As part our mission to provide the construction industry with the latest technologies and insights, we are sharing this post written for the zlien blog by Bob Drainville of Timesheet Mobile, a GPS-enabled time tracking and scheduling company that helps businesses manage their mobile workforce. Timesheet Mobile’s solutions are used by thousands of people worldwide, in industries as diverse as construction, transportation, healthcare and many others.
We’re barely into 2017, but this year has been full of cautious optimism for the construction industry. The new administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure proposal was positively received by business and industry leaders, who are looking to capitalize on the government’s plans to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.
Yet the biggest challenge that plagues the sector is the supply of skilled workers. The recession left a lingering effect on the workforce – between 2006-2011, the construction industry eliminated more than 40 percent of its workforce, equivalent to nearly 2.3 million jobs – and many workers haven’t returned since. A recent study by the National Association of Homebuilders found that there are 200,000 vacant positions.
Attracting and retaining top talent is challenging in any sector. In an industry as competitive as construction, here are five tips to help you navigate the labor shortage.
Expand your recruitment efforts
You’re not alone in the quest to find qualified workers – a recent survey from the Associated General Contractors of America found that two-thirds of contractors are in the same bind.
If you’ve exhausted the typical means to find workers – such as tapping into your network, or posting job ads – think about other avenues available in the industry. The Construction Recruiters Network, Aerotek and Building Team Solutions are companies that specialize in connecting employers in the construction industry to qualified workers.
Revisit your hiring and retention practices
A competitive labor market can result in higher employee churn, as workers have greater employment mobility opportunities. As an employer, you want to find not only the right talent, but also identify ways to keep them motivated and engaged to stay in your business.
It’s worth reviewing why people left the company previously, and whether there are any patterns to help improve your recruitment and retention efforts. Are people leaving for jobs with higher wages? If so, it’s a good time to look at your wages and salaries and compare them to the current standard. Have some people expressed problems with reporting to a particular foreman? Perhaps it’s a training opportunity to help him or her better manage the team.
Additionally, consider cross training workers, which not only provides people with broader skills, but also demonstrates that you value them and are willing to invest in them. That way, if an employee were to leave your company, it also doesn’t mean you’re left without that expertise once he or she walks out the door. Having upfront and open conversations with your workers will help to identify areas for improvement, and equip you with the insights to improve your policies.
Prioritize worker safety
Sadly, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that the construction industry has the second-highest suicide rate of all occupations, driven by the unstable nature of employment, which can result in financial and relationship issues and depression.
Prioritizing workers’ physical and emotional wellbeing is paramount to a positive working environment. Construction-related injuries are an ongoing issue that can take a heavy toll on the individual, and have a ripple effect in the costs involved from compensation payments, replacing the worker, and the impact on employee morale and your brand reputation. Engaging in open dialogue with your workers, building trusted relationships, and providing a clear path for advancement is key.
Additionally, geofencing systems are a popular technology used across various industries to ensure businesses get an immediate snapshot of who has punched in or out of a job site, which not only helps you manager your team and costs, but can also enhance safety in the field.
Review and manage hours
When you have workers operating in multiple job sites, it can be difficult to keep track of people’s hours and wages until the end of the week or pay cycle. However, if you’re constantly paying people for overtime hours worked, it may be a good time to evaluate your projects and how you are staffing them.
An automated time tracking and scheduling application will capture when people clock in and out of a shift or break, and provide notifications if someone hasn’t punched out, if overtime hours are being worked, and if the hours are running over budget. A cloud-based time tracking solution also seamlessly integrates with payroll, eliminating hours spent manually entering timesheet entries and the potential for human errors.
Armed with this information in real-time, you can more accurately manage your costs, conduct a deeper assessment of your workforce, identify any hiring gaps and maximize team efficiency.
The construction technology sector is booming, thanks to the emergence of specialized solutions such as collaboration software, design software, financial management tools and even drones and augmented reality hardware.
Gone are the days of paper-based processes to get the job done. Today, technologies such as zlien can vastly reduce the time to monitor and follow up on late payments. Drones are also surging in popularity as an alternative to human surveyors to track a site’s progress, helping construction companies more efficiently deploy resources and minimize project delays and costs.
If you’re struggling to hire skilled staff, it makes sense to prioritize your time so that you minimize the hours spent on administrative tasks to focus on more strategic company priorities. The benefits of automation are evident in the time and cost savings it delivers to your workers and business. By taking the time to step back from the daily minutiae, you’ll undoubtedly find ways where new processes and technologies can help you overcome the labor shortage.