This past year should have had home builders across the country jumping for joy. After all, the demand for new homes soared while the supply of available properties remained relatively low. Instead, many in the construction industry are want to tear their hair out in frustration.
Why? Generally, that’s the perfect formula for success in the construction market. It’s because something else is drastically low as well — the amount of available skilled labor.
Several factors have combined to create a labor market that has U.S. home builders clamoring for qualified workers. One factor is COVID-19, which disrupted projects and supply chains and led to what is now coined “The Great Resignation.” But add to that the nationwide shortage of trade schools designed to turn out skilled craftsmen (and, thanks to a lack of emphasis on the trades in public schools, a dearth of students interested in enrolling), fewer immigrant workers than in past decades and a surge in construction across every sector. Now you have a perfect storm that’s hitting American home builders hard.
Exacerbating the problem is the fact that young people are showing less and less interest in careers in construction.
“There was a huge push in the ’90s and even in the early 2000s that if you were going to be successful, you needed to go to college,” says Tyson Conrad, president and founder of Tampa-based Goliath Construction Consulting. “And you add to that the Baby Boomers all migrating out of the workforce – now you’ve got a trifecta of major issues. You have few people going in, a lot of people going out.”
With a shortage of qualified help, homes are taking longer to build, and they ultimately end up being more expensive. That’s because contractors have to pay higher wages to entice the tradesmen who are available to fill construction jobs and work on their projects.
So, how can you confront The Great Resignation for future success? Here are four strategies to overcome the construction labor shortage.
1. Create a positive workplace culture
It’s simple: The best employees want to work for the best companies. So, how does your business enter these ranks? It’s all about company culture.
Make your construction business a place that values each individual and fosters collaborative teamwork. When people feel empowered and connected, they’re likely to perform better and be more committed to their job. There are a few ways this is done. Set clear expectations for each position, give employees opportunities to grow through promotions or mentorship programs, involve those who work for you in larger decisions and live by your core business decisions.
By creating a positive workplace culture, retaining the strongest on your team is only the beginning. You’ll also set yourself ahead of competitors to fill construction jobs with better, more skilled talent whenever the time comes.
2. Promote your company
As a business owner, the idea and act of promotion is nothing new. How else are you going to attract potential clients? That same thought process should be used when combating the construction labor shortage. It’s time to promote your business to the brightest and best tradesmen out there.
To make a big impact in your market you don’t need to spend big money either. There are plenty of ways to get your company name out there with the click of a button.
Consider this: It’s a digital world, and job seekers are no longer limiting their hunt to websites like Monster or Indeed. They’re looking everywhere – including across social platforms. Even for construction, social media ads can be incredibly effective at targeting the right people based on search habits, likes and groups.
Don’t just stop at social. Whenever you have a big announcement, exciting project update or hit a major milestone, let the local media know. Public relations doubles as free publicity – the type that paints your construction company as one job seekers want to join.
3. Add tech to your toolbelt
Technology like construction project management software is becoming increasingly as necessary as hammers or nails when it comes to building communities. The best platforms, like Buildertrend, are filled with suites of digital tools that improve communication, efficiency and financials.
These programs are the future of construction. By streamlining workflows for everything from project planning to client relations to estimating, your team has the potential to save hours of time. That level of productivity and amount of time can eliminate the need to fill one or two construction jobs.
4. Network, network then network some more
Your company is not alone in combating the construction labor shortage. The effect is felt industrywide. That’s why now more than ever it’s so critical to network and face this problem as a unified front.
Reaching out to family, friends and friends of friends is a solid start. But you might need to dig deeper. Consider tapping into the resources your partners, suppliers and vendors have. Let others know you’re looking – and what type of candidates you’re hoping to hire. Nobody knows the qualified talent in the industry better than those who work in it.
Nationwide, one of the strongest networks of home builders, vendors, suppliers and brand partners is CBUSA. This is the leading group purchasing organization for the residential construction market. By joining, members not only access competitive pricing on materials and exclusive rebates, but they also become part of our network.
CBUSA is the perfect place for home builders to find the skilled labor they so desperately need. We have 500-plus builder members across 30 markets, making our group purchasing organization a great resource for highly qualified and vetted tradesmen and subcontractors. Within each local chapter, members share insights and tips to stay ahead of industrywide challenges like the construction labor shortage. At CBUSA, it’s a true “stronger together” mentality brought to life.
To inquire about membership and find out more about how CBUSA can help your firm apply now at cbusa.us.