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Hiring for lean construction management.
Despite being a more than trillion-dollar industry, construction suffers from skill shortages at all levels. Whether you’re a general contractor or a subcontractor, these days no one is immune to the problem. There just aren’t the number of trained workers coming out to fill field or back-office needs.
This year, in the wake of COVID, hiring challenges subcontractors have faced for decades reached crisis levels. As a result, the industry has seen rising wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, production and non-supervisory employees saw a 6.3 percent wage increase in May 2022 over the previous year — the highest in 40 years. This puts an extraordinarily tight squeeze on already slim profits.
Labor isn’t the only thing hitting subcontractors hard this year. Supply chain shortages, inflation, and the war in Ukraine all factor in. In fact, the industry is expected to see costs climb 14.1 percent in 2022, according to a report from commercial real estate services and investment company CBRE.
With costs rising it is more crucial than ever to maintain a lean construction management operation. Companies need to hire the right skilled and unskilled labor. But getting the help needed for back office and logistics support can be just as important. In this article, we look at a few ways to do that.
Hiring and Retaining the Right People (and who they are)
It’s tough for subcontractors to find the very best people.
First things first, who are the people you need to fill your roster?
Field team — Your field team consists of your foreman and trade workers. The work they do can be backbreaking in most trades. In an era of work-life balance, showing your team you value their roles can help attract and keep talent. Demonstrating that you’ve invested in tools to make their jobs easier is essential in the hiring process. This is where technology can play a key role. Simplifying field processes, reducing paperwork, and eliminating redundancy will have a big impact.
Office team — Keeping everything running behind the scenes are your accounting and office staff. Your office manager is the essential glue that holds these teams together and can’t be overlooked. They need the skills (and tools) to collaborate, multitask and effectively connect other team members.
Management — Your project managers and superintendents are key members of your team. Depending on size and scope of your business, the owner himself may need to roll up his sleeves. You may also have an on-staff estimator, or a third party you outsource to. All need to be in the loop and connected to ongoing projects.
Partners and extended team — Things don’t get built in a vacuum and when building a lean team, you should consider the partners you work with. These are people you work with to enhance your team or cover off on gaps.
Don’t overlook the opportunity for your suppliers to be real partners. They can help you operate leaner but also expand your network.
(For more information on roles in construction, and how project management helps them check out our blog on Construction Roles on the Jobsite.)
Tips to improve hiring for lean construction management
If you want to fill those essential roles, you need to market yourself to potential employees. Here are a few essential ways to do that:
Show what you do: Record an on-site video presenting work you’re proud of and post that online alongside your job ad. Remember to include LinkedIn and your own website and social media to find top talent.
Consider an online survey: You don’t need a lengthy application process to find the best candidates. A survey with a few quick questions may be all you need to find the right people to move to an interview. Ask about the person’s experience in construction or roles with other subcontractors.
Interview based on skills and value: At the interview, consider the worker’s character and goals. Use your insights and be mindful of retention to select the best employees. Lead with your values.
- Employees today, especially Millennials and younger workers, want to connect to the values of the company they work for.
Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Work-life balance is more important to them than any of the previous generations. They also want to work for companies that align with their own internal values, and seek purpose in their job.
In your job ads and during the interview, lead with the principles of your company: honesty, quality, commitment, etc. If you can connect those values to environmental sustainability, equity, and diversity in hiring and a community-oriented mindset, all the better.
Back to school
Get ’em early and train them to be great. Building strong relationships with trade schools is key to this. Owners and other business leaders should meet with faculty at local trade schools. Talk about employee skills and what’s valued by your company.
Don’t discount job fairs. Start to create interest in the trades as early as high school. Remember, the solution for today’s skills shortage is more skilled workers. Decisions about career paths don’t start in college and apprenticeship.
Look to your network of partners with which you have a good rapport.
Technology wins hires
The new generation of workers were born and raised on technology. Many have come to expect more consistent communications, and an ability to collaborate more effectively using digital tools.
Highlight the role technology plays in your company. Illustrate how it makes working there easier and more exciting. The right technology tools let workers concentrate on their jobs rather than repetitive tasks. Show them they’ll be able to focus on higher value tasks instead of redundant ones.
Don’t underestimate how important an investment in technology is to new hires. By 2025 millennials are likely to make up 75 percent of the workforce. They grew up with technology and look for companies that have tools they consider essential. At the same time, outdated technology can put off new hires.
And of course, technology isn’t just a differentiator in your hiring and retention, it can also help you operate lean.
Back-office support for lean construction management
The right technology and systems are key to operating lean.
Your technology partners should be there supporting you behind the scenes. Rely on them to provide training, and expertise around their tools. With proper support from them, you can focus on getting more with less, which means fewer hires and a leaner team.
Choose solutions tailored to the business of subcontractors and experienced in helping them. That way you can focus on what you love: building.
Want to find out how eSUB can help you connect your field and back-office teams to operate lean? Contact us for a consultation today.