Finding qualified workers is a challenge for many companies today, especially those in the building and construction industries. Even the best construction companies to work for are having trouble keeping roles filled.
According to research by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 92% of contractors said they’ve had difficulty finding construction workers. Of those, 42% said they have turned down work because of the worker shortage.
Construction workforce challenges don’t end there. The median age of workers in the construction industry is 41, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Construction companies must find new young talent to replace these workers or face even further workforce constraints.
Tackling Workforce Challenges
It’s not all bad news for the building industry. For example, the expansion of clean energy and energy efficiency tax credits is creating business for companies expanding into that arena. But to seize new opportunities, construction companies will need to hire and retain more workers. That requires investing in recruiting, networking and training. It also requires creating and maintaining an attractive workplace.
Here’s how to become a great construction company to work for and how to tell others about the workplace culture benefits you offer.
Invest in Construction Workplace Diversity
The building and construction industry has lagged behind when it comes to creating a more diverse workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, men still dominated the industry in 2021; it noted only 9.9% of construction professionals were women. In addition, 6.2% of construction industry workers were Black, and 2% were Asian.
Changing these statistics will take intention and, in some cases, a shift in workplace culture, including:
- Ensuring all company leaders, from the CEO to site managers, all buy-in to creating a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace.
- Putting your diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies into action. That means looking at existing policies and processes to make sure they align with your company’s DEI values.
- Work on seeking out a diverse workforce through creative recruiting and hiring incentives.
- Tackle issues of workplace harassment and bullying head on. If you want to retain talented workers you must ensure they feel welcome.
Retain Workers With Professional Development
One way to address your need for managers is to promote from within. Traditionally, the building and construction industries have offered lots of opportunities to climb the ladder with hard work, however, these advancements don’t always come with leadership instruction.
Being a good leader requires different skills than being a good worker. Often these roles come with additional responsibilities but no formal training. You can foster a healthier workplace environment and set up future leaders for success by offering on-site mentoring, leadership training and professional development.
While there is typically a focus on professional growth on job sites–certification and safety training for example–training future leaders could also include personal development such as building communication and collaboration skills. When you can foster an environment for conversations about respect, conflict resolution and communication, it helps workers become better leaders in the future and creates a healthier workplace environment for everyone.
Be Open to Modern Workplace Expectations
Covid-19 created a massive shift in the way we do work. While working from home isn’t an option for the building industry, there were other changes that have shifted expectations of today’s workers.
For many young people, there are other jobs in their area that pay as much as construction jobs and offer more flexibility. Being open minded to different workplace ideas, such as flex scheduling and other perks today’s workers look for, can make you a standout employer, if it works for you.
One company that’s made the adjustment is Shawmut, which operates across the country. They offer all employees flex scheduling, which includes a compressed work week, shifting work hours and seasonal work.
Consider meeting with your local young professional’s organization to learn more about what people expect, what other companies are offering and how you can appeal to younger workers. You can also send out an employee satisfaction survey to gather anonymous feedback to really understand what your workers want.
These efforts may seem out of the norm for the trades, but considering different perspectives and embracing new ideas will ultimately help you by making you more attractive to younger workers.
Tell People You’re a Great Place to Work
One way to attract talented, hardworking workers is to let them know you’re a better place to work than the next guy.
- Show you appreciate their talents by showing your workers and successful projects on social media.
- Create blog posts commending individuals or teams that have gone above and beyond.
- Make benefits and perks a focus of your careers page.
- Give shoutouts to your workers who do good in your community, whether it’s running a coat drive or coaching a local Little League team.
- Post video worker testimonials on social media, giving a first-hand perspective on what working for you is really like.
- If video isn’t possible, use photos of workers or testimonial quotes in a graphic to add variety and a personal touch to social media feeds.
A great example of this is Mirra construction based on Georgetown, Massachusetts. On their Careers page, they highlight benefits and culture, including leadership training and apprenticeship opportunities. Elsewhere on the site, you’ll find images of workers engaged in the community. It’s clear from the website this company isn’t just a place to punch a clock.
Using the images and voices of the people who work for you gives you credibility and authenticity. This resonates with job seekers, especially younger people, and will help set your company apart in the job hunting process.