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Can’t Find Enough Good Help?
Builders, contractors and subcontractors continually complain that they can’t find enough trained help to get all their work done. People, or a lack of them, is their biggest problem. This leads me to believe that construction business owners should make finding, training and keeping great employees their No. 1 priority. But, do they?
So the construction industry labor shortage must exist. Right? Well, guess what? There is not a labor shortage in the United States today. A luxury hotel recently opened in Las Vegas, attracting 84,000 applicants for only 9,600 job openings. People flock to great jobs at high-tech companies, quality manufacturers and even the service industry. People want to work. Yet, the construction industry suffers from a shortage of trained and qualified workers entering the workforce every year. The problem? No one wants to work in construction. No one wants to work in dead-end jobs. No on wants to be treated like “hired hands.” People want to see a future.
I speak to the construction industry more than 50 times a year at major conventions and company meetings on business, leadership and customer relationships. I ask my audiences, “Do any of your kids want to work in construction?” Only one in a 100 says “yes.” With such a low response from the children of people in the industry, it should come as no surprise that construction ranks No. 248 out of 250 career opportunities among high school seniors.
Why work in construction?
Pay for field construction workers has declined steadily for 10 years (adjusted for inflation and buying power), while most other career choices have experienced a net increase. Construction field workers see a pay potential that plateaus quickly and declines as they get older and less valuable than their younger peers. Great upside potential? Not!
Fortune magazine’s “Most Admired Companies in America” train their people between 40 and 60 hours per year. The average construction company trains their people between one and three hours per year, per employee. Great training? Not!
Why would anyone be surprised that nobody wants a job in an industry that offers hard work, low pay, inadequate training, few personal development opportunities and little career growth?
What do young people want?
All the talk, complaining, programs and money will never get young people to seek work in the construction field until builders, contractors and subcontractors change the way they do business.
What’s the solution?
To retain great people, companies must have a proactive and aggressive employee development program, rather than lip service and idle promises. This includes ongoing training and education, programs in team building, computers, supervision and leadership as well as technical skills. Also required are employee recognition systems, personal development programs and pay for performance. Future growth career ladders must be clear, tracked and updated regularly.
To develop great people requires new management and leadership styles that coach, inspire and encourage people to become the best they can be. This requires letting go and trusting people to take it to the next level. This only happens when managers realize that people are their only competitive advantage. Their output equals your input.
When will you start?
My challenge to you is to change our industry now. Radical innovation, risk taking and real leadership are needed desperately by everyone. Only you can return our industry to favor with potential young workers. Now is the time for every building and construction company owner, leader, manager and supervisor to focus on the problems that have created this “labor shortage” by implementing immediate and long lasting solutions at every level. The only question is, “When will you start?”
|Last Updated on Monday, 15 August 2011 12:17|