As labor issues plague the construction industry with no signs of abatement, a new survey from Associated General Contractors of America and San Francisco-based construction software firm Autodesk demonstrates the degree to which firms are struggling.
Among the 1,401 respondents polled from a breadth of companies, 85% of construction firms have open positions that they are trying to fill. Of those businesses, 88% are having issues filling some of the positions, particularly among the craft workforce, according to an AGC press release on the survey.
These difficulties are not relegated to one aspect or facet of construction. Contractors of all sizes, revenue amounts and specializations reported issues finding workers, per the release.
Find what works
In their scramble for workers, contractors have offered varying benefits to entice young professionals to join their ranks. Many are financial—81% of firms have raised base pay rates for their workers during the past year, according to the survey. In addition, 44% are providing incentives and bonuses and 26% have also improved their benefits packages.
Part of these incentives also comes down to what younger workers want, said Bill Ryan, education coordinator at Helena, Montana-based Dick Anderson Construction. Ryan pointed to the fact that while overtime pay is desirable, for example, younger workers value their free time more.
“Their motivation is their free time, and what they get to do with their free time,” Ryan said during the webinar.
Ryan also said that there’s a cultural shift occurring in the industry. Gone are the days of workers who will tolerate being belittled or badgered on a jobsite.
“The reason there’s so few of us in the room is because we survived the old way,” Ryan said, referring to older workers. “We survived being berated, we survived being yelled at, that doesn’t work with the current generation.”
Instead, he said the key is to find out what drives younger workers today.
“It’s a big puzzle, and we have to find the right pieces and put them in the right places to motivate, and to find out what the motivations are, for the younger generations,” Ryan said. “It doesn’t work to just yell and scream and deride people any longer.”
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