The Great Resignation. The Great Reshuffling. Whatever you’d like to call it, people are voluntarily leaving jobs in droves, whether for a new job or industry altogether. According to recent SHRM data, 47.8 million workers quit their jobs in 2021, an average of nearly 4 million each month. As a result, the nation’s “quit rate” reached a 20-year high last November. The construction industry has taken the brunt of this exodus. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2021 had a quit rate of 3.0, meaning for every 100 construction professionals working, three were quitting. But why? A Pew Research Center survey found that low pay, lack of opportunities for advancement and feeling disrespected at work were the top reasons why Americans quit their jobs last year. The Great Resignation forced many leaders and business owners to shift the way they viewed their employees. This is certainly the case in the construction industry as demonstrated by both the large number of resignations and lack of interest in the industry from younger generations.
Weinbaum Management Group (WMG), a leading owner’s representation and construction management firm based in Los Angeles, has been fortunate to retain its team of experienced professionals and have made operational changes to remain competitive. Below are several of the changes and adaptations they’ve made to ensure the business can continue to grow as the industry does, too.
IMPLEMENT REMOTE CAPABILITIES
Historically, critical decisions were made on jobsites, but with the advancement of technology and software applications, managing a construction site remotely is more accessible than ever. Project executives and owner’s reps now have an increasing ability to project manage remotely. During the pandemic, WMG developed remote roles to meet the needs of its employees. The company implemented a new permit management service, which allowed employees in this group to be fully remote. This is especially important to attract and retain young professionals. According to recent Tallo Data Insights, the construction industry ranks second to last with 16.7% of Gen Z workers wanting to work in the field. While not all of Gen Z wishes to work remotely, a GoBankingRates survey found that 27% of them view working from home as an absolute necessity, more than any other generation. WMG is always considering services that involve remote work to allow employees work/life balance. For example, they are launching scheduling and change order review departments in early 2023, which will give added flexibility to both current staff (those hoping to transition from a field role to a remote position) and future talent.
CREATE OPPORTUNITIES TO RECRUIT RETIREMENT-ELIGIBLE LEADERS
According to recent data, roughly 40% of all workers in the construction industry are 45-64 years old, with the number of older workers going up and the number of younger workers going down annually. Hiring experienced professionals has significant advantages, as older workers are often more experienced and have proven track records. One of WMG’s recruiting goals is to attract team members who have held senior positions at their respective companies and are eligible to retire. These professionals still desire to work, but they don’t want the stress of a management position. WMG has had success hiring professionals in this category whose expertise and wisdom they can leverage while giving those employees greater work/life balance in return. WMG most recently hired senior professionals for roles in the scheduling, change order review and permit management departments. Their experience and mentorship have proven invaluable to the team, and WMG will continue to recruit these types of leaders in the future.
CONTINUE TO INVEST IN YOUR PEOPLE
With the large influx of federal funds to the industry, there’s no shortage of funding for large, government projects. However, these specific projects tend to be high pressure and require long hours. It’s tough work for anyone, but especially for younger generations who are looking for flexibility, fluidity and even comfort in their work. The pandemic caused many people to assess their work-life balance, and flexibility and wellness moved to the forefront of job must-haves. In fact, 63% of job seekers say work-life balance is a top priority when selecting a new job. To achieve this, WMG allows employees to have input on the construction schedule, or asks them to share insights on how they believe projects can be done more efficiently. Consider offering apprenticeships and continued professional development opportunities for your employees. Construction Registered Apprenticeships, specialized programs in which apprentices learn skills and knowledge from experienced craft professionals, can help employers recruit, train and retain world-class construction talent in good, quality jobs. WMG also pays for professional development opportunities, such as earning additional certifications. Doing so has been a great way to develop the team and deliver additional benefits to clients.
As President and Founder of WMG, Lauren has spent over two decades in the construction industry and is seasoned in retaining and recruiting industry talent. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published in Construction Executive on February 20, 2023 and can be viewed here.