New year, but the same prevailing problem in the construction industry – labor shortage.
If your company is experiencing a shortfall in construction labor or having challenges finding skilled and qualified workers, you are not alone. In spite of how fast the construction industry is growing, the flow of new manpower has been slow as ever. Firms struggle to fill out important roles in various projects, which results in extending committed project timelines or, worse, missing out on potential great projects.
Today’s difficult manpower shortage has multiple causes, from the aging workforce to the younger generation’s indifference to the industry, pandemic restrictions to salary variance in other industries, and so forth. But whatever the reason may be, the result is the same: there are not enough workers to fill the jobs currently available in the industry, and there are not enough workers to fill the jobs expected to open up in the years ahead.
Even though the labor shortage seems like an unsolvable problem in the construction industry, practical solutions can be adapted to combat them, especially with the right construction workforce management. People in construction are natural problem solvers, and the labor shortage is just one of many issues we take on every day.
But before we proceed with the solutions, let’s first look the pressing problem straight in the eye.
How is Labor Shortage Affecting the Construction Landscape Today?
1. Low-Quality Workmanship
With less manpower comes greater pressure on quality and deadlines, which could lead to missed workmanship checks and bad performance. The construction industry is a risky business by itself. Trying to do it with fewer crew members is asking for trouble since team members naturally double-check each other’s work and keep everyone accountable. Moreover, workers may feel too pressured to complete a job because of time constraints and expectations from the client. A project site with so much work but with so little manpower is doomed for failure.
2. Extension in Project Timeline
In the construction industry, we know that time is money. A simple movement in the timeline can cause drastic damage to the project. This might be the most expected effect of labor shortage, but also the most crucial one. Having less manpower means more time for a project to wrap up, which puts a project to risk of delay that can stretch for days, weeks, or even years. A construction project with a skeleton crew can finish work that can be completed by a full team in half the total time. The construction time tracking feature of management software is an effective way of measuring the time needed to finish a specific task, which is essential to avoid any delays.
3. Demand for Higher Wage Caused by Inflation
Global inflation and supply chain problems have caused increased material prices. The skyrocketing rise in prices takes a huge toll on construction companies. It also doesn’t help that material showing huge increases in cost are the most essential in projects, such as gypsum materials and ready-mix concrete that are used in building walls.
Not only are the building materials getting more costly, but so is the workers’ cost of living. With the rise of food and rental prices, workers also demand higher wages. Moreover, some workers are exploring other industries that, with wages that, can better sustain their lifestyle.
4. Construction Safety Issues
A lenient quality control in a construction site can lead to unsafe working conditions. Workers are forced to overexert themselves due to tight deadlines, which can lead to potential injuries. Overlooked safety precautions might lead to industrial processes if checked incorrectly and infrequently.
Moreover, companies are responsible for regularly checking their workers’ safety and training regarding the policies that must be implemented to minimize risk during operations.
It’s also important to renew their certifications regularly. A forklift operator, for instance, must renew their license if they’re in a near miss or an accident. Plus, they must renew it consistently every three years, no matter how good they drive. On-going training is not only good for safety but also for recruiting new workers into the construction industry.
5. Embracing Innovation and Technology
Known as one of the world’s oldest industries, it is a surprise that the construction industry is now dipping its toes into innovation to combat the rise in a labor shortage. Investors are pouring more money into construction startups. While the labor-saving new solutions haven’t completely caught up with the high worker demands, it’s a hopeful option for the construction industry.
Modular construction — such as prefabrication — allows construction firms to build homes faster, move them to the proposed location and then construct them on the site itself. Equipment can also perform automated tasks like paving roads and laying bricks, working alongside construction teams to complete jobs before the deadline.
New software in the market can automate construction task management to help workers perform their tasks by having all the needed details beforehand. It’s easy to perform tasks once the what and when are decided beforehand.
8 Ways to Manage the Labor Shortfall in Construction Industry
1. Attract the Younger Generation
Construction companies must partner with local schools and universities to convince the younger generation that construction is a career worth pursuing. This company-school partnership will lead to opportunities for exposure at career events, appearing on the school’s career websites, speaking in front of classrooms, and many other benefits. By engaging with local high schools and colleges, construction companies will be able to get young adults to think about a career in construction before they make up their career path before graduation.
2. Offer Apprenticeship Programs
This lack of apprenticeships has led to a lesser-skilled young workforce in the industry. Suppose construction companies are going to offer apprenticeships. In that case, it might not only attract the younger generation, but it would also be a head-start for new workers to hone their skill sets so that they can become highly skilled construction workers later in their construction careers.
3. Hire an Employment Agency for Efficient Hiring Process
We all know that hiring is a very time-consuming task, and it can be very challenging too. For a more efficient hiring process, consider hiring a specialized employment agency to do all the heavy lifting to hire new staff. This also allows for more time to ensure you’re developing your current staff while potential candidates are screened accordingly and your hiring process runs smoother.
If you can’t hire an employment agency, you can make it known on social media that you are hiring. Try listing open positions on job boards or social media business platforms like LinkedIn. Lastly, embrace word-of-mouth and let your existing staff know you’re hiring. You can offer financial incentives for employees who can bring in successful candidates.
4. Provide Competitive Wages and Benefits
Employee benefits packages are one of the most crucial aspects that employees consider when choosing a company. It can also determine very early on whether workers will stay for good. Employees will be more inclined to notice what is important in your business culture and strengthen your construction workforce management by providing the following. Make sure these employee benefits stand out:
- Paid time off (Sick Leaves)
- Vacation Benefits
- Good health insurance
- Competitive basic wages
- Financial assistance for education
- Complimentary services and discounts to employees and their families
- Company events to boost morale, build relationships, and foster collaboration
In specific cities, there are labor shortages of qualified, skilled workers due to the high demand for the construction industry currently. In addition to providing higher benefits, offer incentives such as flexible working hours to get people through the door.
5. Collaborate and Partner with Other Companies
Construction and other business are becoming more and more competitive, and this shows that collaborating with other businesses may be a smart and necessary strategy. Various subcontractors can come together to sign contracts with businesses, for instance, if one general contractor needs more workers and another has free space in their schedule—helping both parties. Also, consider offering a good compensation package to borrow workers with specific skillset from other companies.
6. Ensure that Your Subcontractors are Embracing Technology
Some trade schools and colleges now offer classes in construction technologies in their curriculum. These advanced programs can help young workers tap into jobs on larger projects by offering training (e.g., software design, power tools, and equipment automation). While these classes often require a high educational commitment, the skills gained can improve overall productivity while boosting their career and job fulfillment.
7. Embrace Construction Software Technology
As the construction industry becomes more tech-centered, companies constantly develop advanced ways to improve processes and make life easier for their construction crew. Pro Crew Schedule, a construction management software, provides a construction crew scheduling feature that helps track your employees’ productivity, tasks for the day, and so much more. Construction inventory management is also more accurate with a digital feature that tracks your company asset, so you don’t have to.
Pro Crew Schedule’s cloud-based project management tool was designed specifically for construction made by a contractor, giving you a real-time view and account of your workers.