VEC Exec Suggests 7 Ways to Engage Your Workforce

By Gina Pastella

GIRARD, Ohio – We’ve become a disciplined, process-driven organization at VEC Inc. as we’ve transitioned from a small company to a more corporate environment with a national reach.

With that, we’ve placed an emphasis on recruiting and retaining the right talent for our organization. We’ve found over time that our employees are the best referral sources for workers who fit our culture, and then it’s up to the human resources team and hiring supervisors to match the skill sets.

We know we have the right people when we’re confident they have the skills to do the job, embrace the values of our faith/family/community culture, are driven and motivated to succeed, and have the people skills to build relationships. We’re in a service industry, so having the ability to develop relationships, both internally and externally, is critical.

But getting people in the door to join our team is just the first step. The real difference an organization can make for long-term success is by retaining these highly talented individuals. We do it the following ways:

  • Develop their careers. We offer growth opportunities at VEC to continually develop team members’ technical and leadership skills, including “leadership academies” for emerging leaders among job-site and managerial positions.
  • Show them you care. Family comes first at VEC. We feel that when you take care of your team members so they can take care of their families, then everything else in the workplace falls into place.
  • Live up to your company culture. We describe our culture as our values in action. It’s common for our employees to travel across the country doing construction projects, and spouses and children are sometimes left at home for long periods. Through our “VEC Care Program” we make sure we help families when they need something; like snow removal, lawn care or even assistance with babysitting when necessary. It’s something family would do for each other no questions asked, and as a work family we’re no different.
  • Celebrate their accomplishments. Not only on a team member level, but on our website we mark the accomplishments of our employees’ families, underscoring that element of our corporate culture.
  • Encourage them to give back. Sometimes we do things as a team in the community, but many individuals in our company have their own ways of giving back to the community. We encourage that, and one way is through a fund we set up that matches employee contributions and awards grants to meet community needs, primarily ones involving children and education. We also provide eight hours of paid philanthropy time per year to allow our team members to volunteer with organizations of their choice.
  • Train from within. As part of VEC University, we tap our own internal subject matter experts to lead continuing education training sessions in areas where they’re experts. We’ve found that everyone has knowledge to share that benefits others in the organization. We also bring in outside instructors when appropriate.
  • Don’t ignore the soft skills. It’s not commonly associated with construction companies, but training on the softer business skills such as accountability and communication are vital to our business relationships, so we include these as part of employee development efforts.

As we continue to grow our business and take on larger construction projects, we’re making a conscious effort to maintain this employee recruitment and retention model. It’s served us well to this point and we attribute much of our success to it.

The author, Gina Pastella, is executive vice president, operations at VEC Inc.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.