Attracting and retaining top talent is essential to the success of any organization. Keeping employees’ active, engaged and driving value is a key variable in the success formula. It not only ensures a quality product or service but serves as the foundation for growth and innovation. Conversely, when it becomes difficult to attract employees or they are not properly engaged, the company can suffer in the long term. According to the 2017 National Worker Shortage Survey, conducted by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America, many construction companies are struggling with a limited labor pool. This survey offers interesting insights about hiring trends, recruitment strategies, compensation changes, employee retention and how companies are filling the gap. To help clients, prospects and others become aware of the results, Barnes Dennig has provided a summary below.
Key Survey Information
There were 1,600 companies of varying sizes across the nation that participated in the survey. 27% of respondents were from companies with $10M or less in annual revenue, 23% between $10.1M and $30M in annual revenue, 23% between $30.1M and $50M in revenue and the balance with $50M or greater in annual revenue. Participating companies also varied in their project focus and included those that work on private offices (52%), public buildings (50%), retail, warehouse and lodging structures (49%), hospitals (47%), manufacturing facilities (38%), highways (33%) and multifamily homes (29%).
Key Survey Findings
- Staffing Challenges – Construction companies are struggling to fill both salaried and hourly positions more now than before. According to the survey, for those having trouble filling salaried positions, 48% of respondents are struggling to hire project managers/supervisors, followed by estimating personnel (32%), engineers (28%) and BIM personnel (21%). For respondents who are having trouble filling hourly positions, carpenters are hardest to come by (58%), followed by bricklayers (53%), electricians (53%) and concrete workers (51%).
- Employee Loss – The competition for skilled and hourly employees is becoming more intense. According to the survey, 38% of respondents have lost hourly employees to companies in the area, 12% have lost employees to companies out of the area, 20% have been lost to companies outside of the industry and 34% have experienced no loss. For salaried professionals, 26% of respondents have lost employees to companies in the area, 11% have lost employees to companies out of the area, 14% have been lost to companies outside of the industry and 51% have experienced no loss.
- Recruiting Approach – Given the labor shortage, construction companies are using different recruiting strategies to find new talent. According to the survey, 57% of respondents are recruiting via outreach to community and industry groups, 57% are outreaching to local colleges, universities and technical colleges, 48% are using targeted job fairs and 45% are implementing internship programs. Companies are also making special efforts to target various groups, including a focus on veterans (79%), women (70%), African Americans (64%) and formerly incarcerated individuals (22%).
- Retention – During a labor shortage it’s often not sufficient to increase compensation alone. There are other programs and intangible benefits that impact an individual’s decision about where to work. According to the survey, 43% of respondents are offering customized learning programs to aid in retention, 41% offer mentorship or sponsorship programs, 37% have a clearly defined career progression roadmap and 35% offer flexible work. Other retention strategies include employee resource groups and diversity/inclusion training.
- Filling the Gap – To manage through the shortage, companies are turning to alternative methods to eliminate the impact or obtain the needed talent. Survey results indicate that 47% of respondents are committing to overtime hours, 46% are offering more in-house training, 41% are using more subcontractors and 35% are hiring interns. Other activities include turning to recruiters and staffing companies, using labor-saving equipment (e.g., drones, robots), implementing virtual construction methods (e.g., BIM) and offsite pre-fabrication.
The trends and information revealed in the survey paint a clear picture about the employment situation in the construction industry. There are several strategies companies can employ to help address these issues proactively. If you have questions about the survey results or need assistance with an audit, tax or compliance issue, Barnes Dennig can help. For additional information please call us at 513-241-8313, or click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soon.