Houston is growing at a rate most cities could only dream of so why are skilled workers so hard to find? According to the City of Houston and other sources, $70B in construction and development projects are about to hit the market. A major fear and legitimate concern across all industries is the lack of skilled workers available for the new jobs that will be needed to fulfill the contracts coming down the pipeline. There is no doubt that skilled, quality workers are already hard to find. With thousands of jobs in demand, the question is where will businesses find these workers? Most small and minority-owned firms are at a huge disadvantage because they don't know how to plan ahead for these shortages and that's if they are even aware they are coming. There are construction firms already having to go to other states to find the workers they need to finish projects on-time and on-budget. These problems are not new. They began to surface as early as last year according to local news station report ABC 13 (May 2013), “Our area and its economy are growing so quickly right now that construction companies are having a hard time keeping up with demand. It's difficult for them to hire enough people, and that's creating a variety of problems. Worker shortages are here and driving up wages, so projects like new office towers and even home remodeling is going to cost more." As we speak, the increase in wages will cut in to profits and growth especially for minority-owned firms that are not prepared; making it even more difficult to capture these opportunities hitting our market.
As a matter of fact, according to the Association of General Contractors, lack of skilled workers is hitting all construction sectors. These challenges are being fueled by lack of young construction professionals being trained, the increase in project opportunity and the fact that most skilled workers are on large construction jobs; leaving less skilled workers for other projects. On top of that, when you do find the workers you need it cost business owners a whopping $60K for just one bad hire. It's worth every penny of time and resources to ensure you have the right hiring and retention strategies in place.
The question is - without a clear strategy in place, how will companies overcome these challenges even if they do qualify and win these projects?
Strategies to Explore:
- Attract strong talent by offering benefits and perks that outshine your competition and don't be afraid to get creative and think out of the box.
- Retention strategies include packages that have benefits, healthcare, specialized training, competitive wages, and balanced working environments.
- Go to job fairs at local government organizations such as Texas Workforce Commission, community colleges and local universities or search the job boards
- Look out of the state and local area to expand your options. Limiting your options to local resources only is a big mistake.
- Internal job referrals from other employees can be one of the most effective strategies to get the help you need fast
- Create a strong leadership and management training program so that they are skilled in developing their teams. Good people work for good companies and good managers.
- Don't leave anything to chance. Make sure every system and process is thought out. Good workers enjoy working for streamlined, efficient and well-managed businesses that have growth potential.
- Hire a recruiting firm that decreases your time and money investment and has a proven strategy to find qualified, skilled workers... it WILL save you money and TIME in the long run.
- Build a culture so that people want to work for your company and stay with you for years to come.
Of the numerous strategies that could help minority construction companies, these are a few that can make a difference right now. For more strategies and tactics to hire and keep top talent, ask experts or attend training courses that have implemented proven strategies for attracting, hiring and retaining top talent. Look for specialist that have reduced turnover, increased the talent pool and have created a healthy pipeline of qualified skilled workers.
Most importantly, work with the key players on your team and make sure everyone is focused on hunting for the best talent. Making your leadership and executive team aware of how important it is to attract and keep good workers is one of the most important roles you'll have as a business owner.
For more information, go to GrowthSmart.