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Attracting and Retaining Construction Workers in Today's Labor Shortage

posted by TrueNorth Risk Management on Tuesday, July 19, 2022

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Regardless of company size or industry, employers are struggling to attract and retain quality workers.

With the construction industry expected to continue to grow in 2022 and beyond, construction companies and contractors face a labor shortage and struggle to find workers to meet industry demands.

Consider these general tips:

Expand Recruitment Tactics

Employers can consider the best methods for reaching suitable candidates and growing their candidate pool. As the construction industry looks to recruit a new generation—specifically millennials and Generation Z—new recruitment tactics can be successful. In addition, construction employers can consider ways to grow their applicant pipeline by considering underrepresented groups in the industry. According to the BLS, women make up around 10% of workers in the construction industry, trailing most other key sectors. However, this creates an opportunity to increase talent pools in this expanding industry. There’s no single approach, but employers could try using social media, attending job fairs or presenting at high schools, trade or technical schools and universities to target key and new talent markets. Recruitment tactics that worked in the past likely won’t be as impactful in today’s market.

Invest in Training Opportunities

Employers can provide learning and development opportunities to both long-term and new employees to address looming skill gaps left behind by retired workers. After all, the construction industry requires workers to have specialized skills, and the work comes with a variety of safety hazards. Learning opportunities may be a way to recruit young employees and help them build a career in the construction industry. Here are a few examples of learning and development opportunities:

  • Employee training can focus on specialized skills, new technology or safety-related topics. It’s essential to identify any skills gaps left by retirement. The rework rate is a major concern for construction projects, and proper training can help businesses avoid such costly circumstances.
    • Hands-on training can be the most engaging since employees actively participate and may remember their experience better. As soon as new technology is available or used on a site, employers could allow all workers to interact with and practice using it. This will also help supervisors understand if there’s a learning gap with devices or software so they can pivot to correct mistakes before they happen on-site.
    • Virtual training can help employees learn about health and safety regulations quickly and safely. Safety is critical in the construction industry. On-demand virtual training allows employees to test their skills and knowledge and retake lessons as needed to become familiar and comfortable with safety rules and standards.
    • Simulated training, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), can provide hands-on training without endangering workers. Employees can use VR to learn how to operate remote-controlled heavy equipment without damaging equipment and other materials or worker injuries. Additionally, employers could use AR to allow teams to learn how to repair equipment or other critical mechanical components.
  • Mentoring plans can prepare newer employees for future leadership roles and support the transfer of institutional knowledge from seasoned employees.
  • Leadership development programs can also help prepare employees for management roles. The transition to supervising can be a significant change for many.

The internal promotion of skilled trade positions to managerial roles can also strengthen employee morale and provide clear career paths. Many managers who have or will be retiring may have started in an entry-level or junior position. Such employees understand the work and what it takes to be successful on the job—and they often can be great managers and leaders for the business. Besides offering such opportunities, it’s equally important to promote them during recruitment and leverage them as a selling point to workers.

Review Compensation and Benefits Strategies

Regardless of the line of work, employees are looking for competitive salaries and benefits. If raises or sign-on bonuses aren’t feasible, a benefits package could help seal the deal for some workers. Disability and life insurance can go a long way in showing that companies care about construction employees’ health and well-being. To assist with employee retainment, employers could consider ways—such as health and wellness programs—to help employees in their work and personal lives.

Provide Autonomy

Work autonomy means giving employees the freedom to work in a way that suits them. As such, employees get to decide how and when their work should be done. This type of workplace flexibility can go a long way with workers as the construction industry is generally very rigid and comes with high levels of problem-solving. As feasible, construction employers could look for ways to minimize micromanagement and focus on policies instead of processes. Job autonomy builds trust with employees because it gives them the freedom to manage their work and helps them find purpose in their day-to-day work. Furthermore, autonomy could help encourage mastery as well. Workers who are newer to the industry may feel like a master of their work sooner, which bolsters confidence and accountability. In today’s labor market, accountability and autonomy can be a winning combination to attract and retain skilled workers.

Attracting and retaining construction workers has never been easy. Still, the problem has only worsened during the pandemic because of factors such as highly-skilled workers retiring or reconsidering their line of work. As industry growth outpaces talent availability, employers will need to get creative with their efforts to compete in today’s tight labor market.

Reach out to us for more attraction and retention guidance.

This publication has been prepared by TrueNorth Companies, L.C. and is intended for informational purposes only. Transmission of this publication is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a client relationship with TrueNorth Companies, L.C. This publication does not constitute any type of representation or warranty, and does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice. This publication is not a contract and does not amend, modify or change any insurance policy you may have with an insurance carrier. © 2022 TrueNorth Companies, L.C. All rights reserved.

Tags: construction

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