Supply chain disruptions and delayed projects are not the only things hindering the growth of the construction industry. The Home Builders Institute cites “a lack of skilled construction labor” as the key limiting factor to the industry’s growth. They report that the construction industry needs 61,000 new workers per month over the next three years to meet demand — a staggering 2.2 million workers from 2022 through 2024.
With a surplus of work to be done and a shortage of workers to do it, how can you attract and retain laborers amid today’s tough market conditions?
Hiring Talent During a Labor Shortage
- Think Like a Marketer: You want your business to be a place where people want to work, a place workers choose over other businesses. Promote your company culture, pay and benefits, career growth opportunities, anything that you think sets your business apart from your construction competitors. In the tight labor market, employees are the ones with the power to choose — it is vital that you appeal to them.
- Connect with Local Organizations: Even when you do not need people, it is wise to have feelers out in the community. Partner with local trade schools, community colleges, or construction associations to help find future employees. Build brand awareness among potential future hires so that you maintain consistent visibility. Take the offensive.
- Don’t Shy Away from Technology: Nowadays, prospective applicants are not paging through the newspaper searching for a job. Make sure that you have a strong and visible digital presence, including LinkedIn and a personal website. Not only should you use the internet as a place to post available positions, but also as a location for singing the praises of your company. Additionally, consider using software systems to streamline HR processes, including recruitment and onboarding.
- Broaden the Scope of Your Recruiting Efforts: The Department of Labor estimates that nearly 90 percent of those employed by the construction industry are white, and only 11 percent are women. Biden’s infrastructure bill includes funding for workforce training and several organizations, including Power UP and JumpStart, are already working to bring underrepresented groups into construction. Opening the construction industry to more people would increase the pool of possible recruits. In your own hiring process, be sure to keep an open mind and include groups you normally wouldn’t in your recruiting efforts.
- Create an Employee Referral Program: Incentivize your employees to refer qualified candidates for jobs by offering bonuses or rewards. Not only are employee referral programs cost effective and a low time commitment, referred hires tend to perform better and last longer than their non-referred counterparts.
- Embrace the Interview: While you might think shortening your hiring process is the way to go, the interview is a step you do not want to rush. Workers who stay are ultimately workers who fit with you and your company on a personal level. Be thoughtful and considerate in the interview process. Try to honestly get to know the potential employee and make sure they know what you are looking for, make sure you are good fits for each other.
Just as the origins of the labor shortage are complex, so are the solutions. As an individual employer, you can only do your best to mitigate the effects of the labor shortage on your business. Showcase what makes your business a special place to work and look for talent in unexpected places. Be thoughtful and considerate, and don’t be afraid to step outside of the box.