3 Creative Solutions to Labor Shortages in Commercial Construction
by Rebecca Hasulak, Marketing & PR, QuickFrames
Read any headline, and you’ll see something about the current labor shortages that have hit nearly every industry. With the nation’s “quit rate” reaching a 20-year high last November, talent acquisition has become strained, to say the least. In construction specifically, the situation is similar, with the industry needing more than half a million workers above its current pace of hiring in order to meet demand in 2022. Sounds pretty dismal, doesn’t it? Well, yes, but there’s hope. Whether you’re in metal fabrication or another area of the industry, here are a few creative ways to maximize construction labor.
1. Reskill Existing Team Members
Many business owners and project leaders focus on hiring more people during labor shortages, feeling the squeeze of being short-staffed and desperate to fill gaps. But, there’s no guarantee that you’ll find people who are both willing to work and qualified to do so. With this in mind, there’s actually another tactic that might solve your problems faster and be a better use of your time: reskilling your current staff.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you need to hire several more welders, but are having trouble finding any. Instead of searching for, recruiting, interviewing, onboarding and training new team members, start with the ones you already have. Maybe there are some folks who have expressed a desire to learn new skills, or some with fewer projects on their hands. Choose a few people on your staff who have proven to be loyal and productive employees, and reskill them. Pay for them to become trained welders, and then put their skills to use in-house.
While reskilling won’t solve every labor issue you have, it can go a long way in helping you maximize the resources you already have and help your team gain new skills, too.
2. Offload Select Projects
If you’re finding yourself short on people and high on projects, you know this equation isn’t sustainable. Instead of scrambling to make new hires in a labor-starved landscape, reevaluate the work you have in front of you. What are your most profitable projects? Least profitable? Revisiting this with fresh eyes can help you prioritize and make better decisions about what’s worth keeping on your employees’ plates and what could be sent elsewhere.
For instance, let’s say you’re in the field of metal fabrication. For many fabricators, welding frames for rooftop equipment supports aren’t very profitable. When a project manager realizes that they can use a product like QuickFrames for all of their roof frame needs instead, while saving shop time (and scarce labor) for the more profitable projects – it’s an easy decision. Make enough savvy decisions like this, and you can end up eliminating the need to hire more people all together.
3. Focus on Retention
Pew Research conducted a study to learn why so many U.S. workers were leaving their jobs during the “Great Resignation” of 2021, and their findings were enlightening. The main reasons cited by study participants were low pay and no opportunities for advancement, followed by feeling disrespected at work. This tells employers a lot, then, about how the converse can be equally powerful in encouraging team members to stay with you.
For one, make sure to evaluate employees’ wages at regular intervals to ensure they’re being paid fairly and given opportunities to earn more. Yes, employers are feeling the pain of inflation and increased costs, but remember your team members are too. Consider fair pay and raises to be an investment made into your company, which has the power to result in significant returns.
Second, create opportunities for advancement. In addition to reskilling workers like in the first point above, ask employees what their career goals are. Are you able to help a shop worker make a plan to move toward his goal of becoming a project manager? Even asking about aspirations can go a long way in showing you care about – and respect – your team.
There’s no quick fix to current labor shortages, and construction labor is no exception. But, by using creativity and focusing on the team you already have, you’ll be in a much better place to weather the storm. Interested in no longer having to manufacture roof frames, so you can save your shop time for more profitable work? Start a quick quote here!