There was a headline earlier this month that said the 2021 Great Resignation has now become the Great Regret, as 80% of the job hoppers wish they hadn’t quit their old roles, with Gen Z the most regretful. This points to the fact that workplace trends are evolving nearly as quickly as technology does. Are construction companies ready for the progression that is happening the workplace in 2023?
Perhaps one of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind is with an economic downturn on the horizon—and many companies turning to large layoffs—will the labor market still remain competitive? We know in some industries such as construction, there is still a very real and persistent labor shortage.
The AGC (Associated General Contractors of America) says construction firms added 25,000 employees in January and pay levels continued to increase at a faster pace than other industries. For example, average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers in construction grew by 6.2%, from $31.44 in January 2022 to $33.38 last month.
Still, even with new employees in construction, job openings at the end of 2022 totaled 359,000, which is the highest total in the 23-year history of the data. Construction still needs more workers, even in today’s current market conditions.
How can construction find more workers? What are some methods and strategies the industry can adopt to locate more workers in a competitive landscape? Let’s look ahead to 2023 to some of the top workplace predictions from analyst firm Gartner.
Get Creative: Perhaps one of the most appliable and helpful predictions is that many companies will pursue nontraditional candidates to expand their talent pipeline. Gartner explains that in order to fill these gaps companies will need to become more comfortable with identifying if a candidate is able to fulfill the task at hand—rather than looking to their credentials and prior experience. This will include relaxing formal education and experience requirements in job postings and reaching out to candidates from nontraditional backgrounds. This certainly sounds like something the construction industry might need to pursue, as many contractors look to find workers to fill positions.
Quiet hiring is a trend Peggy Smedley has discussed before—and it is one Gartner suggests companies will leverage to acquire new skills and capabilities without acquiring new full-time employees. Quiet hiring really isn’t new to construction though. This trend has proven to be very feasible, as construction is an industry that hires workers such as subs on a part-time, contract-basis for small projects and increasingly uses their talents, as needed.
Prioritize the Worker: Still even amid a competitive market, companies will need to prioritize worker health and rest in order to maintain their emotional resilience and performance. A July 2022 Gartner survey of nearly 3,500 employees found that when organizations offer proactive rest, they see a 26% increase in employee performance.
Hybrid flexibility will also evolve in the year ahead. Gartner suggests some organizations will stop limiting flexibility in the name of fairness and will pursue formal strategies for more flexibility for the frontline workers. To do this, organizations will provide frontline workers more control over their schedules, more paid leave, and more stability in work schedules.
Another trend, of course, is also DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) efforts. However, Gartner says many employees are saying the efforts are divisive—and that this can decrease workforce engagement, inclusion, and trust. To address this, in 2023 companies will engage resistant employees and address it before it evolves.
Leverage Technology: AI (artificial intelligence) can help in many walks of the workplace in 2023 and beyond. As one example, the technology can fill the gap for some of the missing workers in construction, but of course the only takes us so far.
Another way AI can help is by finding the right candidates for the right positions. Gartner suggests some of the more progressive organizations will create more transparency around such technology. In fact, in 2023, we will see some create an employee data bill of rights that will demonstrate how they collect, use, and store employee data. Of course, employees would have the option to opt out of such practices.
There are quite a few other workplace trends we will see in 2023 and beyond. We have a new, younger generation—Gen Z—enter the market and they bring a very different skillset to the market. It will be interesting to see how construction companies proceed in the year ahead, as the worker shortage persists, and new technologies emerge.
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