For several years, labour shortage in construction has been industry’s one of the biggest challenges. Despite steady industry growth, companies are still struggling to fill key roles on the jobsite, and as a result, are at risk of missing out on jobs or extending project timelines. So, what is the reason for such a large labour shortage?
Construction managers in India complain about the difficulty of getting enough quality workers. Many skilled workers have fled to greener pastures like the Middle Eastern Gulf. Also, with those economies in slowdown mode, the sector is caught in labour market headwinds. The other reasons include:
– Industry Misconceptions One of the most significant factors is the industry’s image. Individuals coming into the workforce, or considering future careers are not attracted to the industry. Some common misconceptions include:
- Construction jobs are “dirty”
- The work requires “brute strength”
- Construction is a “job”, not a career
– Lack of Awareness Young workers considering their future career path are not always aware of the great opportunities available in the construction industry. Some of these include:
- Good pay
- Opportunities for advancement
- Ability to learn new skills on the job
– Aging Population and Competing Industries Many of those who grew up working in the industry are getting older and retiring, or they are leaving the industry for a less physical job. These workers are not being replaced nearly as quickly as they’re being lost. Many have left the industry over the years for various reasons.
Changing The Construction Industry’s Perception
Rather than resigning to accomplish less with fewer workers than you need, construction company leaders can take steps to overcome the construction labour shortage. The industry is resorting to some non-traditional practices to recruit and retain skilled talent. From offering higher pay and benefits to hiring full-time employees (rather than contractors), incentives to improve these jobs have been created. You can consider the following strategies for improving your labour pool:
- Make recruiting a year-round activity Do not wait until your busy season to start locating and hiring the skilled workers you need. If you cannot take the time from your already busy schedule to focus on recruiting, consider hiring a part-time employee with human resources experience. This employee can help create and maintain a recruitment process and keep your company’s name and interests in front of potential job candidates.
- Offer financial incentives for employee loyalty Your current employees likely have other options for employment, so it is important to provide them with incentives to stay with your company. Think about offering a bonus to skilled labourers when a project is completed on time or under budget. While providing such financial incentives may cost you a small percentage of the job’s project, it will help keep productive workers coming back and save you money on recruiting new workers.
- Provide adequate training for your workers Today’s workers want opportunities to continue learning and growing professionally, and by offering training, you can keep them engaged. Providing training is a win-win strategy. It results in more highly qualified employees for your business, and it also extends goodwill back to these employees; they will feel valued because of the time and money you invested in them.
- Make sure your business is in top working order The best workers will be most attracted to the companies that appear to value them. Make sure you have all your ducks in a row, such as establishing a strong workers’ compensation policy, providing training, and using proper safety equipment. These efforts will ensure you can fulfil the needs of customers and keep performing at the top level.
- Attract and retain workers by promoting safety While construction companies often have programs in place for on-site worker safety, there’s room to promote safety on the road. Reducing accidents enroute to job sites creates an all-around safer company. By creating a safer workplace, you show your workers that you care about their health and well-being and that you respect them as people, not just employees.
- Curb increasing job costs through fleet right-sizing With fewer workers, av a i l a b l e p ro j e c t s a re taking longer to complete, which increases costs for construction companies. By maximizing your fleets’ utilization, you have an opportunity to make up for these lengthy, costly jobs. This begins with rightsizing, which ensures that you have the right number of vehicles and assets you need to successfully run your business.
- Improve productivity with preventative maintenance Having assets and vehicles constantly in and out of shops not only cuts into your profits but also reduces productivity. As job lengths grow due to fewer workers, every vehicle and piece of equipment plays a critical role in helping you complete more projects on time. By automating your current preventive maintenance schedules, you cut down on machine downtime, which increases the productivity of your workforce and helps reduce job length. And when navigating a labour shortage, increasing productivity can make up for having a smaller number of employees.
Move Past The Obstacle
Rather than feeling stressed by the skilled labour shortage, owners of construction companies should start taking appropriate action. With these strategies, you will start overcoming the construction labour shortage now and into the future. Moreover, this will help to have an edge over the competitors in the market.
By Amrita Batra