It’s been nearly two years since the pandemic disrupted the entire world and its ecosystem. And, while the construction industry felt the economic impact of inactivity stemming from the COVID-19 lockdowns, it joins industries nationally in feeling the lingering aftermath.
Between delivery delays, supply chain issues, worker shortages and mental burnout, COVID-19 it still making a devastating impact with challenges facing the construction industry.
The good news? Between the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed in November, and stimulus from COVID-19 relief, there’s a growing demand for construction projects.
While construction industry is optimistic about the market, organizations cannot avoid the elephant in the room. One of the biggest issues facing the construction industry is attracting and retaining workers.
In order to keep up with demand in 2022, the industry needs qualified, skilled craft professionals. More than a half a million, to be exact.
According to a CNN report, the construction sector lost more than 1 million workers during the shutdown. While the industry has recouped nearly 80% of its workforce since then, the Labor Department still has it trailing in workers from pre-pandemic levels.
Beside losing more people than the industry is bringing in, the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) recently reported that the industry needs 650,000 qualified craft professionals to keep up with the predicted demand.
Today’s construction industry cannot afford to wait around, impeding its own productivity by using archaic processes and methods in the field. Rather, it’s time for construction to embrace the inevitable digital transformation to engage today’s workforce.
Here are ways digital solutions can attract and keep skilled craft in the field during this competitive hiring market:
Give them data in the palm of their hands
In today’s technology-driven era, project mangers no longer need to rely on weekly reports to see what is happening on the site. Project managers cannot manage what they cannot measure — and when each team is operating in their own system to get their job done, it’s nearly impossible to gain insight into project status and resource activities. As technology advances, project managers can advance too with an ERP for EPC companies. There’s the opportunity to gain instant access to daily activities and reports so that project managers can see what is happening on the site in real-time.
With supply chain issues and delivery delays, project managers can at least find peace knowing they can make corrections, notify contractors of schedule changes or approve change orders instantly.
Control uncertainty — optimize resources
Construction companies must lean on technology and leverage advanced analytics for better planning. The last thing skilled craft want to do is sit around in the field when they could be working elsewhere because of poorly informed decisions. There is no more time to waste relying on outdated solutions, manual intervention, and error-prone processes. In order to make timely decisions, companies need to make sure all of their data is connected for updates and changes through an ERP for EPC companies. That means removing the need to rely on spreadsheets and disconnected applications. While employers can’t eliminate or control uncertainty, especially in construction, project managers can control other aspects that impact contractors’ jobs — such as scheduling, assignments or workload.
Improve Safety Standards
Companies must turn to technology to build a construction workforce that is safe, skilled and productive. Employees who feel that their health and safety is valued within the workplace are more likely to stand than look for jobs elsewhere. While there are injury and risks in all industries, getting hit by a piece of machinery in the field can make more of a significant impact on an employee than having them slip on a wet floor. Using digital tools in the field that help employees stick to OSHA/CCOHS guidelines reduces your liability and shows employee that you are making an investment in their health and safety. Companies can receive alerts in their human resource management systems or an ERP for EPC companies to say on top of certificates and regularly schedule breaks into the work schedule. Companies can also provide employees opportunities to hone their craft and skills by connecting employees to a learning management system through their digital Daily Log.
In order to overcome shortages in the field, companies can ramp up technology to boost efficiency and deal with disruption. Using digital tools can significantly improve on-site collaboration, improve some of the top issues facing the construction industry and leveraging AI-based analytics to forecast project duration and delays and shift resources to handle disruptions can enable more efficient operations in the field. Adopting cloud-based systems can boost project efficiency by allowing managers to address the most pressing issues at the time, connecting the front and back office and optimizing critical delivery processes.
Make it simple
As businesses shift to being more customer-centric, construction companies need to realize that their workforce is their customer. Improving the employee experience is paramount to solving challenges facing construction industry. As employees return to the field with increasing demands and expectations, they need simple tools that support their routines — not disrupt them. That means finding digital solutions that:
- Are simple and user-friendly
- Provide clear communication, job expectations and scope of work
- Automate tedious tasks that cause errors in the field
- Connect their time to payroll solutions so they can be paid in a timely and easy manner
The construction industry is already starting to change from the COVID-19 pandemic. But, as companies change and adapt to solve challenges facing construction industry, they must make decisions with their workforce in mind. Adopting digital tools that make it easier for workers in the field will go a long way in retaining and attracting skilled craft.
CEM Business Solutions can help. We analyze your processes and create a roadmap with your goals and values in mind. It’s time for you to gain innovative processes, solutions, and tools specifically for the EPC sector, so connect with one of our trusted consultants today.