Decreasing Turnover: Onboarding Tips for Construction Firms

Employee turnover can be especially troublesome in construction and the skilled trades. With profit margins running thin, the loss of resources represented by an employee who quits abruptly can be significant. Losing talented, skilled employees can also put a construction firm in a difficult situation, both financially and in terms of the time it takes to find and hire a replacement. The following onboarding tips for construction firms can give you some ways to establish a solid relationship with new employees that will increase the likelihood of them staying with your company.

onboarding tips for construction firmsEstablish a Connection

Take the extra steps to create a connection between your company and new hires. Have the company owner spend some time explaining the goals that are expected of new employees. Provide an introduction to all managers in the new employee’s chain of command. Introduce new employees to coworkers and the people they’ll be interacting with every day. Schedule a lunch meeting to let the new employee interact with managers or other employees in an informal setting.

Provide All Necessary Information

Give new hires all the information and resources they need to succeed in your company. Produce and distribute an employee manual or handbook that contains policies and procedures, contact information, and other important data. Thoroughly explain the company’s mission and what is expected of new employees.

Create Useful Relationships

Assign one or more employees to serve as the new hires’ point of contact. Coming into a new company knowing nobody can be intimidating, but if new hires have a coworker they can rely on when they have questions, the onboarding process will be much smoother and efficient.

Stay Consistent

Apply onboarding processes consistently among new employees. Don’t leave any new hires feeling left out. A feeling of “nobody did that for me” can create feelings of confusion or resentment that undermine employee loyalty.

Construction Monitor gives construction industry professionals the data they need to plan hiring goals and obtain the most promising construction leads. Contact us today for more onboarding tips for construction firms that will help you retain the best employees and decrease turnover.

NYC Construction Apprenticeship is Bursting with Diversity

The construction apprenticeship programs in New York City are richly diverse, providing consistent opportunities for women and minorities to enter the relatively well-paid construction trades. This is the word from Gary LaBarbera, the president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, writing in a June 10, 2016 letter to the editor in Crain’s New York Business.

apprenticeshipLaBarbera’s letter comes in response to a May 29, 2016 Crain’s opinion-editorial piece from Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams, whose observations prompted an assertion that minorities were not well represented in Brooklyn unions and other labor organizations.

Minorities in Construction

Among the 8,000 union apprentices who work in New York City, 65 percent of them are minorities, LaBarbera reported. With more than 5,200 apprentices consistently working in the city, the interests of women and minorities are well represented, according to LaBarbera.

The current state of opportunity for women and minorities in the New York construction is a significant improvement over conditions in the past. A December, 1993 study by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (Building Barriers: Discrimination in New York’s Construction Trades) concluded that women and minorities were severely underrepresented in the skilled construction trades, with minorities making up 19 percent and women only 1 percent of employees.

The report further noted that in apprenticeship programs, some 28 percent of apprentices were minorities and 3.4 percent were women.

Rising Minority Apprenticeship

The current statistics reported by LaBarbera indicate a significant improvement in numbers for apprenticeships.

Other programs, such as the Edward J. Mallow Initiative for Construction Skills, offer training and apprenticeship opportunities to minorities and women. The organization reports that 87 percent of the referrals it places in apprenticeship programs are African American, Hispanic, and Asian. About 83 percent of those referrals placed in apprenticeships remain in the construction industry and advance through the ranks to attain better positions and improved skills.

Construction Monitor publishes the most up-to-date information on housing starts, construction best practices, and important industry trends. Contact us today for more information on diversity in apprenticeship programs in New York and in other major metropolitan areas around the country.

Onboarding Tips for Construction Firms

Bringing a new employee into your company can often be a confusing, even intimidating process for the new hire. Even more importantly to you, employee retention can be strongly influenced by the new person’s experiences in the first few days of employment with your company. Here are some onboarding tips for construction firms that will help make a new hire’s initial experiences pleasant and efficient, creating a positive impression of your company and making the job transition easier.

