December 01, 2021

JP’s Tough Takes: The “No BS” Blog for Home Services Industry

  • Author: JobProgress LLC
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Who the Hell Is Going to Do All This Work?

We've all heard the term, "The Great Resignation," enough times now that we are getting downright sick of it. As much as we'd like to ignore it, the fact that many construction companies have more work (or potential work) than they can find people to do it proves you can't bury your head in the sand or drown your sorrows at the local pub at this point.

What is Causing It?

It is easy to simply say that people just don't want to work. And sure, there are some out there that don't. But far more have other reasons too. Here are just a few of the reasons why finding and keeping good home remodeling employees is hard.

  • An Aging Profession: According to a 2019 survey by the National Association of Home Builders, the average age of construction workers is 41. While that isn't all that old, if you consider that half of construction workers are older than 41, you can quickly see that the profession as a whole is simply not attracting younger workers.
  • New Insight from Pandemic: The emotional and physical roller coaster that we all endured (are enduring?) from early 2020 until now cannot be underestimated. From early on, we just weren't sure what this would mean long-term, and quite a few people took stock of what is important in their lives during this time. This led many people to decide that working for a company that requires long hours, low pay and little reward simply isn't worth taking the time away from their families.
  • Career Options Expand: With the additional unemployment benefits released during the pandemic, and the "taking stock of their lives" listed above, quite a few Gen Z folks were able to return to school to pursue a career that gave them the flexibility they were craving. And with construction ranking near the bottom of the list in careers Gen Z high school and college students want to pursue, the pickings of new employees went from slim to even scrawny.
  • Industry Perception: Whether we like it or not, the construction industry has a bit of a branding problem. Your average Gen Z-er has no idea that they can make a nice living doing this type of work and enjoy a sense of satisfaction at building something real with their hands. Media hasn't helped by often portraying construction workers as the guys catcalling women that walk by.

What Can Be Done?

So, before you throw up your hands and quote Roy Kent, there are things we can do immediately and over the long term to help solve the issues too. Buckle up!

  • Remote Work: Yes, I realize only a portion of your staff can take advantage of this, but for those that can this is a game-changer. If your office staff, salespeople and other desk jockeys want to work from home, let them! Accountability always falls on individual and if the job gets done, that is all that matters. Slackers are gonna slack regardless of location just like hard workers are gonna perform in the office and at home.
  • Educate the Next Generation: If younger workers are going to learn about construction as a career path, company owners and managers need to get involved in local schools. This can involve things like attending career fairs, speaking to kids of all ages about the great things they can do in the industry, attending events at local community colleges and even participating on school boards. Invite classrooms to go on a field trip to one of your job sites and show kids how different tools work at a young age to make an impression on them as they start thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.
  • Create an Inclusive Environment: According to Pew Research Center, and the recently released census data, the next wave of workers is more racially and ethnically diverse. This may mean that your team will look quite a bit different than it has historically. It may also mean that you must consider doing some diversity training and call people out when they make inappropriate jokes too. Be open to workers from all walks of life, including women, and do all you can to make everyone feel welcome and appreciated for the work they do.
  • Flexible Work Hours: Many companies have started offering the option to workpart-time or on certain days of the week to accommodate employees' other commitments. Frankly, having a great worker part-time beats having an average one full time in my book. It can lead to scheduling challenges, but if it means you can do the work and meet customer needs, it is well worth that extra time and effort.
  • Address Issues Immediately: If something goes wrong, or co-workers have a dispute, do not put off dealing with it. People want to know where they stand with their management, so nipping issues in the bud allows you to avoid a lot of much larger issues down the road.
  • Enjoy Your Work: No one will dispute that you and everyone at your company are there to do a job – or a lot of jobs. But there is no reason that you can't do what you can to create a culture that encourages camaraderie and fun too. Take the team out for drinks or have a company dinner here and there. Give on-the-spot bonuses for a job well done. Reward those that go the extra mile. Define a clear path for advancement. This will help you create a company where people want to work rather than one where people have to work.

I know, I know, some of this is easier said than done. But there is no reason you can't tackle some of these improvements and initiatives, especially if you want to differentiate your company from the others out there looking to hire good people. While today's workers have a lot of demands, they are also the first ones to sing your praises far and wide and tell their friends about what a great place your company is to work. You scratch their back, and they will scratch yours, for sure.

What have you done that has worked in terms of keeping and attracting new workers?