Labor shortage is one of the construction industry’s biggest challenges today, but this situation is clearly nothing new. The scarcity of skilled workers has always been a problem, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, aging employees, and other factors. It’s a hurdle that has caused slow growth and decreasing profitability in many construction companies in the U.S. and beyond. As a result, businesses are implementing various innovative strategies to attract and retain talent during this difficult time. 

What is a Labor Shortage?

Labor shortage happens when there aren’t enough staff to fill the roles companies are hiring for. As economies and markets go back to pre-pandemic levels, they are preparing for yet another challenge, that is, to address this ongoing crisis.  

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, construction companies already saw growing vacancies but fewer applicants and qualified candidates. There are more than 11 million job openings in the U.S., but only 6.5 million construction workers are listed as unemployed

These staffing shortfalls have many root causes. Some are short-term issues, while others fall within the business’ organizational and structural design.

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How Bad is Labor Shortage in Construction?

Lack of skilled workers in construction can lead to inflation, rising wages, supply chain issues, and delayed projects. In early 2020, before the pandemic took effect, the U.S. construction industry hired approximately 7.6 million workers. Employment has gotten back to the pre-pandemic levels as of April 2022, with 7.628 million people in the workforce. However, job openings remain high, and there aren’t enough people to work on the projects. 

How to Mitigate Labor Shortage in Construction

1. Attract Young Professionals

Construction employees are getting older as the years progress, and there aren’t enough newcomers to replace them. Therefore, attracting new talents who can potentially build long, stable careers in the industry is essential. Simply posting vacancies on social media platforms won’t work. Implement effective strategies to attract young talents, including women and minority groups

Today, more and more younger people prefer to pursue a bachelor’s degree instead of a vocational program and trade school opportunities. So make your company an excellent place for young workers to grow and shine. Apart from offering competitive wages, gym membership reimbursements, and other benefits, create a strong company culture that nurtures good leadership and a safe, positive work environment. 

Cultivate inclusivity and diversity in the workplace. A more diverse workforce allows for more ideas and perspectives that can progress the business. It also promotes a positive reputation and marketplace awareness, encouraging more applicants to apply and get to know your company more.

2. Invest in Your Employees

Once you have them, learn how to keep them. Encouraging people to stay in your company is a long process that usually involves training and workforce development. Invest in your employees’ growth and enjoy your business’ long-term success. You can also develop a strong work ethic among your team through training sessions, helping them become more productive and motivated.

Physical endurance, communication, and time management skills are also necessary for a smooth day-to-day workflow. The more they learn, the more they can make meaningful, long-term contributions to your company. 

You can require them to pass industry-specific certifications and learn safety procedures, depending on the tasks they’ll perform. For example, they become qualified for monthly bonuses as they complete more training and certification levels. 

Retain core talent by offering training courses and multiple advancement opportunities to new and existing employees. Regarding construction safety, however, newer and younger workers need special guidance, as they pose a greater risk for injury than experienced staff members.

3. Embrace Technology and Automation

Once you have them, learn how to keep them. Encouraging people to stay in your company is a long process that usually involves training and workforce development. Invest in your employees’ growth and enjoy your business’ long-term success. You can also develop a strong work ethic among your team through training sessions, helping them become more productive and motivated.

Physical endurance, communication, and time management skills are also necessary for a smooth day-to-day workflow. The more they learn, the more they can make meaningful, long-term contributions to your company. 

You can require them to pass industry-specific certifications and learn safety procedures, depending on the tasks they’ll perform. For example, they become qualified for monthly bonuses as they complete more training and certification levels. 

Retain core talent by offering training courses and multiple advancement opportunities to new and existing employees. Regarding construction safety, however, newer and younger workers need special guidance, as they pose a greater risk for injury than experienced staff members.

4. Review and Manage Hours

Construction company employees usually work in multiple job locations, so monitoring their hours, wages, and pay cycle can be difficult. Tracking these details can be easily streamlined with the help of time-tracking software. However, if you’re constantly paying workers overtime wages, then it’s time to reevaluate the workflow.

Monitoring hours is one thing. Making sure that those hours are put to good use is another. In addition to using digital tools and systems, see how you can improve your team’s time management approaches. Implement conscious time frames around different activities. 

Set performance targets that work. Provide bonuses to employees who succeed in reducing return trips, get a job completed before the deadline, or gain positive customer reviews. 

Overtime work is sometimes necessary but can result in losses. It won’t only reduce profits, but it can also take a toll on the health and productivity of your workers. Determine the issues, improve work allocation and maximize team efficiency to eliminate unnecessary overtime.

5. Network and Connect with Industry Partners

Building good professional relationships is critical to business growth and development. From digital marketing to attending industry related-events, networking can put your business on the map and have access to people who can make meaningful contributions to your company. 

Since strategic networking remains one of the best ways to boost your reputation, constantly meeting new people can lead to new projects and referrals. Get involved in conferences, career fairs and expos. At these events, you can meet recruiters and other professionals who can connect you with potential job candidates and clients.

Find New Construction Workers to Improve Productivity This 2023

This labor shortage is changing the way construction businesses operate. As long as you execute new ways to pique the interest of potential workers and organize stronger teams, there is always room for growth. It’s time for businesses to look for more innovative solutions and implement changes as soon as possible to avoid falling productivity and project delays in the forthcoming years.

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