the company values the work employees are doing.” Brugman says that give-backs like an onsite barbeque, a family picnic or a raffle are always appreciated, but they’re only part of what’s really important for construction and contracting companies. “One of the biggest aspects of culture is safety. It can’t be overstated because it’s fundamental to this industry and it also makes good business sense,” she says. Employees want to feel that their employer values their physical safety. That’s why it’s crucial to make safety everyone’s responsibility.  

“I’ve been at companies that have a no-questions-asked stop-work policy,” Brugman explains. “Anyone has the power to stop work at any time if they feel conditions are unsafe.” She says these policies underpin culture because they demonstrate how serious the company is about safety. 

Of course, safety extends beyond on-the-job injuries to how employees treat each other and how leaders and managers behave. Women working in all industries can be subject to sexual harassment, but those in construction are more likely to have a negative experience. A 2017 survey sponsored by Opportunity Now found that 59% of women aged 28-40 working in construction had experienced sexual harassment. By comparison research by LeanIn conducted in 2018 found that 35% of women working corporate jobs had this experience. “Culture isn’t just the components like recognition, training and so on, it’s also about what is acceptable and tolerated on the job,” Brugman says. “And companies that tolerate or turn a blind eye to harassing behavior of any kind aren’t going to be the kinds of places that attract and retain talent in the long run.” 

Culture is certainly a big part of attracting and retaining employees within individual companies. But the construction industry is composed of thousands and thousands of individual companies. If the larger goal is to attract new people to careers in construction, there can’t be just a few shining examples of great company culture. For that, strong, inclusive, and positive company cultures need to become the norm.  

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