Navigating Construction Worker Shortages

Posted by John Cofini on Tue, Feb 22, 2022 @ 11:30 AM

Construction Worker ShortagesRecent supply-chain shortages have created a challenging labor market for the construction industry. Many companies are walking a fine line between meeting demand and maintaining a safe, positive work environment. Here’s an overview of the current state of the market, and how some construction companies are coping.

Current State of the Market

Over the course of the pandemic, a widening gap between demand and supply has caused great challenges in the construction industry. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), unfilled construction positions around the country rose to 410,000 in October 2021, up from 253,000 at the same time a year earlier.

According to ConstructionDive, contractors are struggling to retain older, more experienced employees and supervisors while also struggling to attract young workers to the field. Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day and according to Pew Research, the pace of Boomer retirements has accelerated since the pandemic. Meanwhile, a 2017 NAHB study found that only 3% of young adults they surveyed are interested in construction trades. That was before the pandemic and the onset of the Great Resignation!

As BuilderOnline.com reports, “The 63% of undecided young adults who indicated there was no or little chance they would consider a career in the trades no matter the pay were prodded about the reasons for their resoluteness. The two most common reasons are wanting a less physically demanding job (48%) and the belief that construction work is difficult (32%). They were then asked if there was any compensation level that might entice them to reconsider a career in the trades. For slightly more than 20%, that number is either $75,000 or $100,000, but for the plurality (43%), there is no amount of money that could make them give the trades a second thought.”

Positions are becoming increasingly difficult to fill and supervisors are asked to work longer hours to meet the demand. Some industry executives have had to step in to help on major projects.

Ideas to Help with Recruiting and Retention

Investing in proper training and recruitment strategies can be a critical factor for both retaining your existing workers and attracting new talent. Here are a few ways that construction companies are navigating the current market:

  • Focus on Gen Z: It’s important to recruit a younger generation of construction workers. Gen Z now makes up 20% of the current workforce and will continue to vital force for the future. Construction Executive provides ideas for attracting young talent.
  • Use Social Media and Tech: According to ForConstructionPros.com, using social media and implementing technology in your workplace processes will help engage a new generation of construction workers.
  • Get Creative with Benefits: Bolstering pay and employee benefits is also a smart move. Workers increasingly expect flexibility and time off to manage work-life balance. Employers are getting increasingly creative adding features such as pet insurance and mental health benefits to attract quality workers.
  • Consider Incentives and Referral Bonuses: This is a tactic that may be under-utilized in the construction industry. RoadDogjobs shares some ideas.
  • Never Stop Training: Continuously training new and existing employees is crucial. When deadlines are tight and workers are spread thin, accidents are more likely to occur. Establishing best practices and keeping an open line of communication with your employees is more important than ever.
  • Use Safety as a Retention Tool: Maintaining a safe work environment is critical to retaining existing employees and attracting new talent. Implementing safe work standards can help improve morale and reputation among your employees, suppliers and the community.

Keep Construction Insurance and Subcontractor Risk Transfer Paperwork Current

It’s easy to put construction insurance and risk management on the back burner when you’re busy dealing with all these labor challenges, but you shouldn’t. When you’re stretched thin, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of your commercial insurance and proper risk transfer to your subcontractors.

BNC’s construction insurance team can help. The BNC Subshield is a state-of-the-art proprietary certificate tracking and insurance verification system designed specifically for General Contractors, Developers and Real Estate Owners & Managers. Our advanced “Vendor Qualification” software system combined with our construction insurance and risk management experience provides clients with a service designed to significantly reduce your exposure to third party risk and help your firm properly vet your subcontractors.

Contact us to learn more.

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