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Best Practices For Creating a Diverse Workforce in the Construction Industry

If you had to make a list of some of the major pain points for executives and organizational leaders in the construction industry, talent would undoubtedly be right at the top.

According to a Construction Outlook Survey put together by the Associated General Contractors of America, roughly 81% of companies say that they have significant difficulties finding people to fill both hourly and salaried positions. A massive 72% of leaders said that the labor shortage would continue to be their biggest challenge in the coming year. Not only does a lack of skilled labor pose a risk to the health and safety of the workers that are on-hand, but it also causes problems like rising project costs and extended completion timelines for projects.

In essence, they are why building up the most diverse workforce possible is of paramount importance in the construction industry, especially considering the impacts imposed by COVID. Another study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 41% of the current construction industry workforce will retire by as soon as 2031. This is a situation that isn't going to get better on its own - it needs to be addressed sooner rather than later so companies can work to retain and develop leaders to grow into the future.

Generating Diversity in Construction

By far, one of the best ways to create a more diverse workforce in the construction industry involves making the industry itself seem as appealing as possible. During recruiting efforts, executives need to dive into the mission and goals of the business and go into great detail about everything a career in the field can offer someone.

Depending on the company, it may be a chance to see more of the country - or even the world. It's an opportunity to enjoy a purposeful job where employees get to make a real, positive impact on people's lives and the communities they live in. There are endless opportunities for advancement, and the pay, in many cases, would be hard to match elsewhere.

These are the types of talking points that executives need to be leaning into to help make a career in the field seem as attractive as possible - and as viable as they know it to be.

Likewise, organizational leaders need to embrace modern technology to allow them to work harder, not smarter. The construction industry has changed exponentially in the last decade even though the result has largely remained the same. In more recent years, technological advances have exponentially advanced the construction industry as well. Today, employees can use drones to help make surveying easier than it would have been in the past. They get to use innovative tools like augmented reality to conduct more thorough jobsite inspections. These types of tools also allow for more efficient (and not to mention safer) working environments.

All of this needs to be communicated to prospects - not just so that they again realize that a job in construction is more than they probably thought it was, but to also make sure they better understand the situation they're walking into.

It will take a true "all hands on deck" approach - particularly on the job site - to not only create a diverse workforce but to maintain it as much as possible. Verify that all signage and safety posters on a site reflect the diversity you're trying to create. Make sure people understand they need to call out bad or otherwise hostile behavior. In other words, be prepared to lead by example - if you're able to get to that point, a more diverse workforce will follow.

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