TORONTO, ON, Canada — Paul Ridilla has been around the block a few times. Repeating the words that he “has been in the business for 63-1/2 years,” Ridilla drew on a lifetime of experience during his ISH North America seminar about the importance of recruiting, motivating, and retaining employees.

Ridilla pointed to an important part in employer-employee relationships he calls “humaneering.” “Humaneering is adding pride to an employee’s life,” he said. “His work will show it.”


Ridilla suggested that employers should tell workers that they “have the best jobs in town.” He said that if enough business owners and employees really believed that and told other people about their “great” jobs, there would be no worker shortage.

“What your people tell their friends and neighbors is how you treat them,” he said. “If you treat your people right, and they tell everyone else, you will never be able to hire everyone who will want to work for you.”

He added that each company needs “ambassadors” who say nice things about the company. “You need the braggers and not the bitchers.”

If it takes more than talking to get prospects interested in working for your company, Ridilla said, then there are other methods to use. He said that a referral or “finder’s fee” should be paid out not only for recruiting but also for retention.

“Pay the same referral fee on the anniversary of each employee’s hire to the person who recommended that employee,” he suggested. “Reward them for an employee who stays with the company.”


Ridilla places a lot of stock in the role of the foreman in each company, stating, “The industry has always taken the hardest working craftsman and made him into a foreman.” He said it is the foreman’s job to promote a good workplace environment and keep the employees motivated, even if a simple gesture is all that is needed.

“I will never let a foreman supervise others without a smile on his face,” Ridilla said. “A smile can make the work environment pleasant, which is very important if one considers that one-third to one-half of every working person’s life is spent working for or with someone else. Each should do their part to make the work environment less miserable and more pleasant.

“Your foreman needs to be a coach, too. He needs to build a team. Every player on the team should get a chance to play every position. Give everyone a chance and then figure out who the first-, second-, and third-stringers are.

“A good foreman is one who constantly trains people. He is not afraid to break up his current team.”

Ridilla believes that the presence of a good foreman also helps to resolve little problems before they grow into big annoyances. “A grievance in the construction trade is like walking around with a pebble in your shoe,” he said. “A foreman should also give employees options instead of telling them what to do — called ‘ask and tell.’”

Perhaps the most important issue a foreman faces is discipline, according to Ridilla. He cited the constant reminders to employees to wear safety gear and how to avoid lost time on the job. “You should never say to an employee, ‘You should have known better.’ Employees should have a set of rules that they understand and sign off on. You must have a written and posted chain of command so employees know who to answer to.

“Discipline involves pride and respect. Employees should be proud of what they do and should be respected.”

Ridilla can be reached at 71 North Triplet Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL 32707; 407-699-8515; 407-695-7225 (fax).

Publication date: 12/16/2002