A recent survey found that 93% of construction firms have open positions to fill, and 91% reported difficulty filling at least some of those positions.1 Or in the words of one construction industry trade association executive director, “I don’t know of a single commercial construction company that’s not hiring.”2
The labor shortage is a reality, and it is crippling the productivity of many construction firms as they bleed money attempting to keep projects moving forward for their clients as promised while lacking sufficient human resources. The good news is construction technology can help you with your people operations in ways you may not have thought about before.
At ToolWatch, we’ve been fortunate to see how thousands of construction companies operate, and we’d like to share a few ways we’ve witnessed technology helping construction companies attract and retain their best employees.
1. Make Your Employee’s Lives Easier (with technology)
Before you think about attracting new talent, you first need to ensure your existing employees feel valued and happy in their roles. Afterall, you have already paid the cost to recruit and train your employees, and because they are familiar with your processes and expectations, they are capable of being more productive than any new recruit will be initially.
So how can you make your existing employees feel more valued and satisfied with their employer? Invest in them by purchasing technology that makes their work lives easier. Look for solutions that assist with difficult, complex tasks to make them easier and automate simple, repeatable ones to reduce frustration and burnout. Talk with your field, warehouse, and office teams to determine which tasks cause the most headaches and which result in the most process waste. Then research solutions that will meet your company’s objectives and make your team members’ jobs easier.
As an example of a web-based solution, the ToolWatch jobsite portal empowers field teams to (a) track and locate their tools and equipment in real-time, and (b) source any additional assets needed to get the job done—all through one easy-to-use app. Your company makes a substantial investment to procure the assets that will power productivity. Put those tools and equipment to work by reducing the time spent processing pick tickets and waiting for assets to be transferred to the correct jobsite.
With more efficient technology, employees are not only more satisfied with their work, they are also more productive. And that means more projects completed on time and within budget. Productivity equals profitability, and when your company is more profitable, it can offer bonuses, raises, and other compensation to retain talent. With a larger portfolio of truly successful projects, your company will also consistently land more and bigger projects, avoiding the boom and bust cycles that keep you from retaining workers on a full-time basis.
This brings us full-circle to recruitment. With your own house in order, word will soon spread that you are a forward-thinking construction company with great projects, compensation, and support for your employees’ needs. Workers will actively seek employment with your company. Employees will refer their friends to join the company (which you can also supplement with a referral program). And you can also message your success and job satisfaction in recruiting efforts to attract top talent.
2. Make Employee Health and Safety a Priority
Employee health and safety can be a life and death matter in construction, and there are many reasons to prioritize your employees well-being beyond the obvious one, to save lives. Strong safety records also help construction companies stay in business, avoid costly fines and penalties. And last but not least, there is an opportunity to show your employees you value their well-being, which creates loyalty within your company and a reputation outside your organization that will attract top talent.
But building a culture around employee health and safety is not easy, and it must be genuine. Fortunately, technology can help. It can make safety trainings, inspections, compliance, and reporting easy for your employees by living on the smartphone they carry everywhere. Safety solutions can help your organization appeal to younger employees who have grown up with technology solutions. And most importantly, safety technology can help companies improve employees’ mental and physical well-being.
With today’s tightening workforce, employees work more hours and are under increased pressure to get the job done safely and in a timely fashion. When the pressure becomes overbearing, it can lead to stress for some individuals, which studies have shown will negatively impact their health. Pressure and overwork can also lead to avoidable accidents. A strong safety culture keeps employees safe and ensures they feel appreciated and valued, which combats stress and improves your safety record. Ultimately, this increases the productivity of the organization, which has a positive impact on financials as well as overall employee satisfaction and morale.
Every construction company is made of its people first and foremost, and everyone wants to go home to their family at the end of the day. When your employees feel that their lives and livelihoods are a priority to you, they are more likely to stay with your company long-term.
3. Deploy and Improve Systems that Reduce Labor Needs
Part of the solution to your labor shortages is likely to require less labor. Technology adoption in the construction industry has jumped in recent years with the goal of improving quality, efficiency and productivity. However, the unfortunate truth about technology in virtually every industry is that most business solutions go underutilized, with companies only taking advantage of a fraction of the value they pay for while missing out on the efficiency and productivity from other unused functionality.
Earlier, we talked about using technology to fully automate some processes and make others easier. In some cases, with the right technology, certain tasks can be completed by fewer workers in less time. We recommend you start by taking a close look at your existing technology solutions and identifying those that can do more than what you use them for today, and opportunities to integrate systems to reduce double-entry, minimize human error, improve accuracy, and decrease rework.
For example, by integrating your accounting/ERP system with your tool and equipment management system, you can automate much of your job costing and billing efforts while also improving accuracy. This saves both time on both upfront data entry and rework due to human error. The result is that fewer employees can support more projects due to improved operational efficiency.
Technology has and will continue to shape the construction industry, and with a new generation of digital-native workers rising through the workforce, technology plays a part in your people strategy. If you’d like to learn how ToolWatch solutions enable our customers to retain and attract top talent, visit ToolWatch.com and Safety-Reports.com for more information and to schedule a demo.
1. Construction workforce shortages risk undermining infrastructure projects as most contractors struggle to fill open positions. Construction Workforce Shortages Risk Undermining Infrastructure Projects As Most Contractors Struggle To Fill Open Positions | Associated General Contractors of America. (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2022, from https://www.agc.org/news/2022/08/31/construction-workforce-shortages-risk-undermining-infrastructure-projects-most-contractors-struggle-0
2. Welsh-huggins, A. (2022, August 22). Wanted: 7,000 construction workers for Intel Chip Plants. AP NEWS. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from https://apnews.com/article/intel-ohio-construction-workers-f5b7b4a083eb3142870a9654f43b438b
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