There’s a lot of talk about the current and future labor shortage and how it will affect companies that hire construction workers.

The US is in a severe labor shortage due to a number of factors. Not least of these are closures from the COVID-19 pandemic, increased unemployment benefits and recent surges in COVID-19 infections. The construction industry felt the pinch of worker shortages since before the pandemic. But the situation has gotten worse.

Hiring Construction Workers Will Continue to Be Challenging

According to AGC, over half of construction firms were having a hard time hiring skilled workers before the pandemic and only 15% think the situation will get better in the near future.

Baby Boomers currently make up 41% of the construction industry’s workforce. Many saw the pandemic as a good reason to retire. And, younger generations aren’t coming into the industry as fast as Boomers are leaving. According to ABC, businesses will need to hire 430,000 more construction workers in 2021 than the previous year, and a million more over the next two years in order to keep up with demand.

With so much riding on the ability to hire construction workers and retain your workforce during normal times, it makes sense that the current labor shortage and its impact is a highly discussed topic. 

And, more importantly, the chatter around the issue is not only meant to inform employers. There is also a discussion about solutions. 

Solution #1: Find new talent at the source.

Create relationships with local high schools and trade schools to get a jump on hiring the next generation of construction workers.

Be sure to push the benefits of going into a skilled trade instead of college. It’s imperative to catch Gen Z workers while they are still in school.

Gen Z workers are interested in trying new things. And they are willing to try a trade if it means they won’t have to shell out tons of money for higher education. Push the fact that the average student leaves a four-year degree program almost $40,000 in debt in your recruitment materials.

Aside from money, advertise that a career in construction gives Gen Z workers the ability to be creative, innovative and quick thinking. Not to mention, a career in construction offers multiple opportunities for advancement.

Consider participating in events like career days and employment fairs. These are good starting points for hiring construction workers.

Solution #2: Enhance your hiring process.

If your application process isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re not reaching all the construction candidates you could.

According to Indeed, 75% of Indeed job search traffic comes directly from mobile. And as construction workers are looking for new jobs on their phones, an easy-to-use, mobile-friendly system is vital.

If your mobile application process is too complex, applicants will move on to another opportunity. 

And going back to targeting Gen Z workers, they certainly don’t have the desire to fill out paper or clunky online forms. Gen Z have always had access to technology; this is the generation that could work a mobile device at ages three or four.

To hire construction workers of all ages, keep your application process mobile-friendly, straightforward and fast.

Solution #3: Focus on company culture. 

Your recruitment process can be top-notch but if you’re not offering a great work environment, you’ll still have issues hiring quality candidates. 

Employees care about where they work, and company culture increasingly factors into people’s decisions about which offer to accept. According to The Balance Careers, if employees work where culture is a good fit, they’ll develop better relationships with coworkers and be more productive.

Company culture is the environment in which your employees work and how the company operates. It includes your mission, goals, core values and policies.

A company’s culture is created through activities like a mentorship program, team-wide service projects, career coaching, parental leave, student loan repayment and performance-based compensation programs. If your company doesn’t have a strong, defined and positive culture, potential talent will keep looking.

Solution #4: To hire construction workers, offer training.

Since construction technology and techniques evolve so quickly, it makes sense to get employees the skills they need. A strong training program not only keeps employees engaged and productive, but may engender the type of loyalty that drives retention. 

Take Gen Z for example. Gen Z workers are driven by financial rewards and advancement opportunities. So offering employee development is a must. 

Development and training opportunities, like online training courses, webinars and in-person training, can be part of a succession plan for all your employees. This could propel them to management and leadership positions, benefiting you in the future.

Solution #5: Create a mentor program.

Mentor programs promote a strong one-on-one relationship between seasoned workers and those looking for guidance on how to perfect their trade. It’s also a powerful tool for retention. 

Mentoring as a training method is ideal for young employees. Gen Z employees (those born after 1996) don’t want to be managed, they want to be mentored.

According to a Forbes article, Gen Z prefers mentoring because they’re used to finding their own solutions and filling knowledge gaps. Providing this type of learning and development to Gen Z workers in the field or in remote positions will help them feel supported and part of the company culture, which can ultimately help with retention. 

Buddies aren’t just for newbies; those with experience can benefit from coaching as well, especially those you’re looking to upskill into new positions.