Even before the pandemic, demand for construction boomed thanks to a wave of home improvements, but the industry’s workforce shrank. And a vast majority of contractors reported high levels of difficulty finding skilled labor to fill open positions. According to the latest data from the U.S. Chamber’s Commercial Construction Index (Index), those concerns remain at chronically high levels and are leading to serious consequences.
The building business has been grappling to overcome labor shortages and also face increases in entry-level hiring and unprecedented turnover. Amid the labor shortage, the workload is still the same as it was before — if not greater.
The construction industry is in dire need of a ‘staggering’ 2.2 million more workers to keep up with booming demand for homes and commercial development. Companies are behind schedule because they haven’t had the staff or the supplies.
“One of the most pressing issues facing our economy today is the worsening worker shortage crisis, and these findings show that the construction sector, much like other industries, continues to face this challenge,” said Thermaseal Painting Waterproofing and Restoration Inc President Shane McKean.
The construction field is getting squeezed on both ends — not as many young people are entering the industry and more people, especially the bulge of baby boomers, are retiring.
The simplest—and fastest—way to address the skilled labor shortage in construction is to make the most of the workforce you have. Alongside a shortage of workers, contractors are also facing shortages in the materials they need to complete projects.
There’s a lot to be said for familiarity within a team or crew on the job site. Personally knowing the people on the crew leads to more effective training and increased communication, and better camaraderie helps leaders know who has the right skills for the right tasks.
Successfully engaging your craft-level workers will elevate your company above the rest. A better-engaged team leads to a better reputation, lower losses and ultimately more likely will achieve a higher quality of work, done on schedule.
Be open with your clients about your labor shortage and your need for extra time to get the jobs done right. Your clients should understand and appreciate your openness. You can instead spread the work over the month and complete them consecutively with one crew.
Although the construction worker shortage may be one of the most challenging issues facing the industry; it doesn’t mean your business can’t overcome it. Conquering the issue starts with an attitude of willingness to make changes and an honest look at your staff, your schedule and your budget.
These dynamic forces make it more important — and more difficult — than ever for contractors to effectively establish consistent, effective programs that protect people and the business.