5 Ways to Find (and Keep) Skilled Jobsite Workers

These five tips can help business owners conquer the current construction labor shortage by focusing on hiring and retaining the best skilled jobsite workers.

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Despite a booming economy, right now there’s a construction labor shortage in the U.S. A large percentage of construction firms across the country are struggling to meet deadlines because they can’t find enough skilled jobsite workers. As a result, it’s crucial that business owners find the right people and offer incentives to keep them.

A recent study from the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) found that one-third of the companies surveyed are looking to increase their construction labor force, and the biggest challenge facing the industry is the supply of skilled jobsite workers. Ed Brady, president of the Home Builders Institute, stopped short of calling the shortage a crisis, saying instead that it’s “really a struggle” for builders and construction firms coast to coast.

The financial crisis and Great Recession of the late 2000s is still partially to blame. The Department of Labor estimates the construction industry lost 2.3 million jobs during that time. Although firms have regained a share of the construction labor, despite a strong market where there is an abundance of job choices, many of those workers never came back. Combine that with baby boomers retiring, and construction jobs failing to attract tech-savvy millennials, and you have a real issue. So, how do construction firms maneuver the shortage? These five tips can help you find and keep skilled jobsite workers.

1. Rely on referrals

The HIRI study revealed that referrals are overwhelmingly the top technique for companies to find skilled jobsite workers. Almost 80 percent of the companies surveyed reported that reaching out to friends and families for worker recommendations was the best way of finding construction labor. The next best method is attracting talent through company websites and national/local job websites. Using printed materials, LinkedIn, career fairs, recruiters and school offices rounded out the rest of the list as techniques for finding skilled jobsite workers.

2. Increase starting salaries

A competitive labor market means workers have greater employment opportunities. Because of this, the construction industry has countered by offering higher wages across the country. As a construction employer, your focus should be on finding the right talent and motivating those workers to stay by looking at what you’re willing to pay. Over 20 percent of the companies listed in the study are promising wage increases to existing workers, and another 20 percent committed to paying higher starting salaries to attract top talent.

Shutterstock/ via Dmitry Kallnovsky

3. Offer flexible schedules

One way to improve hiring and keep skilled workers is to review why previous employees have left your company. Are they leaving for other top construction jobs with increased flexibility and incentives? If that’s the case, it may be worth comparing your company work hours and scheduling with your competitors. Aside from an increased salary, the study noted that offering flexible schedules is the top method of attracting or keeping skilled laborers.

4. Consider free employee training

Investing in your employees can show that you value them and their contributions. Consider adding free cross-training opportunities or pre-apprenticeship programs so that your employees gain a broader set of skills. And cross-training has a built-in benefit: if employees leave, it doesn’t mean they take that expertise with them.

5. Include a well-rounded benefits package

Because of the sometimes unpredictable nature of the construction industry, it’s important for employers to prioritize the physical and emotional well-being of their workers. Often, this can take the form of a well-rounded benefits package. Offer employees loyalty bonuses and incentives for staying with you. Include paid days off and improved medical benefits. And keep the dialogue open. Engaging in ongoing conversation and building long-term relationships through advancement is key to retaining the best and most skilled jobsite workers.

About the author

Shawnna Stiver is a veteran lifestyle, marketing and news content writer, currently contributing to ecommerce companies in the parenting and babies space. She has written traditional, digital and social content for the following industries: beauty, consumer goods, entrepreneurship, financial services, health/wellness, home improvement/DIY, lifestyle, non-profit, parenting and self-improvement. She runs a website that connects people with brands that make a difference in the world: www.kindco.org.