  • onboarding tips for construction firmsTake care of the basics quickly and efficiently: All new hires have to go through the basics, such as filling out HR paperwork, going over company policies and procedures, and learning the layout of the building. Put processes in place that make these sometimes-boring basics as quick and efficient as possible. For example, create orientation packages that include essential paperwork, employee handbooks, and other information ahead of time so that no one has to spend time looking for needed material while the new hire waits.
  • Welcome your new employee: Make sure your new employee is introduced to the team he’ll be working with as well as representatives of important departments such as HR, payroll and training. Use your social media account to extend a broader welcome to new hires.
  • Give new employees what they need to succeed: Start employees off right by giving them what they need to be successful in your company. Discuss your brand and company culture and make sure your new hire understands what’s expected of them. Identify your new employees’ strengths and skills and areas that may need improvement. Start training as early as possible and assign your best trainers to work with new employees. Issue equipment or other gear quickly and without hassle. Assign new employees a mentor or a “work buddy” they can go to for advice, insight, and answers to questions.

Construction Monitor offers an array of information services to construction firms, including data on recent housing starts and suggestions for best practices to use every day. Contact us today for more information on employee retention and for additional onboarding tips for construction firms.

Are Women Falling Behind in Construction Apprenticeship Positions?

A pervasive stereotype of the construction industry is that it’s a man’s field, where few women are employed and fewer still are welcomed. The unfortunate truth of the matter suggests that this is very much the case: women are significantly underrepresented in construction employment and apprenticeship.

apprenticeshipFalling Behind or Falling Out?

The level of female employment in the construction industry doesn’t specifically show that women are falling behind in employment and apprenticeship positions. Instead, the employment numbers are so low that “falling behind” would almost amount to “falling out.” The daily reality is that women are not making many advancements in the industry, and that female construction employment is not increasing substantially.

This is not the fault of women who are trying to enter the construction trades. In an article in the Washington Post from June 11, 2014, reporter Vickie Elmer noted that construction employment is 97 percent male, a number that has remained unchanged for more than three decades. Elmer based her article on a report from the National Women’s Law Center covering on women’s employment in construction.

When the report was published, women were employed in some 47 percent of all wage and salary jobs in the United States, Elmer noted. In sharp contrast, women accounted for only 2.6 percent of all construction jobs.

Barriers to Employment

The barriers to women’s employment in the industry are significant. On-the-job harassment is a major obstacle that women face in construction. Generalized disrespect or a belief that women are physically unable to handle the rigors of the work is another. Women also face deeply held ideas that the construction industry is simply not a place for women.

In response, many local and national trade organizations are working to provide more opportunities for women in construction, such as the nonprofit Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) and state-level programs such as Minnesota’s Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA).

Construction Monitor provides the most recent and most relevant information on the construction industry. Contact us today for more information on employment and apprenticeship in the construction industry and how your business can expand programs to include more skilled women in the building trades.

Tips for Hiring and Keeping the Best Construction Employees

When the construction industry expands, the demand for skilled employees naturally goes up. Unfortunately for many companies, there are only so many employees available, especially in some of the more specialized areas of the building trades. As companies face this shortage of qualified employees, they must come up with ways to attract, hire and retain the workers they need. Here are some construction employment tips that can help you navigate these difficult personnel issues.

  • construction employmentTend to the basics: Good salaries, appealing benefits, vacation time, insurance, a safe workplace—all of these are considered basic by many employees. If a company appears to be holding back on these benefits, employees are going to be less willing to work for that company. Experts and specialists are especially likely to avoid working for a company that skimps on the basics.
  • Give employees autonomy: Employees like to be free to make their own decisions and control their daily activities. When you have employees you can trust, or when you hire professionals, give them the freedom and autonomy that makes them happy and energizes them to put forth their best effort. Younger workers, especially, need a degree of autonomy, according to reporter Emily Peiffer in an article on the Construction Dive website.
  • Provide opportunities to learn and improve skills: Make sure your employees have multiple opportunities to learn more about their own trades, along with chances to expand their knowledge into other areas. Give them access to training sessions, formal classes and direct experience or apprenticeships with older workers who have high-level knowledge and skills.
  • Explain why: Help employees attain a greater sense of purpose beyond the simplest one of “building a building.” Give your employees a real sense of why they are working on a particular project and what the building will be used for once it is finished.

Construction Monitor provides critical advice for today’s construction professionals, including data on housing starts, construction leads, and suggestions for best practices. Contact us today for more information on trends in construction employment and for ways to hire and keep the employees you need to keep your business viable.

