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The number one challenge contractors face nationally, by far, is an inability to hire and retain an adequate number of skilled craft workers. While businesses are having problems finding and retaining qualified employees in today’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery, the construction labor market has been tightening for years, and contractors are uniquely affected. According to ABC analysis, there is a shortage of over 500,000 skilled workers in the United States. There are various reasons for this labor shortage, but false perceptions of a career in construction are a primary cause. Many Gen Y and Z workers perceive construction as dangerous work, with poor income potential and limited career opportunities.

The fact that these negative perceptions are demonstrably false is not enough; successful contractors must intentionally and forcefully dispel them. Fortunately, contractors have many tools at their disposal, but it will take time and effort, and fully utilizing an ABC membership can help turn the tide. For instance, what if your company could be 645% safer than the industry average? Is a STEP Diamond award an excellent recruiting tool? Absolutely! 

Another factor that is frequently overlooked is an employee benefits program. Many contractors do not have any employee benefits at all. When it comes to hiring and retaining good employees, benefits work. Why does every Fortune 500 company have a robust benefits offering? In a word, outcomes. Contractors not only compete against other contractors for the next generation of talent, but Amazon, Starbucks, and other leading employers too. These corporate behemoths shower benefits on recruits and offer retirement, medical, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance plans, hiring bonuses, paid-time-off (PTO), and attractive career advancement opportunities. Contractors who offer these benefit programs will compete more effectively, and these programs do not have to be expensive and hard to administer.

If contractors want to find and hire people with unique talents and vital skillsets, they are going to have to tackle what corporate staffing executives call “talent branding.” Most construction job descriptions haven’t changed in 30 years and possess a “must-have” approach instead of a “we need you and recognize you have a choice” mindset. Take a look at the “Typical Job Description” versus the “Impactful Job Description” examples, which were customized from current job descriptions on Indeed. Which company would you want to work for? 

If you have trouble hiring and keeping employees, ask yourself one question: “Am I recruiting and retaining employees the same way contractors did a decade ago?” If so, that’s likely a problem. A skilled craft worker can enjoy a life-long career of excellent opportunities for advancement and significant compensation while enjoying exciting challenges using advanced technology while being healthful and uninjured. However, this scenario will only occur if contractors meet employee expectations for training, career advancement, employee benefits, and health and safety.


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