One prevailing issue today is the need for more workers across all industries. And when it comes to construction, labor shortage can cause projects to take longer to finish, problems with quality control, higher builder risk costs, and more. Your workers are your most essential resources – they can make or break the project’s success.
As a result, people are increasingly needed to work in the construction industry. There are already problems with projects, businesses are having trouble, and insurance claims are increasing because of this shortage. You will need to find and keep workers who can handle the complexities and demands of the current economy.
As contractors try to reduce the additional risk they are taking by agreeing to deliver a project in an uncertain labor market, it is becoming more essential to lessen the harmful effects of the skilled labor shortage because it is the cause of other problems that can affect your company’s future in the long run. In this article, let us examine why construction labor is short in supply, its effects, and how the industry can bounce back.
Why There is a Shortage of Construction Workers
Economic factors like the ever-increasing demand for single-family and multi-family homes, federal and state spending on infrastructure, and the need for commercial and industrial space are some of the reasons why the construction industry needs more labor. The need for more skilled trade workers is made worse by the number of construction projects that must be completed within tight deadlines. They may only be able to work on a few projects, each with limited time to finish because of limited supplies or materials.
Uncertainty about the economy and health may make people decide not to work in the industry. Some construction firms may only have to deal with a few of these problems. At the same time, other workforces have to deal with many issues at once. In this section, let us examine some reasons for the labor shortage.
The Great Resignation
People had to rethink their priorities – many have shifted their focus to happiness, health, and working in a good environment. This has led many unhappy workers worldwide to quit their jobs, and many people who worked in construction also left their jobs earlier than usual.
Many construction professionals are starting to retire, but we need more people to take their place. However, fewer and fewer young professionals want to work in the construction industry due to the number of responsibilities and higher workload that it demands.
Other Industries Have Higher Pay
Currently, many industries, such as transportation and warehousing, have started offering higher pay, making people leave the construction field. The problem with construction is that the wages have stayed the same to keep up with rising prices. With the heavy workload and minimal pay, it is no surprise that people have started switching industries.
What Are the Effects of Labor Shortage in the Industry?
Safety concerns, costs increase, and building takes longer when there are not enough workers. So, what does that mean for clients and contractors?
Since fewer people are working on construction, projects are taking much longer than expected – which can significantly impact your schedules and budget. An activity usually finished in a few days will take weeks if you only have a skeleton crew. Construction jobs can last months or even years, depending on the scope of work.
With fewer workers, more pressure could cause quality checks to be skipped and performance to drop. You might try various strategies to finish the work on time, only to discover that these shortcuts may compromise quality. Trying to build something without a whole crew is asking for trouble since each piece has its skills and expertise. Also, workers may need more time to finish a job.
When there is insufficient control over the quality, people can overwork themselves and hurt themselves. Accidents at work can also happen when safety checks still need to be done.
To reduce risk, general contractors and project managers must often remind workers about safety and training policies. It is also essential that they regularly renew their certifications. Continuous training and providing safety seminars are excellent ways to keep workers safe.
Steadily Rising Costs
Material prices have gone through the roof because of inflation and problems in the supply chain. Many construction companies were hurt by the price hike – as a result, the wages have stayed the same to cope with the increase.
Materials already cost more for the contractor – and at the same time, many employers feel pressured to raise wages to attract new workers and make up for the skyrocketing costs of food and rent.
How The Construction Industry Can Manage the Impacts of Labor Shortage
More people are leaving the construction industry than are entering it due to the low pay, heavy workload, and safety concerns. The labor shortage will not go away soon – it is up to general contractors and project managers to think of strategies to help retain workers and hire new ones.
You can do so by employing an efficient construction workforce management system to help you properly handle your crew. You can focus on increasing employee engagement and retention by giving new hires training opportunities, improving current workers’ skills, or retraining employees to take on new roles. In this section, let us look at some strategies that can help you manage the impacts of labor shortage.
Make the Construction
Industry More Appealing
Vocational and trade schools need to be more appealing to young people today. The construction industry must focus on connecting with the community around job sites, and construction companies must help young people see that working for them is a way to build a career.
Create a Healthy Work Culture
Make your workplace where everyone feels happy, safe, and at home. It would help if you aimed for diversity in your crew – the benefit of multiple perspectives and voices is that more people and ideas can help a company develop new ideas. Making your employees feel that their suggestions and opinion are valid can help them take responsibility for their tasks. You can share praise from customers and suppliers and reward employees who show the company’s best qualities.
Invest in Your Employee’s Skills and Development
Companies need to show their workers that they value them. Invest in training and workforce development to improve performance and job satisfaction. Training enhances safety and productivity, attracts, and keeps employees, and gives employees and employers an edge. You can employ a sound construction crew scheduling system to know when to schedule training.
Utilize Construction Technologies
Modular construction, like 3D printing, lets building companies build homes ahead of time, move them to the right place, and then build them there. Machines can also do physical work, such as laying bricks and paving roads, and they can work with construction crews to finish jobs faster.
Building software, such as construction inventory management software, can automate how you can run your project. This makes the building process safer, more efficient, and more productive.
Focus on Digitalization
Technology can also help reduce the effects of the labor shortage. Construction technology startups are creating tools to help buildings get built with fewer trained workers. For example, you can use construction task management software to assign tasks and ensure that each worker is not overloaded.
There is a strong case for the construction sector to look into advanced digital technology to keep up with other industries, attract a new generation of talent, and get the most out of the current workforce. Not only do these solutions improve collaboration and efficiency, but they will also appeal to a younger generation of tech-savvy people who expect to have these tools.
Put an Efficient System in Place
When experienced workers leave, it makes sense to hire new ones. But people with less skill and experience are likelier to get hurt on the job. At the same time, skilled and experienced workers can do more with less help and work longer hours, even though they are more stressed and tired. The construction industry is prone to injuries and safety concerns, so it makes sense to prioritize safety above else.
General contractors and project managers should review their current risk control and training programs and ensure workers do their jobs safely. Safety training, job site assessments, and pretask planning are all things to think about if you want to reduce the risks that come with a less experienced and busier labor force.
Pay Close Attention to Quality Control
Staffing shortages can put companies in a tough spot – limiting the number of contracts they can take on simultaneously. Contractors may have to rush to meet deadlines, which can cause them to make more mistakes or take longer than usual. The company could be sued for construction defects, liability, or builder’s risk in that case.
Quality control of the people and materials has never been more critical. Companies should know how they and their partners share risks and do pre-task planning and assessments at the job site so the quality of the project will not be compromised.