Barb Checket-Hanks

With unemployment at near-record highs, you might think that labor shortage is less of a problem now than it used to be. You’d be wrong. It still ranks high as one of the biggest problems for both residential and commercial contractors.

Contractors who are proactive about attracting and retaining talented help, particularly among their field staff, are working harder than ever to make sure their companies are competitive employers. It goes beyond insurance, steady work, and a 401K. It goes deep into the contractor’s philosophy about trust and workplace stress. It’s a reflection of the top management’s world view - that is, those things they deeply believe to be true, ideas and beliefs that were formed in their earlier years by parents or mentors.

At the recent Unified Group Service Management Forum, contractors were asked what their coworkers do when no one is watching them work. Some replied that they probably goof off. Others said they keep on working. Their answers showed how their world view affects the way they see their employees. And it may say more about the contractors themselves than it does about their employees.

Do employees tend to live up (or down) to these expectations? It’s entirely possible. What is more certain is that employees who feel they are trusted, and who are allowed to make decisions as adults, find their workplaces less stressful than those who do not feel trusted or treated like adults.

These are the contractors who find themselves at the top of the employment food chain. They are the contractors who enterThe NEWS’“Best Contractor to Work For” contest.


The NEWSis now accepting entries for this year’s contest. Do you work for a contractor that should enter?

Ask yourself the following:

• Is there enough work so that people are employed steadily, but not rushed to the point of exhaustion or carelessness?

• Are there health care and retirement benefits?

• Are there opportunities to advance?

• Are there plenty of training opportunities?

• Is management approachable?

• Can you call on other employees for help when you need it?

• Can you make on-the-job decisions, without having to worry about repercussions from higher ups?

If you’ve answered yes to most of these questions, check outThe NEWS’convenient online entry form at The deadline for registration is Nov. 16, so do it now!

They say that any publicity is good publicity. Let me tell you, past contractor winners of this contest have found that the articles and recognition that result from the Best Contractor to Work For contest offer some of the best publicity a contractor could receive. It sets them apart from their competitors (friendly or otherwise), and gives them an edge when it comes to employee recruitment.

This is what we’ve noticed about past winners. They trust and respect their employees. It goes beyond company picnics, fishing trips, and holiday parties (although those can help relieve stress). It means they are generous about providing training; they aren’t afraid to let their employees keep learning. They respect their decisions in the field, and give them the opportunity to resolve problems in their customers’ best interests. They make it possible for their field staff to walk in local supermarkets in ease because they don’t feel compelled to hide out in another aisle if they see a customer.

Don’t put it off. Enter your company in the contest today at You will be glad you did.

Publication date:10/12/2009