Economists Forecast Another Good Year for Housing

When the housing market improves, construction employment picks up along with it. In terms of both new homes built and new hires, 2016 is shaping up to be even better than last year.

construction employmentSingle Family Homes Driving the Market

In February, housing starts rose 5.2 percent to their highest point in five months. For the year as a whole, housing starts are expected to increase by 12 percent. Spending on residential construction has also seen steady growth from 2011 and is expected to grow throughout 2016.

Despite the slump the single-family home market has been in recently, the outlook for this market is especially promising this year. The market grew by 7.2 percent in February and experts suggest the growth rate of the single-family home market will begin catching up with the multifamily market. Improvements in the job market are a major factor in this recovery.

The multi-family home market is still expanding, but at a slower pace. For 2016, a 5 percent increase is expected. Falling apartment vacancy rates show demand for rental units is still growing. Even so, experts predict this market’s recovery is nearly complete and the rate of growth will slow in the near future.

On the down side, applications for building permits fell by 3.1 percent in February. This is following a slight dip in December and no change in January. Because fewer applications for building permits signals less construction work in the future, this could mean a slowdown is ahead.

More Jobs for Skilled Workers

The outlook for the construction employment job market also bright. 71 percent of construction firms plan to take on new workers this year, according to a survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America. Of those, 8 percent plan to increase their headcount by 26 percent or more.

The majority of firms reported difficulty finding skilled tradespeople, such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters and drywall workers. This leads to delays that can stretch on for weeks if not months, slowing the industry as a whole.

For more in-depth information on construction employment, and the latest on construction leads, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Career Outlook: Construction Mangers in 2016

If you’re a construction manager, you know no matter how dedicated and enterprising you are, the whims of the market can catch you off guard sometimes. Keeping up on the current construction industry employment outlook is one way to make sure you’re ready for what comes.

construction leadsBright Prospects for Managers

Between 2006 and 2016, the employment of construction managers was projected to grow by a remarkable 16 percent. Considering the average employment prospects for all fields, the outlook for construction managers was above average.

Because the construction industry is expected to cool down somewhat in the near future, the growth of opportunities for managers is likely to slow. For the period between 2014 to 2024, employment for construction managers is projected to grow by 5 percent. That’s around the average employment growth for all jobs. Even though jobs may not be as abundant as they were in recent years, you’ll still find plenty of opportunities with residential, non-residential, and specialty trade contractor businesses.

One reason for the on-going increase in demand for construction managers is the increasing complexity of today’s projects. Your skills are needed to guide companies in using advanced construction technology as well as to navigate an ever-growing number of laws and regulations. Knowledge of multipurpose and energy-efficient buildings is also highly sought after.

Secure Your Future

The skill and knowledge it takes to manage modern construction projects means managers with a bachelor’s degree or higher and practical experience in construction will be preferred in the coming years. A degree in construction management, construction science or civil engineering will pay off well. Those who’ve completed internships also have an edge in finding construction industry employment.

As in the past, starting your own firm is one of the most accessible ways to achieve success as a construction manager. In fact, over the past decade, more than half of all construction managers were self-employed. This route is most promising for those with many years of experience in construction.

For an easy way to stay up to date on construction industry employment and construction leads, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Unemployment in Construction Continues to Decline

The outlook for construction workers is bright as unemployment in construction falls to its lowest point in nearly seven years. Contractors, however, face a number of challenges posed by the abundance of new job openings.

unemployment in constructionMore Firms Hiring Skilled Laborers

The unemployment rate among construction laborers stood at 7 percent in September, according to recent findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a drop of 0.7 percent from August. While it’s a ways off from the low of 6.2 percent in November 2007, it’s still appreciably lower than the 8.5 percent unemployment rate of September 2013.

Positions opened up in all areas of construction, but specialty trade contractors saw the most gains with 8,800 more jobs available than in August. Among the most in-demand workers are carpenters, concrete workers, sheet metal installers, and glaziers. In addition, some 6,200 jobs were added in building construction.

Gains in heavy-civil engineering construction jobs lagged behind with just 500 new positions opening. The employment outlook for nonresidential building construction workers remained at its August level, an improvement from the recent past when this segment lost jobs.

