This story was originally published in Remodeling.

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How do you attract and retain workers in a tight labor market? While salary and bonuses receive a lot of attention as solutions, the way to find and keep workers isn't always about money. The culture and structure of your business can sometimes be just as important to retention as compensation. David Keebler, the production manager for Harth Builders in Spring House, Penn., says a "ladder of opportunity" can help give employees a roadmap for growth and make your company more attractive for labor.

Build the Steps
"Guys today are looking for how they can get up the ladder faster," Keebler said on a recent episode of the Tim Faller Show, a Remodelers Advantage podcast dedicated to the production side of remodeling. "And if you don't have a roadmap for them, they may not be attracted to come to your company."

Keebler developed a growth ladder for members of his production team at Harth, allowing those hired to see the potential growth in the company and the steps needed to move up the ladder. Keebler said he met with his project managers and lead carpenters and asked them what skills they wanted to see from certain positions on the production team in order to put the ladder together.

Keebler then filtered the information from his project managers and lead carpenters into checklists providing details on what was needed to advance to a higher position in the company and an expected timeline for advancement.

"I gave myself one month to do this. I gave my project managers and leads time to get the information to me, so it took me about three weeks to get all the data," Keebler said. "Then it took me about a week of intermittent time working and putting it together."

Keebler said while the task may seem daunting, once time is devoted to putting together a similar document, it isn't too difficult. Invovling project managers and lead carpenters in the process can be beneficial as well, getting key team member insights on what they are looking for in members of the team.

Tangible Results
The ladder of opportunity is shown to all interviewees with Harth, Keebler said, and helps temper misguided expectations as well as bickering in the field. If everyone follows the ladder and understands the steps, then members of the team are kept in check and there is more certainty in why certain members of the team have the positions they do.

Keebler said his leads and project managers report to him on the progress of team members and this information, coupled with information he collects in mid-year review meetings with employees, is used to physically check off achievements on the growth ladder. Keebler said the growth ladder is extremely helpful on both the lower and higher end of the production teams as it gives tangible goals for them to strive towards.

Keebler said having the ladder has paid dividends both in company morale and in efficiency.

"I review my job cost reports weekly, and I've seen better job cost reports as a result of this [program]," Keebler said. "Our labor numbers are often the hardest to estimate, but we're becoming more efficient in what we do."

Keebler said companies who install a similar ladder for employees can reap the benefits of less aggravation of complaining in the field as well as becoming a more attractive company for prospective employees. adders of opportunity of paths to progression can help workers see the big picture and will make them more likely to want to work for a company that helps them reach their long-term goals.

Click here to listen to more Tim Faller Show podcast episodes.

This story was originally published in Remodeling.