Becoming an employer of choice is critical to attracting and retaining the most qualified and skilled craft labor force for your construction projects. Scott Marshall, Vice President of Global Human Resources at Jacobs, notes that focusing on what he calls “the people side” of a project site is what can make the difference in many cases between being an employer of choice, rather than an employer of last resort.
The “people side” of a project includes all the things that make your site a better environment for all who work there. This includes making sure there are grassy areas and picnic tables for breaks, providing free parking or shuttles for employees, equipping lunch tents with microwaves, maintaining clean and well-functioning restroom facilities, and offering cool-down areas in summer and warm-up areas in winter. It also involves training and career advancement opportunities for your employees, sending the message that you are invested in developing their skills and keeping them on your team for the long haul.
Such considerations need to be addressed during the planning and execution phases of any project. “Some of these factors might seem like minor details,” says Marshall, “but they actually make a huge difference to the skilled craft professionals working on your project.” He adds that too often, employers don’t place enough emphasis on these aspects of planning their projects. “Everyone puts a lot of time and energy into figuring out where they are going to get the people, but not always enough into identifying and making available the kinds of support that those people will need in the field once they’ve been hired.”
“This is especially important in the current market,” continues Marshall. “Some crafts are hard to find, even during what might be considered a normal or down market. For example, mechanical crafts are generally hard to come by. As the market continues to escalate and demand for skilled labor increases―particularly in the Gulf Coast―focusing on ‘the people side’ can give you the boost to being an employer of choice: an obvious pick for people who have the power to choose which project casino online they want to be a part of.”
Marshall explains that at Jacobs, taking “the people side” into account is a priority at every job site. As one of the world”s largest and most diverse providers of technical professional and construction services with more than 66,000 employees in more than 35 countries, Jacobs has a vast global workforce and strives to be an employer of choice around the globe. The company does this through communication with its craft employees that demonstrates how they are valued and offers them good reasons to spend their careers with Jacobs.
“It’s a different kind of conversation,” Marshall goes on to say, “To help someone see all the opportunities they can have with our company. To show them that they could someday manage a project like the one they’re currently working on. Helping people figure out where they want to be in 10 or 20 years and showing them the steps they need to take to get there, and then actually helping them take those steps―well, if you can do that, then you have employees who want to stick around. Now the conversation is not all about wages; it’s about the bigger picture.”
In addition to creating a job site where people want to work and giving them the training and support they need; another way Jacobs works to fulfill staffing requirements on its projects is by taking advantage of all the labor data that is available, including that from the Construction Labor Market Analyzer® (CLMA®). Jacobs has been inputting data into the tool since its inception.
“We use the CLMA® daily,” says Marshall. “This is especially the case now that more owners are sharing their project data. Now we have a picture of that demand side, and we can tweak the information and see how it might impact our projects. Prior to the owners getting involved, we couldn’t do this with any degree of certainty.”
Having the owners involved in workforce development is vital, says Marshall. “Historically, when it comes to whose responsibility it is to develop the workforce, there’s been finger pointing. Owners would say the contractors aren’t doing enough. Contractors would say it’s up to the owners. The truth is, it’s a team effort and everyone needs to get involved for the best project outcome.”
Being an employer of choice takes thought, planning, and work. But it’s well worth the effort. “It really comes down to people,” Marshall reiterates, “Everyone in our industry―owners and contractors alike―must work together to showcase construction careers, and really show people the benefits, advancement opportunities, and companies that care about ‘the people side’ of things.”
“If we take these steps now, we can build a workforce that will build our projects now and for years to come.”
The CLMA® is an online application designed to help owners, contractors, unions and other industry stakeholders dynamically understand the skilled labor market in a collaborative environment and know how to more effectively manage project labor risk.