For several months now, the construction industry has been facing serious labour shortages that are threatening the futures of many businesses. There are countless theories on why the construction labour shortage has remained so persistent, including early retirement, low relative wages and fewer young people interested in entering the field.
Whatever the reason, the construction market is growing while the worker pool remains stagnant. To make matters worse, labor costs are increasing at an average rate of 4-5% annually, according to Anirban Basu, chief economist at the Associated Builders and Contractors.
Here’s the good news: with innovative thinking, construction companies can overcome this staffing set-back and continue to grow their businesses. Here are 5 ways you can attract and hold on to talent.
1. Use Innovative Technology to Get People Excited
Not too long ago, IT professionals were hired to fix your gadgets. You called on them when your email crashed or you lost a bunch of data and they always came through in a crisis. But today, as technology becomes embedded in nearly every aspect of our lives, IT executives and managers play an important role in strategizing about business.
Rachel Attebery is a technology analyst from the engineering firm Black and Veatch. In a CMiC webinar discussing the use of technology to attract the best construction talent, Attebery explains that “technology isn’t a supporting service anymore, it is a strategy for company growth.”
This outlook sees technology not as a hurdle to overcome, but as a powerful tool for innovation that should be embraced. Because retention is everything during a labour shortage, focussing on tech innovation is an important tactic for keeping employees happy. Most importantly, the latest technology is attractive to job candidates and firms that use construction software are usually more successful with hiring.
2. Make Employees’ Lives Easier with Construction Software
Another way to reduce employee turnover is to provide a hassle-free workday. The best way to do this is with unified construction software. There are many options when it comes to construction software, but ERP systems streamline data management and eliminate tedious tasks.
Instead of searching for project information across multiple apps and databases, teams have access to all the information they need in one place. This simplified data storage allows construction managers to access up-to-date, correct information whenever they need it. Employees that are given powerful software that’s tailored to their exact needs will feel empowered to do their very best, and this will lead to long-term job fulfillment.
3. Be Proactive About Attracting Talent
When it comes to recruiting, firms need to be proactive. Just because you have enough employees to handle your current workload doesn’t mean that staffing won’t be an issue in the future. Construction executives should always be on the lookout for new talent. A great way to create a pipeline of talent is to offer internships and co-op programs. You can also create a reward system for current employees when they refer job candidates.
Construction firms should also evaluate the job perks they offer employees. With less construction workers to go around, job candidates can afford to be choosy when searching for a new gig. Because of this, we’ve entered a new age of employee benefits. Here are some things that many job candidates are looking for:
- Flexible health benefits that allow employees to customize their plans.
- Health and wellness programs that focus on all aspects of an employee’s wellbeing.
- Competitive financial benefits like flexible spending accounts and retirement savings plans.
4. Expand Your Search to Other Industries
Workers from a variety of other industries have skills and experience that can be a huge asset in construction. Veterans for example, have the potential to provide a huge boost to the construction labour pool. In fact, last year Michelle Obama started Helmets to Hardhats, a program that helps vets return to civilian life by training them for careers in construction. Call of Duty Endowment, a non-profit organization that CMiC supports, also helps vets re-enter the job market. Veterans make great construction employees because they have experience taking initiative, conducting heavy physical labour and overcoming significant challenges.
5. Increase Connectivity for Better Retention
With employees scattered across offices and job sites, it’s difficult for construction leaders to build a cohesive, connected team. But building interpersonal bonds amongst employees is integral for creating a healthy company culture.
During the CMiC webinar, Rachel Attebery shared a new initiative that Black & Veatch created to build stronger internal connections. Built by internal developers, Workshare is a company-wide job board that lists various tasks that need to get done. Employees can access the job board and sign-up for tasks they’re interested in. The platform has been extremely successful because employees have been able to learn about different departments and areas of the company and create new relationships.
When people collaborate successfully, they feel part of something exciting and important. This is one of the reasons that CMiC has built an advanced project collaboration platform. In addition to optimized communication, CMiC Field allows project stakeholders to streamline workflows from the office to field. With real-time project collaboration, employees efficiencies grow, revenues amplify and employee satisfaction is raised. Software-based project collaboration fosters greater employee retention.
6. Get More Done with Less Labour
According to Recode, the construction industry is on the cusp of a robotic takeover. With technology advancing at exponential rates, there are a lot of products on the market that can help construction companies tackle staffing shortages. AI, drones and robotics all have the potential to reduce the number of workers required to complete construction tasks. Drones, for example, can scan and inspect large worksites quickly and easily. What might take 2-3 employees several hours, can now be completed in under 10 minutes by a single drone.
Similarly, construction software can help improve productivity and efficiency so that projects get done with less hands. A comprehensive collaboration tool built specifically for the construction industry is what you need: easily share and review blueprints, budgets, subcontractor profiles and other bits of crucial data in real time.
With advanced functions and integrated apps, you’ll get more done and keep projects on track and under budget.
Want to learn more about recruiting employees during the labour shortage? Download our webinar on attracting and retaining the best construction talent.