How to Retain a Skilled Workforce in the Construction Industry

May 2, 2024

The construction industry has always dealt with labor shortages. Companies have always struggled with the seasonal nature of jobs and with replacing older, skilled laborers with younger workers. The industry will, however, start facing a larger problem. As of 2022, the construction industry needed to fill 650,000 jobs just to keep up with the backlog. On top of that, less than 20% of Gen Z said they would even entertain a job in construction.  If the construction industry hopes to fill the skilled and unskilled labor gap, then they will need to rethink what construction jobs look like and how they handle employees.  

“When we start to talk about why that is, there are really a number of factors, ranging from industry perceptions to inadequate skills. Many students may feel they don’t meet the stereotypical characteristics for a career in construction, much less the criteria for the physically demanding skills required in the construction field.” according to the Construction Executive.

Hiring new employees is becoming all the more challenging as time-to-hire rates have increased to an all-time high. As published in HRDive, “Jobs now take an average of 44 days to fill, up from 43 days a year ago, rising a full day across all industries during the first quarter of this year. Although some jobs can be filled in 14 days, many remain vacant for two or three months — or more.”

These trends are adding stress and pressure for HR teams already struggling to recruit and retain in the past five years as they battled the war on talent and the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the workforce.

Getting younger generations into construction is tough thanks to long-held beliefs about the industry. Misconceptions such as construction being unsafe and blue-collar in nature continue to make it difficult to recruit younger talent. 

This poor brand perception requires the construction industry to work harder than others to create cultures that value upskilling, professional development and team engagement. Improving relationships with managers can help employees feel respected and valued, and it’s no secret that happy employees can be a company’s best recruitment tool.

Three tips for retaining a skilled workforce:

  • Ongoing Evaluations
    • Gone are the days of annual reviews. Employers need to evaluate employees on a regular basis to keep them motivated and goal-oriented. This is an opportunity for managers to highlight an employee’s good work, as well as discuss challenges that could be impacting performance.
  • Professional Development
    • Professional growth isn’t just for management. If the construction industry is going to fill talent gaps they need to focus on retention strategies which include upskilling. Managers should work with employees to establish professional goals, then develop a plan for achieving those goals through training programs, mentorship and more.
  • Culture
    • The construction industry has to create a culture of learning that values employee growth. Employees need to feel comfortable talking to managers about their goals and trust that they will be supported to learn new skills for advancement and job security. Managers must establish a culture of celebration and team engagement to foster collaboration and improve employee morale.

Contact us today to learn more about our modern approach to performance management and development and how it solves for retention. Don’t just take our word for it, see what our Customers have to say.