As they are with many industries, talent acquisition and retention are critical to a construction company’s success. At the same time, construction firms often need their people to apply their knowledge, skills, and experience across many projects, often on a daily basis.
To attract and retain the best available talent, Clark Construction, a 4,200-employee builder with offices and job sites across the U.S., sets itself apart from other firms in the types and levels of responsibility it offers its people. It also seeks to align the skills of all employees with their career aspirations to ensure their professional growth.
“We aim to provide a consistently great user experience for our employees from their first day with us through each project, no matter where they’re working.”Chris Jordan Vice President of Talent Acquisition and HR Information Systems Clark Construction
In addition, the company strives to give its talent the tools and flexibility to perform their best every day. The majority of them must be highly mobile, too—out in the field on different projects some days and in the office or working remotely on others. Their effectiveness depends on fast, easy access to applications, data, and each other.
We spoke with Senior Vice President and CIO Dave Golden and Vice President of Talent Acquisition and HR Information Systems Chris Jordan about the importance of mobility to company performance, as well as to staffing and retention.
As U.S. construction rebounds, what are some key hurdles you’re facing today?
Golden: One of the biggest hurdles is the availability and rising prices of materials. We have to stay price-competitive, so everyone’s efficiency and productivity across our entire organization are critical. Also, finding the talent we need where we need—locally, if possible—is a big one. Then, cybersecurity threats are a constant concern combined with potential corporate data loss.
Jordan: The demand for talent in construction is high these days, which makes filling positions extremely competitive. To help differentiate ourselves while also attracting and retaining skilled people, we aim to provide a consistently great user experience for our employees from their first day with us through each project, no matter where they’re working. Workday helps us do that.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, your company had already moved most of its IT to the cloud, including your Workday deployment. What drove that decision initially, and how did Workday help you adapt to last year’s abrupt changes?
Golden: Our legacy HRIS platform required a lot of manual steps and had no mobile capability whatsoever. That was a problem because, as is typical of construction, our workforce is widely spread across the U.S. on commercial and residential projects, stadiums, underground tunnels—you name it. So, securely moving our applications to the cloud greatly minimizes previously required computing infrastructure and allows our construction project teams faster access to required technology tools. Workday being cloud-native checked an important box for us.
Jordan: When we had to incorporate more remote work during the pandemic, our workforce mobility was already in place and compliance wasn’t an issue. Employees use Apple iPhones and iPads as our standard-issue client end points, so with Workday being cloud-native, they could access its features and data from home just as if they were on a job site. For projects still underway at that time, we provided additional health and safety guidance. In some cases, employees successfully relocated, helping us realize that jobs could be filled by candidates outside our usual hiring regions.
Your due diligence in evaluating Workday was extensive. What attracted you to it, and what guidance can you offer your industry colleagues?
Golden: In addition to being cloud-native and mobile supportive, Workday is easy to use and device agnostic. The ease of use of any app, especially such a core one, is crucial. After all, we need our employees to spend their time doing work, not training on apps. While we found its capital expenditures avoidance and SaaS subscription-based pricing attractive, Workday also had to be able to integrate easily with our other core systems, whether our ERP or data warehouse, which it did. We also had a top IT research firm conduct an independent evaluation that came back quite positive. Finally, we spoke to Workday references both inside and outside of our industry, who gave us a lot of insight into their deployments. They not only helped validate our Workday choice, but also helped us form a game plan for our deployment.
Jordan: Another important part of our evaluation was including all the functional groups who would be using Workday the most. For each group, we developed specific use cases to run through with Workday so they could see how it would work for them. We took their feedback seriously and shared it with Workday. Ultimately, HR and IT facilitated the evaluation, but our users drove the decision. It was a business-led initiative that involved our operations, finance, accounting, and other core business teams that would use it every day and work with it for years to come. Additionally, including these stakeholders from the start helped accelerate their adoption of Workday.
“Securely moving our applications to the cloud greatly minimizes previously required computing infrastructure and allows our construction project teams faster access to required technology tools.”Dave Golden Senior Vice President and CIO Clark Construction
What’s the outlook for your company, and how will you use Workday to help you get there?
Golden: One of our company’s big differentiators is innovation. We're always innovating, always reengineering, and always trying to improve our teams’ productivity, as well as that of our company as a whole. We foster a culture of integrity. Workday has that culture and mindset, too. As our strategic partner, they’re always there for us, sharing a sense of urgency to resolve issues and get things done, often thinking outside the box to help us meet our needs.
Jordan: Just today, we were asking ourselves, “How do we leverage the technology we already have to better facilitate employees moving across our organization—from project to project and assignment to assignment? And how do we align their talent profiles and career aspirations, not only with available openings but also with positions we know will open in the future?" There’s a huge opportunity to improve how we use Workday to accomplish that skills-based matchmaking.