Construction Labor Shortage
It’s hitting Colorado and Wisconsin the worst, but it will affect every construction firm across the U.S. There has never been a construction labor shortage like this one. Why is that? Well…nobody wants to do hard labor anymore. Construction is hard, dirty, tough work. Why do it if you can get paid to sit behind a desk on a computer all day? It’s the same phenomenon that has plagued the small farm industry for a decade. Many people saw it coming the minute everything in our world went digital. People want to text, surf the net, experience instantaneous results and not have to leave the comfort of their home or cell phone. We have become a lazy society. People don’t “work”, they punch buttons all day, and just where does that leave us?
It leaves us desperate for people to fill the blue collar jobs that are still needed in our society. But how can a blue collar employer compete with sitting behind a cushy desk all day doing nothing but punching a computer keyboard? The construction industry has raised their wage rate as high as they can to try and attract construction laborers. It worked for a few years, but now, even top wages are not pulling in construction workers like it used to.
Housing Boom to Bust
With the construction boom that Colorado has been in within the last decade, this labor shortage could be catastrophic to one of Colorado’s biggest industries: housing construction. The housing market in Colorado has been experiencing a boom like no other state except California. Colorado construction companies can barely keep up with the demand as it is, and now with a labor crisis in their industry, it has slowed construction down quite a bit. Companies have had to resort to hiring out-of-state and offering high wage packages to attractive experienced craftsmen. This leads to exorbitant housing costs that are passed onto the consumer. California and Colorado have experience significant declines in housing sales since June 2018. It all trickles downhill. One tiny little element in a business will eventually affect consumers, prices and then cause a decline in sales.
The last state you would expect a construction labor shortage is Wisconsin. Construction has been a stable workforce supporter for centuries in this state, and residents are surprised to find out how much construction companies are struggling to find experienced or qualified candidates. In a state where good jobs are typically difficult to come by, it is surprising that there is a lack of interest in Wisconsinites to make good money in the construction trades.
When Raising Wages Fails to Attract Workers, What Can You Do?
From a marketing standpoint, what can construction companies do to combat this recent industry crisis? First you have to recognize what the root of the problem really is. This takes a savvy marketer and researcher to dig deep enough to get to the root of what is really affecting job applicants rather than the mountain of news articles that speculate the cause. Marketing experts (the good ones anyway) have a uncanny knack for reading between the lines to get at the real reason a market will sway in one direction or another. Marketing people think like no other. They look at everything in our world from a market perspective no matter how mundane it may seem to the average person. Things the average person overlooks as just everyday life, a marketer will pick apart, analyze to death, and use deductive reasoning to whittle away at. This is a skill not every business owner can master, which is why they hire marketing experts. A marketing expert would take the labor shortage crisis in the construction industry and look up all the data they can find to get at the reason for the trend. Then figure out the best solution to combat it. I have seen a great many construction companies throwing away money on this crisis because they fail to deduce what it is that will effectively attract workers to them over their competition. It may seem drastic or odd to you to hire a marketing expert to hire your employees, but drastic times call for drastic measures, or you are just throwing money blindly at the problem with little results.
Many construction firms stick to what they have done for literally decades to find employees, and that will not work in today’s job market. We are now being forced to think innovatively not just to attract customers today, but also to attract employees; something we are not used to and many business owners have no clue how to do.
Solution to Construction Labor Shortage dilemma:
1. Hire a marketing expert. I’m not just saying this because I am one. This labor shortage is here to stay for the construction industry unless something really bizarre happens to change the way we build things. And it is going to require more than your usual employment ad in the local newspaper or on Craig’s List to cope with the way things are now. It’s going to take a creative marketing strategy to draw in new recruits.
2. Be open-minded to what a marketing expert might recommend. Times have changed. You are going to have to be willing to change the way you have recruited in the past. Out with the old, in with the new, if you are going to have any success with the current job market.
3. Actually implement the recruiting strategy your marketer recommends. They want you to succeed otherwise they won’t have your future business. If you go through time and money to hire a professional marketing expert, then do what they say. You would be surprised how many companies sit there and nod their heads in agreement during a consultation and then don’t do a thing after that. If you cannot do any of the recruitment tasks due to lack of time, then find a marketing professional that is willing to do the entire process for you up to the interview: sorry, you are still going to have to interview candidates. Nobody can pick them for you or should. You know if someone is a match for your company or not and personality has just as much to do with it as how they look on paper. A marketer can help you make the interview process a little easier and expedite it a bit though.