The Associated General Contractors of America released a survey recently stating 80% of construction companies can’t find the workers they need. This is not surprising as labor has been a top concern for several years. There are many factors contributing to the labor shortage, however, one of the most concerning is the lack of interest among younger generations to join the skilled labor force.
Building a construction company built for tomorrow will depend on tapping into new labor markets and creating work environments that are exciting and attractive to younger generations. Construction companies have a long way to go until there are robot workers available so for the short term we have to use what technology is available to help get us through. Here are 3 ways technology will help meet the challenges of a limited and changing workforce.
1. Become a place people want to work
Millennials are characterized as instant gratification seekers, but aren’t we all? The internet has changed expectations in a that we can have what we want in a click of a button. Forcing manual processes on the younger generation does not align with their view of the world, and if you want to attract and retain the best performers entering the workforce, you need to provide that experience for them during the job search, application process, on boarding, and daily work life. Being first to respond to a top applicant may be just the thing needed to land that new hire away from your competitor. Equally important is providing the tools to your employees that allow them to engage with the company on their terms. Younger generations have grown up with amazing technology yet construction companies lag other industries in adoption of new technology. It’s not surprising to see the new labor market is looking elsewhere for opportunities.
2. As Labor cost rises, look for savings in other areas
The labor shortage affects more than just keeping a job on schedule. The same AGC report mentioned earlier also indicates 44% of construction companies are experiencing increased costs and those costs are being added to bids and contracts. Some of the cost increases can be attributed to increased base pay and incentive pay for craft workers. Often we find that the increased cost in one area can be offset in labor savings in other areas. Look for areas of friction that slow down the pace of work. Perhaps it is in a manual change order process and activity is delayed while waiting on approvals. Or in the misallocation of resources and coordinating suppliers and subcontractors. We might not have robots that can perform the same work as the skilled trades (yet), but software can improve communication, coordination, and efficiency in plenty of areas.
3. Risk mitigation, compliance, and loss prevention
Keeping job costs under control is always a challenge because there are factors outside your control that can affect costs, but it’s the internal mistakes and oversights that result in fines, rework, or worse, a lawsuit, that really sting. Today we can collect data that will help us manage and view many aspects of your business. We can ensure cranes keep moving because we know all certifications are current and proactively track and remind individuals when recertification is required. We can ensure foremen and subcontractors are collaborating on the same documents/plans, and ensure proper safety inspections are complete and timely, and should an incident occur, we can quickly respond with the proper procedures collecting data all along the way.
To discuss how technology can help you retain top talent, schedule a call with Russell for a no obligation consultation.