Utilizing Construction Technology to Cope with Labor Shortages

23. Construction Technology Labor Shortages

How BIM 360 Can Help Increase Productivity of Labor Force While Improving Retention, Recruitment, and Morale

The challenge of finding employees in the United States continues to grow. The release of the 2019 June jobs report by the Labor Department indicated the gap between available jobs and job seekers is 1.63 million. That’s the largest since 2000 when the statistic was first tracked.

Research by Korn Ferry indicates that the gap in the United States could be as high as 12 million by 2030. Shortages are pervasive across the board, from low-skilled to high-skilled workers, and occur in nearly every industry, including construction.

If the long-discussed national infrastructure bill is ultimately passed, the challenges related to finding employees in the construction industry will grow substantially.

To fill the gap, construction companies are turning to technology, including automated machinery, drones, and robots. In addition, construction companies are utilizing BIM (Building Information Modeling) to help raise the efficiency of their staff both behind the scenes and on the worksite.

Utilizing Construction Technology to Cope With Labor Shortages 3

Lost Labor’s Impact

The labor shortage impacts construction companies when it comes to hiring and conducting business. The time and cost of hiring increase when potential employees are able to be selective and demanding, which lengthens the process. Salaries must be increased to entice potential hires and to match or exceed the competition.

Due to the labor shortage, companies are trying to poach competitors’ employees with promises of salary increases and extra perks. This happens openly on construction sites.

It’s natural and beneficial for working relationships to develop between construction company personnel and the construction company’s employer during lengthy construction projects. If the employee who was the conduit for the construction company and its employer leaves, the association between the two entities could be damaged, resulting in the construction company losing business.

In addition, some people in the field build up areas of expertise regarding a project and become the glue that holds everything together. While no employee should be irreplaceable, losing key personnel can be costly in time and money. New employees must be brought up to speed, which decreases productivity.

With the loss of key personnel, morale will also likely take a hit. Those left behind are burdened with increased hours and responsibility. Employees who relied on an expert for knowledge will feel frustrated and maybe even uncertain, which could lead to errors on the job.

The situations noted above can combine to create a vicious cycle: An employee leaves a company/project, which causes a hole in the team. The hole in the team causes other employees frustration, and therefore they are more willing to accept an offer from another firm, leaving the original company with an even wider gap to fill.

Work Smarter, Save Money

The technology boom has affected every industry, and the pace of technological know-how and growth seems to increase daily. Businesses and industries that do not keep up with technological innovations are suffering, and even dying.

Ever since the creation of hydraulic and pneumatic devices which led to earth-moving equipment in the 19th century, the construction industry has relied on technology. ArchDaily pegs the conceptual underpinning of BIM back to 1962 and Douglas C. Englebart’s paper “Augmenting Human Intellect.”

The term BIM came about in the early 90s, and usage of the technology continues to grow. However, some companies are reluctant to engage in work that relies on BIM.

This reluctance can prove costly, as implementing an automated, cloud-based construction management system such as Autodesk® BIM 360TM leads to numerous positive outcomes. The software helps deliver projects on budget and on time or even better. It also can assist companies in dealing with labor shortages.