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The construction industry is booming; it is one segment of the economy that will continue to experience growth in 2020. In fact, the industry is expected to be among the fastest growing segments over the next 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The demand for skilled labor is at an all-time high, making those who possess the know-how that much more marketable. Recent surveys show most contractors report difficulty finding qualified craft workers as more and more Baby Boomers exit the workforce. The construction industry needs to look at the Millennials and Generation Z to fill the gap but, in doing so, needs to work on changing its reputation to become a more attractive career option for younger generations. Let’s face it: the unusual hours, unsafe working environment and sometimes low compensation are unattractive.

The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) says that the construction industry is one that has often been labeled as a dirty, dangerous, roll-up-your-sleeves, blue-collar profession. Many industry stakeholders are working toward reshaping its image into one that’s more creative, innovative and collaborative in hopes of attracting skilled workers.

As such, it’s imperative to hire for hard and soft skills or behavioral traits. While tempting, leaders who focus 100% on tactical skills are missing out on better-suited, well-rounded candidates and, at the same time, creating an increasingly revolving door.

It’s these behavioral traits that impact the way individuals think and work. Simply said, organizations that focus on soft skills win.

Chief among these soft skills are the abilities to communicate both verbally and non-verbally. Communicating effectively ensures not only that a job is done correctly but can help prevent avoidable accidents on a jobsite, sometimes meaning the difference between life and death. In addition to communication, some other behavioral traits that should be considered include:

  • Being observant of surroundings;
  • Teamwork;
  • Problem-solving;
  • Conflict resolution;
  • Thinking on one’s feet;
  • Flexibility;
  • Decision-making;
  • A strong memory;
  • Actively listening;
  • Persistence;
  • Negotiation and diplomacy;
  • Emotional intelligence; and
  • Work ethic.

Leadership and employees should remember that non-technical skills are crucial to success. And those who exhibit those skills not only become a culture fit but also add to it, which can net greater creativity, innovation and collaboration.

Tips for Hiring Managers

So, in a fast-paced industry like construction with tight deadlines, how do hiring managers quickly vet possible hires and weed out the ones that won’t be a good match? Behavioral assessments can prove to be helpful. These behavioral evaluations are designed to effectively, simply and easily measure current and future employee skills. When implemented correctly, they can quickly help leaders decipher who will be well-suited for a position in the company.

Leaders in the construction industry can start filling in the talent gap by focusing on the hiring process and shaping culture. Putting emphasis on technical skills and behavioral traits will result in better teams and improved career paths for those coming through the ranks.

Tackling new hires is a great first step in shaping an organization’s culture. But management can’t afford to ignore the team members already in place. It’s wise to take a strategic pause and reassess current team members to really identify their strengths and weaknesses. Adjusting their current roles will achieve the best results for a company overall and for individual teams. Magic happens when leaders implement a talent optimization strategies.

Like anything in business, creating the optimal culture that attracts, retains and rewards outstanding talent won’t happen overnight. But the effort is worth the time and energy, creating a much-sought-after place to work. Those who choose not to, particularly those in the construction industry, will be left in the dust.

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