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4 Ways to Attract Skilled Workers

It’s hard to throw a stone in construction industry news without hitting a study about how many construction firms are struggling to fill their roles.

According to Associated Builders and Contractors, the industry added 315,000 net new jobs, an increase of 4.5 percent in the last 12 months. Nonresidential construction employment expanded by 18,600 net jobs on a monthly basis, while the residential sector added 4,400 net positions.

While this is good news, the outlook for filling those jobs is bleak. Of the 2,700 contractors, construction managers, builders and trade contractors surveyed in Commercial Construction Index during Q2 of 2018, 91 percent said they were having difficulty finding skilled workers. In other words: the jobs are there, but the volume of workers needed to complete them falls short. Naturally, this makes the emphasis on talent recruitment an important one.

Construction managers (as well as paint and coating application companies) are likely feeling the squeeze of a worker shortage. This shortage is hitting their jobsites hard and an influx of qualified workers isn’t necessarily on the horizon. Instead of hoping that a windfall of talent will drop into your lap, it’s time to get smarter about recruiting.

This is no time to be reactive; if construction managers want to fill empty roles, they must be proactive about reorganizing recruitment process and building a company that stands out in a crowd.

How to Recruit When Labor is Short

A labor shortage doesn’t mean contractors are bound for failure. It does, however, mean they’re due for a recruitment makeover. What they’re been doing won’t likely be enough moving forward. Skilled construction workers have the upper hand, and companies must compete with other employers for the most qualified talent in their areas.

Turn the labor shortage into an incentive to advance scouting techniques. What is implemented now will help the company moving forward, even if the labor shortage subsides and a new team of skilled workers show up.

Stepping up recruitment during the labor shortage means doing the following:

1. Hire diverse workers.

Construction has woefully low diversity in its workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says only 9 percent of construction workers are women. Many racial minorities are also underrepresented, and the hard truth is that an environment that lacks diversity is often a place where insensitive comments flourish—exacerbating the lack of diversity because women and/or minorities don’t feel comfortable.

The benefits of a diverse workplace are measurable and clear. When a team becomes more diverse, productivity goes up and turn over goes down. With more heads to put together and a wider array of perspectives at the table, new ideas crop up and are rewarded. In this time of worker shortage, contractors can’t afford to ignore the opportunities that abound in reaching out to a more diverse hiring pool.

2. Have a strong company culture.

With so few qualified construction workers on the market, employees have the pick of the litter. Now is a time to look inward and figure out how to make the company more appealing to prospects. Consider adding innovative benefits, continued learning opportunities and more streamlined communication tools to the company.

The bottom line is that all contractor have a company culture, whether they know it or not. Measure the company’s baseline via surveys and conversations with current staff to determine areas for improvement. When contractors create a company culture that fosters career growth and open communication, they will grow their reputation and attract skilled workers.

3. Support the HR team with the tools they need to get the job done.

Empower the HR team with the skills and tools they need to create a streamlined recruiting process. Is the HR team able to access the best talent? Can they easily track each candidate in the system and share notes internally? The HR team needs to respond to candidates promptly and be able to craft an attractive offer before the skilled prospect gets scooped up by another construction firm.

4. Build a brand that shows off.

Once companies have made the changes needed to attract the top talent in construction, what are they doing to showcase the company? Branding sounds like something that Silicon Valley tech companies should focus on but, in reality, every company hoping to attract top talent needs to think about how they are branded for potential employees. Review how the company looks from the outside: Is the website up to date? How are job listings worded? A company could be offering the most appealing job opening in the market, but if candidates can’t see what makes it special, the company still won’t attract top talent.

Fighting the worker shortage in construction is proving difficult for employers across the country. By making the positive changes needed to help the business stand out, contractors will be positioning themselves for success in years to come.

Four Ways to Beat the Skilled Worker Shortage

Written by Chris Lennon – Vice President of Product Management, BirdDogHR
Contact Info: clennon@birddoghr.com

Chris Lennon is responsible for ensuring the BirdDogHR Talent Management System meets the needs and exceeds the expectations of its customers. He has presented at numerous industry events and has been quoted as an industry expert in leading publications such as Talent Management magazine, CLO magazine, New Talent Times, TLNT and HR Bartender.


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