Combatting the Labor Shortage

Retaining and Recruiting Top Talent Remains a Top Priority Following COVID-19

When the financial crisis of 2008 hit, the construction industry experienced a talent exodus, losing 1.5 million jobs. Many of these workers left the industry never to return. Since that time, the construction industry has grappled with a shortage of skilled workers. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, labor shortages across industries are spiking, but the scarcity of skilled labor is, unfortunately, a familiar territory that firms have been navigating for the last 12 years. 

Recruiting and retaining the best workers has long been mission-critical for the industry; the coronavirus hasn’t changed that. Firms learned a hard lesson in 2008 about the crucial nature of retaining talent in a downturn. During that recession, some firms cut pay across the board and ultimately lost their top talent. Companies then relied on “B players” to do “A player” jobs, which often resulted in mistakes and rework, costing the company significantly more money. 

Firms are now looking at recruiting the right people and putting strategies in place to retain them long term. Even as COVID-19 spikes start to wane in the US, having the best team in an organization is critical right now. Construction companies will need a strong, skilled set of employees to pick back up and work toward rebuilding company growth.

This is an ongoing challenge as baby boomers retire in record numbers, and the industry struggles to attract younger talent. With the aging of the workforce, the industry is adapting recruiting strategies to attract the next generation of talent. Firms are doing this by educating the millennial and Gen Z demographics on the value of opportunities in the construction industry, highlighting career development programs, promoting the company’s social responsibility activities, and using social media to interact with them. 

Construction companies will need to act fast to secure these young, valuable employees who will make a long-term effort to their organization. It’s crucial that companies pay what it’s worth to keep A players part of the team. Compensating these employees the right way will keep them around long-term and prevent the additional costs of losing talent. 

In addition to hiring and recruiting strategies, firms are using technology to help mitigate the shortage of skilled labor. According to the Association of General Contractors (AGC)/Sage 2020 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook survey, 81% of respondents indicated they are having a hard time filling positions. Respondents also said, “staffing challenges were affecting project costs and completion times.” The survey noted that firms are coping with labor shortages by adopting labor-saving technologies such as project management software.

Construction firms are turning to these productivity-enhancing project management platforms to become more efficient in an environment of increased demand and labor shortages. The same AGC/Sage report found that nearly half the firms surveyed expect to increase their investment in information technology (IT) this year, with the largest share planning to increase investments in project management software.

Efficiency losses in construction most often occur when information is not transmitted effectively between project stakeholders. Construction project management platforms, which capture all construction team member interactions, are key to making practices more efficient and elevating the quality of work. These platforms provide a single point of data entry and a central repository of information that increases operational efficiency by facilitating communication and collaboration in every stage of the project lifecycle.  

COVID-19 doesn’t change the importance of a strong workforce – this has been and always should be a priority. With a solid employee base supplemented by project management technology, construction companies can continue to work on rebuilding growth following the pandemic.


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