It’s tough to find skilled construction workers these days, especially when the unemployment rate is at historic lows. Many competing contractors are willing to spend top dollar to keep their crews fully staffed with experienced personnel.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 263,000 construction job openings in June 2018, a reflection of the more experienced workers who are retiring and the fewer younger workers available to take their place. Here are some helpful ways to recruit and retain construction workers amid the ongoing labor shortage:
Engage candidates at a younger age
Be proactive by reaching out to prospects who are still in junior high and high school. Offering summer jobs, internships or scholarships are great ways to give kids a taste of the construction industry.
Local colleges are another great resource. Career days and job fairs provide excellent opportunities to seek out new workers. It’s all about staying visible to the younger individuals in your community.
Promote competitive pay, benefits, hours and culture
It might be worth it to revisit the compensation you’re offering employees. How does it compare to what other companies are offering? Here are some of the standard benefits provided by many employers today:
- Paid vacation
- Family leave
- Medical insurance
- Wellness programs
Understandably, many employees are looking for more hours to make money. If you can give them that, you’ll be their top choice. Additionally, it’s important to promote a positive and safe work culture. Essentially, you want to try and be known as the place to work.
Additionally, as much as you’ve probably heard it lately, give your employees a sense of purpose. The work you do is literally shaping the world, so portray it in that way. Homes, schools, businesses, infrastructure – it all matters. Now, help your employees understand that.
Training is both beneficial to the company and employee. Providing training shows both parties have an interest in the employee’s professional growth.
The new generation of workers also cares about continuous learning, so it’s important to keep them engaged. Let them attend seminars and job-shadow experienced employees. Experienced employees can mentor new workers and be good role models who honestly believe in their potential.
Of course, there’s always going to be the risk that the employee you just trained might eventually move on to another employer, but in this age of fewer workers, it’s worth the risk.
Provide advancement opportunities
It’s important to offer career-pathing for your workers because it’s common for people to want to advance in their careers. Work with your personnel to help them reach their career goals.
You can also help them identify mentors, timelines, milestones and training opportunities as part of their advancement. If you help workers create a career map, they’ll be more likely to show loyalty toward your business.
Assisting your workers with their career goals shows your commitment to them, making them more inclined to stay with you. It’s natural for people to want to earn their way to supervisory roles.
Keep your eye out for workers during downtime
Ironically, one of the best times to seek qualified employees is when you don’t need any. As mentioned earlier, it’s about being proactive. When you’re at the height of a busy season, you might be tempted to hire absolutely anyone to get the job done. However, if you focus your efforts at an earlier time – when things aren’t as busy – you can be more selective and increase your productivity by giving yourself time to attract ideal candidates.
Make sure you’re utilizing technology that’s on par with the modern construction site. As the workforce gets younger, technology becomes more important.
The use of smartphones and tablets on the construction site gives you an advantage, especially with Millennials and Generation Z.
It’s also important to leverage the power of social media to highlight your expertise, project history and culture. This is key to attracting new and enthusiastic workers to the construction industry. Use the digital realm to create emotional connections for your business.
Find skilled construction workers by asking these key questions
Here are some of the first questions you should ask when seeking skilled workers:
- What particular skills are you looking?
- Have you made your expectations clear?
- What kind of educational background are you interested in?
- Does the candidate fit in well with your company culture?
- Do your candidate’s goals align with yours?