Thought Leaders: How do you tackle the construction talent gap?

By Curtis R. Olson, CPA, CCIFP - Wipfli — 

These three factors — ownership transitions, recruitment and retention — add up to a serious and perpetual problem for the industry, and one that time and market conditions won’t fix. Here’s the hard truth: There will never be enough people to get the work done. To battle the construction labor shortage, it’s time to develop new strategies for talent acquisition and retention.

Assess before you engage

Pre-hiring assessments can help your firm shorten ramp-up time and shore up investments. Behavioral assessments can “decode” candidates’ motivations and help place them on the right teams, right away.

Assessment-based hiring can guide interviewers toward the right questions and match new-hires with compatible managers and teams.

Onboard during the interview process   

It’s never too early to get on the same page. Use the interview process to introduce your mission, vision and values, and to start conversations about career paths and aspirations.

Diversify the talent pool

It’s no secret: Construction is a male-dominated industry. Firms can expand their talent pools by recruiting more women and minorities into the field. In an equitable environment, more employees can enter the industry, impact outcomes and participate at the greatest level.

Firms also need to recruit new skillsets. Increasingly, employees will need technical and analytic tools, in addition to a skilled trade.

Re-recruit your employees

“More people” isn’t a magic solution. Recruitment, onboarding and training are time-consuming and expensive. The best HR investments are working for you right now. It’s your job to make sure people are in the right roles, given the right support and offered a longer-term career path.

The talent gap is our “new normal.” Construction firms can execute contracts, secure new business and increase company value with the people they already have. The key is to hire the right people, train them well and develop solid career paths for them to follow. When employees are engaged in the work, they can — and will — do more to move the company forward.