How Novel Ways to Attract and Retain Talent Can Help Solve Construction’s Labor Woes

The construction industry is in the midst of a dramatic labor shortage.

It’s been a tough few years for the construction industry, but not because of a dip in demand for new home builds or home improvement projects. Rather, the construction industry is in the midst of a dramatic labor shortage. According to the third quarter U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index, 92% of commercial contractors have reported difficulty finding skilled workers, with 55% of those indicating a high level of difficulty.

“Like many industries, construction has had trouble finding and keeping good quality labor and employees to complete the work,” said Paul Heidemann, managing director of C3’s Construction Division. “This was the case even before the pandemic hit. In fact, during the last recession, a lot of construction industry employees fled to find work in other industries, and they never made it back to construction. COVID-19 only exacerbated the issue.” Paul Heidemann, Managing Director, C3’s Construction Division

Against the backdrop of such a labor shortage, many construction companies are turning to headhunters or recruiters for help. Others are trying to lure competitors’ talent with better pay, signing bonuses or increased vacation time. While these tactics have shown varying degrees of success, Heidemann says construction companies would do well to embrace new ways to market themselves to the next generation of skilled construction labor — those digital natives that spend time online researching construction jobs on the likes of Glassdoor or through social media platforms. They’re looking for competitive benefits and pay, of course. But company culture and flexibility are equally important to them. Meeting prospective talent where they are — online — and communicating company values and opportunity through video is one way to make a big impression.

“Aside from helping contractors manage their risks, C3 offers some unique ways to market our construction clients, including a video team that helps enhance their social media profile and management of Glassdoor and Indeed accounts to align the external brand identity with the internal culture,” said Heidemann. “Through the videos we produce for them, prospective talent can get a sense of the energy and culture of a construction company and what sets it apart from the competition.”

In addition, Heidemann says construction companies would benefit from simply being open to change. “Construction companies have historically required their office employees to be physically present at work. But the 21st century brought with it new expectations among all employees for a better work-life balance,” he said. “Offering flex time or the option to work remotely for construction project managers and other office staff help meet these expectations — and help construction companies to attract and retain staff critical to maintaining smooth operations amid a rocky economy.”

This article was published in conjunction with NU PropertyCasualty360. Written by Susannah Adler with content provided by Paul Heidemann, Managing Director of Construction & Surety Divisions at C3.