Competition for Good Workers May Grow

While lower unemployment in construction is an overall good sign for the industry, it also makes finding qualified workers harder. More than 80 percent of firms have trouble filling positions and that number is increasing, according to information from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). The result is more resources directed toward recruitment as well as delays when positions aren’t filled on schedule. The Southeast and Gulf states have been particularly affected by the labor shortage.

To compound the problem, fewer future workers are entering construction-related trades and those who are aren’t always getting the training they need. Many contractors have found new graduates from craft training programs aren’t qualified to perform the jobs available.

An October 2014 survey conducted by the AGC found contractors are looking to attract and retain employees by increasing pay, improving benefits packages, and offering the opportunity to earn performance bonuses.

For the latest data on unemployment in construction, contact Construction Monitor.


The U.S. Construction Industry has Shown the Highest Growth since 2007

Recent construction industry statistics show that after years of stagnation, US construction industry growth rates are increasing to their highest level in nearly eight years.

Gilbane Building Company, a global construction and facilities management firm based in Providence, Rhode Island, reported the highly encouraging industry growth data in its spring, 2015 “Building for the Future” economic report. The report’s results were cited in an article by industry journalist Jeff Yoders on the Metal Miner website.

construction materials

According to Yoders, the Gilbane report indicates that nonresidential construction projects begun over the last 12 months are expected to increase by at least 15 percent over 2014. This indicates the best annual growth rate in nonresidential construction since 2007, Yoders reported.

This 15 percent increase in construction growth will be maintained even if new nonresidential construction starts flattened out for the rest of 2015, according to Yoders. There is no indication, however, that construction spending is expected to go flat throughout the rest of 2015 or even beyond.

Yoders reported that new starts in nonresidential construction have been increasing, on average, 16 percent since the lowest post-recession point was reached in 2012.

Nonresidential starts between April 2014 and February 2015 also represent the best three-month and six-month averages since July 2008, according to Yoders.

The construction industry growth reported by Gilbane also means that demand for construction materials such as steel, copper, aluminum, and sheet metal will also increase in the coming months, Yoders noted.

The Gilbane report mirrors other industry sources that have seen upswings in growth for the construction industry in 2015 and beyond. For example, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reported increases in construction employment in more than 250 U.S. metropolitan areas between 2013 and 2014, which is expected to continue into 2015, with about 80 percent of construction companies expecting increased hiring in 2015.

Construction Monitor offers construction professionals the latest news and information on developments in the construction industry. Contact us today for more information on US construction industry growth rates and that the current growth in construction starts and new projects can mean for your company.

How the Construction Industry can Recruit and Train Modern Workers

The good news is that recent trends indicate a marked increase in construction employment across the country as the construction industry recovers and more projects begin. The bad news, however, is that there is a shortage of qualified workers to fill all the required positions created by this expansion of construction business.

construction worker

Industry sources suggest that a weakening of the educational and preparation programs that once supplied construction industry workers is partly responsible for personnel shortages. The fact that many construction workers and professionals are nearing retirement age, or have already retired, also plays a major role in labor limitations.

Modern construction labor requires not only strength and stamina, but also the ability to understand technology that was not available just a few years ago. Current construction workers must have a better grasp of this technology and how to use it to its best effect.

In an article by reporter Kimberly Hegeman on the For Construction website, the Associated General Contractors of America sets out some suggestions that can help alleviate the current labor shortage while improving construction worker recruitment and training. For example, the AGC suggests:

  • Reform the Carl D. Perkins Career & Technical Education Act, which was at one time the major source of federal funding for construction-related training and education.
  • Support private funding of craft training programs.
  • Improve the Workforce Investment Act. For example, the ACG supports making registered apprenticeship programs Eligible Training Providers, making it easier to get funding for tools and supplies for apprenticeship programs.
  • Support more, and more effective, partnerships between registered apprenticeship programs and community colleges.
  • Provide free community college career and technical programs to high school students.
  • Improve the processes to make it easier to create public schools with a concentration on career and technical education.

Construction professionals rely on Construction Monitor for important information on developments in the industry, including detailed data on employment and training trends. Contact us today for more information on construction worker recruitment and training and what can be done to ensure the industry has enough qualified workers to meet demand.