3 Staffing Tips for Construction Recovery

COVID-19 forehead check at construction site

As commercial construction recovers, there’s reason for optimism and room for growth. An Aerotek expert shares advice on staffing practices that can help.

With coronavirus response uneven across state, county and local lines, plus regulations that can fluctuate from week to week, the commercial construction industry has been dealing with an intense degree of uncertainty.

But there is cause for optimism in commercial construction.

A recent McKinsey report on the industry highlights a few areas of opportunity for construction firms who are able to respond proactively. The study showcases a 28 percent performance boost for the most proactive companies over the course of the last economic recovery, from 2007 to 2011, and expects the current recovery to bring similar upside.

To get an idea of how staffing fits into this industry outlook, we spoke to Aerotek Account Manager Nicholas Pino. He shares advice on resourcing methods that can help you position your construction firm for a stronger recovery phase.

Broaden your applicant pool

With the pool of available talent larger than it’s been in recent history, your firm should in theory be able to find people and finish each job fairly easily. 

But of course, it’s not that simple. 

Expanding your candidate pool can create flexibility while staffing projects and help you build a stronger team. “Anytime you add a filter to your job descriptions, it shrinks your candidate base and makes it harder to find a candidate,” says Pino, “but expanding your qualifications makes it easier to retrofit the work to the available talent.” 

Also, think of what you can offer incoming contractors that’ll make your projects a more attractive worksite. Companies with opportunities for training and advancement on the job will bring in motivated new talent.

Reevaluate your project timelines based on staffing needs

Most construction firms face an uphill battle to deliver planned work on schedule. 

Timing is important, with contractor delays having a cascading effect across projects, and individual skilled workers with necessary licenses differing in mentality, with family situations and in the ability to work or not during COVID-19. 

Knowing the details of each individual contractor’s status is an important way to gauge availability.

“A lot of people don’t feel comfortable coming back,” says Pino. “knowing the reasons behind that discomfort, such as a compromised family member, or particular safety concern, helps us understand how the labor pool is evolving.”

Leverage safety protocols as a recruiting advantage

Contractors and subcontractors talk. Right now, they’re talking about where it’s safe to work, who’s taking care of their workers and who is not. 

Ensuring workers feel safe is more than providing additional PPE. Start by instituting a solid health and safety plan and follow up by proactively sharing it with all workers. And if possible, provide additional PPE to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, including face shields, masks, gloves, and sanitizer where necessary. Going the extra mile makes a big difference. 

Working with a staffing partner is an easy way to accomplish this. “We can provide PPE to our contractors, so they don’t have to scramble to the local Walmart,” says Pino.

Emphasizing workplace safety and COVID-19 protocol is a small investment to make to secure the services of essential contractors and subcontractors, whose patience and flexibility are highly valued in an era of elastic scheduling on planned work.

Maximize your resources with a staffing partner

If your small or medium-sized firm doesn’t have the resources for a dedicated health and safety team, or access to educational materials that summarize local regulations, find a staffing partner who does. 

With regulations varying by region and evolving on an almost daily basis, sourcing your compliance concerns to a partner with dedicated resources allows you to focus on reaching your company's goals.

“There are a lot of legal and HR gray areas that are becoming more prominent,” says Pino. “We can get somebody on site. There’s a ton of protocol and testing and approvals from all ends. And we also have information and materials we can share.”

Key resources such as expertise, on-site safety protocol and employee resource materials can all be provided through a staffing industry partner. 

While project delays, public fund reallocations, and sector-to-sector variance have made completing commercial construction projects into a game of whack-a-mole, the industry’s recovery from coronavirus will be a long-term project.

What you do now can have an outsized impact on your firm’s future position.

To start a conversation about staffing strategy for upcoming projects, reach out to Aerotek.