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According to Associated Builders and Contractors, the construction industry needs to attract an estimated 546,000 additional workers on top of the average hiring pace in 2023 to meet the demand for labor. The research underscores what many know: A severe labor shortage must be addressed.

There are ample opportunities to fill the skilled labor gap, and recognizable players, including builders, suppliers, government agencies, and more, are leaning in with solutions. More funding for education, starting apprentice programs, growing diversity among the workforce, and combating outdated perceptions are all efforts at work.

I see many parallels between manufacturing and construction, and we need to remember that retention is also essential if we are to have a healthy workforce. We've employed the methods below to create the right setting for our team, leading to higher job satisfaction and less turnover and doing so with a minimal budget. As a result, in 2023, nearly 67% of Andersen’s new hires in the Bayport, Minnesota, area were referrals.


Effective Communication

Whether it’s a commitment to excellence, innovation, or sustainability, it is a leader’s responsibility to unite the team around a shared vision. Hosting large team huddles and small group sessions to go over business priorities, opening the floor for honest questions, and requesting feedback play a crucial role in fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose among team members. Some tools to get people talking include anonymous surveys and small group meetings.


Recognition and Appreciation

My top tip is to remember the power of opening and closing conversations with “how are you” and “thank you.” In the building industry, where craft, skill, and expertise are highly valued, acknowledgment and appreciation go a long way. Recognizing skills and contributions boosts morale and instills a sense of ownership and commitment, and celebrating achievements fosters a positive atmosphere.


Professional Development

Offering training programs that build skills and careers helps to attract top talent and contributes to the company’s long-term growth and stability. Apprenticeship programs, mentors, and other industry learning opportunities lead to whole-person development and growth.


Diversity and Inclusion

Leaders should actively promote inclusion within their teams, valuing each individual’s unique perspectives and experiences. In my role, focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion comes naturally as I work to connect with each employee and their story. Five years ago, when I learned that our employees represented 15 different countries, I ordered flags representing each country and hung them at the entrance so each employee could see their culture represented in our workplace. Today, our flag count is up to 36. This simple and low-cost update enables every person to feel they have representation at their place of employment.


Adapting to Change

In the ever-evolving landscape of skilled labor, adaptability is a key attribute. Leaders set the example, showcasing flexibility, vulnerability, and willingness to learn in the face of industry changes, technological advancements, and market fluctuations. Embracing change ensures the team remains relevant, resilient, and equipped to tackle new challenges head-on.

Navigating the challenges of a tight labor market for skilled workers requires a strategic and holistic approach. While we all join forces to address the underlying causes of the labor shortage, leaders can also positively grow teams, skill sets, and, ultimately, business.

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