Attracting New Talent in a Construction Market Where Employees Have the Leverage

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Robison Wells

The construction industry needs new blood; labor shortages exist everywhere, and methods of attracting new hires increase in complexity.

Ezra Laniado, the founder of Los Angeles-based Landmark Construction, said: paying more is "the easiest way, which is the hardest way." Still, he can't appear to be desperate, or employees will ask for even higher wages. "It's a delicate balance," he said. "We have to be very foxy."

With an aging workforce (the median age in construction at 41) and a monthly turnover rate of 5.2% compared to 3.6% in other industries, a battle ensues to win recruits.

According to Branka Minic, CEO of Building Talent Foundation, "It's a war for talent. It's really bad out there. Everybody is screaming for people, not only in our industry. We need to fight for every person and be much more agile in our efforts."

Higher wages seem like the obvious answer, but it's difficult to limit what can be paid out. The Reservation Wage, an economic term that refers to the lowest average wage Americans without college degrees will accept for new jobs, has increased by 26% over the last year to a record $29.56.

Experts say, workers—especially younger laborers—want more than money. Joe Flanagan, senior employment advisor at career matchmaker Velvet Jobs, said: "more than 50% of millennials will remain in a job if they see potential career advancement, making training programs and reward systems a vital part of company structure."

Millennials aren't interested in strict hierarchies in which "the foreman is god, and everyone does what he says."

They want consistent, reliable jobs. According to Rolf Bax, Chief Human Resources Officer at, "It can be hard finding general laborers for sites because so many companies treat these people as disposable. If you make it known that people who want to learn new skills will be given an opportunity to do so, you will start to see more people applying."

In the face of the labor shortage, construction companies explore new ways to attract and retain talented employees.

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