Ways to retain employees during a labor shortage in the construction industry
To overcome the labor shortage in the construction industry, having a focus on employee retention and creating strategies to maintain your current workforce is paramount.
While the number of available construction projects continues to increase, a recent survey from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) found that 91% of construction firms are having issues finding and hiring employees.
Being short staffed can reduce production and increase costs, so the entire industry is feeling the effect.
“Construction workforce shortages are severe and having a significant impact on construction firms of all types, all sizes and all labor arrangements” said AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. “These workforce shortages are compounding the challenges firms are having with supply chain disruptions that are inflating the cost of construction materials and making delivery schedules and product availability uncertain.”
Creating a quality environment for employees can help you get the most out of your current workforce and make sure that they stick around. While compensation is important to people, there are other ways to create a compelling workplace that employees want to remain a part of.
Identify employee engagement
One of the most important ways to retain quality employees is to keep them engaged. In Reno, Nev., Aspen Earthworks Inc. takes a proactive approach to engaging with its staff.
“We recognize our employees on a weekly if not bi-weekly portion,” said Aspen Earthworks President Ryan Dustin. “The employees get their recognition sent throughout the company. Not only are we recognizing them, but it also serves as a model and benchmark for other employees.”
Invest in your employees
From benefits to leadership development and training, showing that you want to take care of your employees and help them grow is an important aspect in internal retention to overcome labor shortages in the construction industry.
“You need to make sure to offer all the benefit packages you can,” said Dustin. “My company is 6 years old, but we offer 401(k), retirement and all insurances. We offer a competitive wage for the market, and we treat our people well. We know that our core foundation is our people. We respect that and continue to move forward with the same amount of respect as we started from day one.”
Aside from benefits, programs that develop leadership skills for in-house employees show a commitment to the staff that can pay dividends by creating positive leaders that aid in employee retention.
Plus, applicable training programs develop employees’ skill sets, broaden their knowledge, and keep the workplace from feeling stagnant.
“One thing that we are doing here at Blue Mountain to retain employees is to cross-train,” said Richard Stringham, Plant Manager at Blue Mountain Minerals in Columbia, Calif.
“There are those that come to work and just want to do one job, and that’s fine. We need those people. There are those that want to move up and around. I need those people as well, so my focus in the last 18 months that I’ve been here has been cross-training. They want new skills, and I appreciate them wanting new skills. I can use them after hours on weekends in jobs that they don’t do all week, so it’s something different for them. It’s a two-way street that we provide the best job and environment for them to work in.”
Find the right employees
It’s important to think about how you can retain a potential employee during the hiring process. For companies like C.A.S.E. Construction Inc., which is based in Edinburgh, Ind., the strategy has been to prioritize character over experience when hiring.
“If we have the right people, then the company will always find work,” said Jesse Smith, Vice President of C.A.S.E Construction. “They don’t need to have the knowledge right now, but they need the character we’re looking for.”
That character was found in operator Jesse Walker, who began his career working in diesel engine testing in Columbus, Ind. For him, excavating was a side business, and he mostly did smaller landscaping jobs. However, he decided to make it his full-time profession with C.A.S.E. Construction.
“I was brought in as a younger guy to learn from the ground up and create a foundation for the future of this company that I can be a part of,” said Walker.
Bringing people into your company with adjacent experience can allow you to quickly reskill or upskill them, so they can do jobs safely and with a level of expertise.
Finding new employees by appealing to new demographics can also yield great results. With the majority of the construction industry being white and male, according to a McKinsey & Company report, there are a lot of different demographics companies can still reach. Only 11% of the country’s construction workforce consists of women, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“It’s absolutely an untapped market,” said Brian Turmail, Senior Executive Director of Public Affairs for AGC, in an interview with CBS News. “We are fighting workforce shortages with one hand tied behind our back.”
Since beginning a digital outreach program this year to attract women to the industry, AGC has received tens of thousands of applications from women interested in pursuing a career in construction.
Lastly, it’s crucial to include and inform the younger generations because they are the future. You can appeal to students through recruiting programs that also engage with parents and guidance counselors. Show teenagers and young adults that the construction industry is a viable career option that can be just as rewarding as a four-year university degree. By developing relationships and connections with prospective members of your team, you can yield a new pipeline of employees for your company and combat the labor shortage in the construction industry.
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt. Access the full article here: https://www.komatsu.com/blog/2022/employee-retention-in-the-construction-industry/.