Labor and Staffing In the Construction Industry

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From the desk of Gene Lilly:

Summer is in full swing and we want to wish everyone a safe and happy 4th of July. Our offices will be closed on Monday, July 3rd, and Tuesday, July 4th, returning to normal business hours on Wednesday, July 5th.

Construction projects are going nonstop with the dry weather and we see lots of progress throughout the region. We finally saw the Federal Reserve avoid another interest rate hike which signals improvements in inflation. However, they hinted that inflation hasn’t slowed enough and there may be another increase in the coming months as this Dodge Construction Network article discusses. Even with the possible increase, inflation looks to be trending in the right direction for the second half of 2023.

Labor and staffing continue to be major factors in the growth strategies of a contractor. One of the best ways to combat labor shortages is to focus on your current employees and culture. Instilling a culture of recognition and growth of your workforce ensures your best employees stay committed to the company. Satisfied employees also are eager to share their company culture with others which can greatly boost recruiting efforts. This newsletter discusses these topics and how you can set your employees up for success.

Keep Your People, Grow Your People

A construction company cannot open a job site, coordinate with subcontractors, or set up a string line. The people that work in the construction company do these things. While construction companies may look like a lot of equipment or a complex project delivery system, these are just tools for the people within. The construction company is a collection of deliberate and organized teamwork toward a common goal.

Human capital truly is the most valuable resource in a company. Lately, it’s also seemingly one of the more difficult to supply, thanks to the largest generation retiring and ever-growing alternative ways to make money. How do we fight this labor shortage trend? 1) Company culture and 2) Money. Paying competitive wages has always been a tenant of running any business. In the last ten years, (and especially the last three) the culture of a construction company has become more important than ever.

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows on job sites, but the days of “aggressive motivation” are quickly fading from prominence. Playing the game of “next man up!” with subcontractors and site labor is getting more dangerous with the ever-shrinking pool of talent. What can you do?

Keep Your People
Never underestimate the power of recognition, gratification, and education.

  • Something as simple as a pat on the shoulder and remembering everyone’s name (and using it) can go a long way. Dale Carnegie famously quipped “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
  • Jim King pointed out that the business owners used to just buy t-shirts for their employees’ kids’ sports teams. Now you take it one step further by attending those company-sponsored sporting events. Building relationships with the family members of your organization benefits everyone.
  • Some team members prefer to be given specific direction, while others thrive with autonomy and freedom to accomplish tasks as they see fit. Randall Jantzen of Leadership Resources shared an article discussing how to identify if your people are Barrels (develop the plan, need autonomy) or Bullets (directed activity, specialize in a task). Understanding these paradigms can make a difference on your management style and decisions.

Keith Rabois on Barrels and Ammunition.

Grow Your People
Continually improve your team through cultural engagement. There are countless educational resources to help people grow into their best selves. Don’t overlook internal programming though, such as structured senior/junior employee connections. Mentorship by a senior employee to a junior employee can pay off in spades and hopefully lessen the impact of a planned retirement or mitigate a potential unexpected company departure.

Tom Schleifer advises creating a development system within the company. Match a senior employee with a promising junior employee and develop a structure of continual mentorship. Union halls have done this with great success for years with journeymen and apprentices. This knowledge and culture transfer can also lessen the impact of planned retirements or unplanned “departures” from the company.

Tom Schleifer on Keeping The Team Together

Final Thoughts
If someone doesn’t fit the culture and refuses to support positive growth within the team, don’t be afraid to make a change. Just because people are hard to find doesn’t mean you should hang on to people who don’t want to get on The Energy Bus.


Back to Basics: The Foundations of Construction Contracts

GL : WA webinar

We partnered with our colleagues at Woods Aitken for a webinar in June covering the foundations of construction contracts. The webinar was in conjunction with the AGC Nebraska Building Chapter and offered to all members. We had a great turnout and very positive feedback.

This presentation would be beneficial to anyone on your team who is involved with contracts or managing projects. We would be more than happy to come to your office for an in-person discussion. Contact a team member for more information. We’ll bring lunch!

Summer Industry Events

The Spring and Summer are full of industry events and GLSB has been a participant in supporting the mission for many of our great associations. The AGC Building ChapterAGC Highway Chapter, and NUCA of Nebraska all held their annual golf scrambles. These events give us the chance to bring some our partners out to the golf course for a day of fun while supporting each association’s mission. Thank you to both AGC Groups and NUCA for putting on great events!

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ABC Coffee, Contacts, Content #1
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