Even as the nation continues to struggle with high unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, construction firms are still grappling with the ongoing labor shortage and recruitment shortfall. Over 80% of construction firms are having difficulty filling salaried and hourly craft positions.1 This leads to firms asking employees to work longer hours, struggling to meet deadlines, facing higher costs for new work, and turning down new projects.2 The stress this puts on overworked employees subsequently harms retention rates. For every 1 worker who enters the workforce, it’s estimated that 5 skilled employees are retiring.3
It’s clear that construction has both recruitment and retention problems. So what can be done? Equipment Trader has collected 6 ideas for construction firms to improve the worker experience in order to boost retention and recruitment:
1. Offer Higher Pay
This is the obvious one, so we’ll mention it first. Construction jobs actually pay better than many people assume, as it’s important to pay according to the value a new employee would bring to the company. Firms need to make sure that their pay is competitive within the industry and that they are advertising that compensation to recruits. To boost both recruitment and retention, many companies are increasing their base and overtime pay. At the start of 2020, the average construction worker earned an hourly wage of $31.19, which is up 3% year-over-year.4
2. Enhance Insurance & Health Benefits
First things first, if you’re somehow not already offering insurance coverage and health benefits, doing so will immediately and dramatically improve your recruitment and retention efforts. If you do already offer such benefits, look for ways you might improve them for your workers in order to compete with other firms in the industry. An increasingly popular option is to extend benefits beyond just the construction season, which is hugely attractive to workers.
3. Emphasize Safety
According to the National Safety Council,
- 58% of construction workers think safety comes second to productivity and job completion,
- 51% think management does only the minimum required by law to keep employees safe,
- and 47% feel afraid to report job safety issues.5
If you want to attract and retain workers, you need to ensure those statistics are not true of your firm. Keep your safety guidelines up-to-date and invest in safety training, the latest safety gear, and machinery equipped with fail-safe systems. Additionally, create an environment in which workers feel comfortable coming to you with safety concerns, knowing that you care about them and will promptly respond to safety issues.
4. Improve Worksite Conditions
Workers obviously spend most of their time on the worksite, which means that environment can significantly impact their job satisfaction. Worksite conditions can be physically improved by enhancing safety warnings and signage, making sure workers are offered sufficient breaks and have easy access to water, and giving workers the proper equipment and tools they need to get the job done safely and effectively. You can also improve workers’ experience on the worksite by offering essential training, providing clear direction and instructions, and establishing systems that allow for clear communication between coworkers and managers and guarantee clarity.
5. Establish Career Paths & Advancement
Many people wrongly assume that construction is a dead-end job that doesn’t develop into a full career. And at some firms it may be true, but it doesn’t have to be that way at your company. Attract and retain employees by establishing clear paths for career advancement within your company, including explicit projects and tasks for employees to demonstrate their value and growth, as well as opportunities for advanced skills training and certifications.
6. Acquire New Technology
Especially for younger generations, the opportunity to work with new technology is a big benefit of working in construction. Maybe your firm can’t afford cutting edge innovations in autonomous machinery or mixed-reality headsets, but other technology is increasingly accessible, including drones, 3D printers, and laser- and GPS-guided equipment. This year, 32% of construction companies plan on increasing their use of such labor saving equipment.6 Joining their ranks could not only benefit your business, but also make the job more exciting for your workers.
Whether you offer better pay and benefits, enhance safety and worksite conditions, or create exciting careers with advancement options, there are many ways to improve your workers’ experiences and ultimately boost your firm’s recruitment and retention efforts. And we want to hear from you! How does your company recruit and retain workers? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
Ethan Smith is a Content Curator for Trader Interactive, serving the commercial brands Commercial Truck Trader, Commercial Web Services, and Equipment Trader. Ethan believes in using accessible language to elevate conversations about industry topics relevant to commercial dealers and their buyers.