Overcoming Labor Shortage In Construction With Workforce Management

There has been a skilled labor shortage in construction since the recession in 2008. While the COVID-19 pandemic saw a resurgence in construction projects, it has only added pressure to an industry already under strain.

There has been a skilled labor shortage in construction since the recession in 2008. While the COVID-19 pandemic saw a resurgence in construction projects, it has only added pressure to an industry already under strain. While it’s great that the phone is ringing off the hook with new jobs, construction firms are struggling to keep up with the demand. With skilled labor being necessary and managing your workforce a top priority, employers need to adjust their strategy to optimize this growth opportunity. Here’s how you can overcome the labor shortage in construction, utilizing workforce management to take your team to new heights.  

[Read more: 5 Critical Project Management Challenges for Linear Projects]

Why Is There a Labor Shortage in The Construction Industry?

Industries across the U.S. are facing unprecedented labor shortages, with employers growing more desperate by the day. In April 2021, job openings reached a remarkable 9.3 million, highlighting this growing concern with construction labor shortage statistics. What's interesting about recent labor statistics is the number of people voluntarily leaving their construction jobs. It has almost increased by five times in just one year. For decades, stagnant construction wages have been a problem, and the Coronavirus only highlighted that people were already underpaid.

Most states are taking drastic action by reducing unemployment benefits to encourage people to go back to work. As the world slowly gains control over the pandemic, employment rates must begin to rise.

2020 catapulted new industries into a labor crisis, and although the construction industry has been battling labor shortages for years, they have skyrocketed this year. New home construction and improvement have surged, and although the government shut down construction for a few months, it was quickly deemed an essential service. Despite this, the sector lost more than a million workers.

Skilled workers with decades of experience took the opportunity to retire, with limited qualified workers lined up behind them. There's a lack of interest in the craft trades from millennials and Generation Z meaning the influx of new talent continues to dwindle. It's challenging to fill vacant positions with the construction skilled labor shortage. 

We know the demand for construction has boomed. By understanding how to manage your construction workforce effectively, you can still make the most of the current climate. 

What is Workforce Management?

Workforce management includes five core components: data management, communication, people management, planning, and labor scheduling. Ultimately, it’s the process of strategically optimizing the productivity of your employees, allocating the right resources to the right tasks at the right time.

Workforce management allows you to meet job requirements, committing to accurate timelines with credible forecasts. Adjustments are real-time, allowing you to remain nimble in a complex environment. 

Five Strategies to Overcome The Construction Worker Shortage With Improved Workforce Management:

1. Invest in existing employees

Current employees know the company and the culture, they’re familiar with your business’ policies and procedures, and you’ve already invested in their onboarding. The reality is, new employees pose a greater risk for injury than seasoned construction professionals. Studies have shown a significant increase in injury rates with employees who have been on the job for less than one year.

It’s in your interest to build a team committed to the business as a whole, moving to new construction projects with you. Instead of facing the additional costs of onboarding and training programs for new employees, invest in the growth of your existing workforce. Offer opportunities to upskill, manage and cross-pollinate. You’ll only be cultivating a more substantial base for your team and business. 

2. Collaborate

Encourage an open stream of communication between all workers on the job site. By incorporating a single project management system, you’re able to simplify communication flows. You want to create an environment where communication is seamless, whether it’s junior employees or subcontractors.

You will undoubtedly work with various contractors, external or internal, who need to fit into your overarching schedule. You can do this quickly and effectively by incorporating the right software, so your team stays on top of things. Better yet, introduce a cloud-based project management platform that’s accessible from anywhere. That way, the communication flow is uninterrupted. Not only does this improve your productivity and output as a business, but it creates a better environment for your team. To alleviate the labor shortage in construction, collaboration is going to be key. 

3. Accurate forecasting

By introducing improved workforce management, you can accurately forecast resources, necessary equipment, and materials.  It allows you to take on jobs you can realistically handle, keeping tabs on your team’s actual capacity and allowing you to provide clients with accurate timelines.

Managing resources effectively is the best way to keep employees and clients happy despite the labor shortage in construction. 

4. Reduced downtime

By planning employee time efficiently, you can reduce downtime on job sites. Often, construction workers are left standing around waiting for someone else to finish a task before getting started. Using a solution like ALICE Technologies to optimize workforce utilization can lead to serious time savings on a project.

Accurate workforce management eliminates this frustration from an employee perspective while ensuring you’re optimizing the skills you have on hand. It’s a win-win for employees and employers. 

5. Reboot interest in the Construction Industry

While you can’t tackle this one alone, it’s essential to incorporate this into your overarching business strategy. Frame every new project as a piece of art, something new to tackle that’s interesting and unique. Bring back the love for this craft for new generations.

Modernize your working environment by embracing the construction technologies available to you. Encourage mentorship, sponsorship, and apprenticeship to continuously bring in new workers, exposing them to the industry and your progressive ways of working. 

Implement Workforce Management Today!

Tackling the labor shortage is a long-term battle for construction companies. There are no quick-fix solutions that will change everything overnight. But not all hope is lost. By introducing these sturdy workforce management strategies, you can combat work shortages piece by piece. Accepting the current scenario and utilizing available technology like those offered by ALICE can ensure business growth despite a depleted workforce. It’s about learning to work smarter with the resources you do have. Request a demo today!

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