By Gen Simmons
The increased demand for quality labor is one of the most significant issues in the construction industry these past few years. According to the Association Builders and Contractors group, “the construction industry will need to attract 650,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2022 to meet the demand for labor.”
According to the Bureau of Labor, the construction workforce is forecast to grow seven percent between 2020 and 2030, adding over 100,000 jobs yearly. Women are stepping in to fill more roles in the construction industry, occupying almost eleven percent of the jobs in construction and showing a 94 percent growth in female-owned construction firms over the past decade.
One of the biggest boosters of employment in the construction industry came from the recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law in mid-November of 2021. In this Act, the US government committed to investing $1.2 trillion into infrastructure and construction over the next five years. This new bill includes $450 billion for highway and public transportation investments and new, 5-year reauthorization of the federal surface transportation programs. The IIJA will deliver generational transportation investments, with 90 percent of the resources for roads and bridges distributed by formula directly to the states.
This funding will affect everyone in the construction ecosystem, creating more jobs than ever. Contractors will need to deploy technology to give them a competitive edge, or they will be left behind. While this bill will provide many new jobs, the workforce shortage is still a challenge companies will need to overcome. Empowering every employee with technology that maximizes their productivity will enable the workforce to handle more work with less need for more workers. Great technology can help employees do the work of two. Still, firms need to be sure that the technology partner they choose to work with is familiar with the industry, can provide support references, and can help businesses reduce the risk of adopting technology.
The ongoing workforce shortage means many companies will be looking to double or triple the productivity of their current workforce to keep pace with the industry. Technology helps businesses increase efficiency and productivity by automating processes, providing better data, and improving communications.
Using Technology to Increase Productivity
Firms are learning to get creative about finding and hiring talent and use technology to help workers do more with less. Some of the technology that firms can use to address the labor shortage in construction includes:
- Mobile communications and software keep construction teams informed on what is happening across the jobsite while eliminating paperwork, which takes time away from working on the project.
- Safety management software digitally captures compliance regulations and safety reports and promptly shares them to avoid penalties.
- Digitally manage plans so that everyone is on the same version of the plan.
- Manage all resources across your company in one easy-to-use construction dispatch scheduling software that allows your dispatcher to track equipment, crews, tools, and rentals.
- Use construction timecard software to minimize time spent capturing time entries each day and eliminate back-and-forth phone calls or drive time to jobs.
- Create and customize proposals digitally that can be shared with project stakeholders.
One of the critical technologies that help recruit and retain talent is a comprehensive safety management program.
Turn Your Safety Program into a Competitive Hiring & Retention Tool
Each new hire within a construction firm is an investment in onboarding and training. If an employee leaves, companies must make a new investment in a new employee. If a company sees turnover in its crews, an investment in a construction safety program can offset new hire investments. Plus, it improves employee loyalty by showing that your business cares about its people.
Use your safety program as a hiring tool. If you’re recruiting, applicants will search for your company online to learn more about your company. Applicants may be discouraged if online results show an incident or other safety problems. People want to work for companies that care about protecting their employees. Plus, a strong safety record can show a solid commitment to growth. Incidents can damage your company’s reputation and prevent you from bidding on specific projects. A strong safety record may make your company eligible to bid on more projects.
A safety management program can help retain crews long-term and increase loyalty. Companies that work to ensure their employees’ safety, educate them about safety and involve them in safety processes are likely to have more loyal employees. By focusing on safety, you’re showing that you know that your most important business asset is your people.
If an incident or near miss occurs, it can cost your firm money and affect indirect costs like low morale, loss of productivity, and damage to reputation. By collecting and analyzing safety records before any work starts, you can control things that could cause a near-miss or incident after the work starts. A safety management program allows your business and crews to learn from past jobs, prepare for future jobs, and pivot safety efforts when needed.
With mobile tools, crews can collect and send real-time safety data directly from the field in seconds. Using the data collected to teach your crews about safety, your safety management program can help you move away from rule enforcement and towards a progressive, people-based safety culture.
HCSS is the trusted leader in construction software for estimating, field entry, project management, safety, digital plans, 3-D drone imaging, fleet management, and telematics. For 35 years, the company has used annual user group meetings to listen to customers resulting in innovative software to manage every part of the project lifecycle. With 24/7 instant support and a proven implementation process, HCSS has helped improve operations for over 3,500 companies ranging from $1M to billions in revenue across the United States and Canada. HCSS, a 14-time Best Place to Work in Texas, has a unique 12-acre campus in Sugar Land, Texas, with three buildings capable of housing 700 employees. Learn more at hcss.com.
Gen Simmons is Project Manager, HCSS Safety.