Construction companies rely on their workers. Strong workforce management is the key to getting projects completed and invoices paid. Having a thorough understanding of the skills, certifications and experience of your workforce allows you to accurately bid and schedule jobs as well as identify skills gaps within your organization.
Having this skill is more important than ever with labor shortages accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to reports, nearly 9.4 million jobs were lost during the pandemic and it’s estimated that at least 975,000 of those jobs were in construction, likely due to the pandemic forcing some workers into early retirement or other industries.
Companies in the construction industry must create a talent pipeline that can feed current and future projects. Creating a pipeline of talent comes down to recruiting both externally and internally. Talent managers identify the people and development needed to meet and overcome current and future challenges. Utilizing workforce management technology is the place to start.
What is Workforce Management?
Workforce Management (WFM) is an organizational approach used to optimize employee productivity and efficiency. It includes resource management, scheduling, forecasting, data management, analytics and communications. WFM is not a new idea; industries have been using it for generations but now construction is picking up the torch and professionalizing it across the industry.
Today, Workforce Managment is being used to figure labor costs, typically the largest unknown for projects. But Brian Witt, Customer Manager for LaborChart, an Arcoro partner, says the WFM of many construction companies needs improvement.
He says, “Every contractor is practicing workforce management, whether unknowingly, or unequipped. What I mean by unequipped is I might know that I have labor management or workforce management practices in place. But I have labor meetings, maybe weekly or biweekly that can last hours, and include everyone in the organization from the owner or CEO down to the project managers. This is a clear sign that I have the right processes and people potentially involved. But I don’t have the technology there to support it.”
“More often than not,” Witt says, “if I try to actually map out my processes, I don’t know exactly who’s accountable or responsible for partaking in each of the steps of workforce management.”
Witt adds without proper technology, WFM practices can be fragmented, non-standard, lack accountability, have redundant and retroactive inefficiencies, have high risk with low-support and low security, and are disconnected with inaccurate data and decisions.
More contractors are seeing sustained success by aligning and enabling their people, processes and technology. It’s not just putting a tool in place. It’s recognizing, adopting and evolving a business practice, says Witt.
“Technology enters the scene with workforce management, and now, these labor meetings become mitigated if not nullified. I now have time for forecasting, labor, labor planning and exit strategies.”
Using Workforce Management to Know Your People
With a tight labor market, it’s more important than ever to find the right people to fill needed roles. The first step in doing this is knowing who you already have in place, their skill sets and certifications.
“The first step in this whole workforce management process is to know your people. Know where you’re going and where you need some training in place. Usually, that comes from within,” says Gary Fuchs, Sr. Workforce Advisor, LaborChart.
Once all this information is collected, it should be put into a platform that can be utilized to help collaboration between teammates. For example, a platform like LaborChart’s allows project managers to see where there are shortages, where an organization can promote from within to fill supervisor positions and backfill with installers, journey workers, apprentices and entry-level workers.
“You’re not going anywhere unless you have the supervisors in place to be able to take on that next job,” Fuchs adds.
Understanding your workforce also helps with project planning. Developing a plan for each project means identifying when you’ll be ramping up and who will be required.
“Once you’ve identified needs through requests, you can identify individual workers,” explains Fuchs. “With workforce management software, you can see what jobs they’re on, and how long they’re scheduled to be there. You can filter by job title, certifications and experience.”
Now that you know your workforce and what they can do, you can identify any holes or skills gaps that exist. That’s where Arcoro comes in.
Creating Your Talent Pipeline
As mentioned above, creating a talent pipeline to work on your projects comes down to recruiting both externally and internally, identifying people with potential and providing development opportunities. This is done with the intention of meeting and overcoming current and future challenges. Three of Arcoro’s products can help with this process: an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), Performance Management software and Learning Management System.
- ATS: An ATS can help you recruit candidates based on the skills your Workforce Management platform has identified. ATS can pinpoint skills from the start, whether that’s being bilingual, having certain certifications or experience.
- Performance Management: Arcoro’s performance management system uses skill cards that can alert managers to trends, strengths and weaknesses by an individual division or team. Performance management can alert employers as to whom might be a good candidate for a supervisor position.
- Learning Management: A learning management system (LMS) can be used to upskill or reskill your workforce. An LMS is designed to track specific training, licenses and certifications achieved by workers. It can be used to upload customized training plans for workers and also send out notifications to key stakeholders when licenses, certifications, or training need to be updated or completed.
Using a Workforce Management solution like LaborChart with Arcoro’s software solutions empowers construction companies with the knowledge about their people and their skills. Internal recruiters can develop learning plans based on this knowledge to make sure you have the necessary workforce to efficiently complete projects.
Using technology to track and bolster your workforce will better prepare you for the challenges ahead. And training metrics, licenses, certifications and employee experience can be used to bolster bids and compete for more business.
To hear more from the experts, view our webinar.
Experts from Arcoro and LaborChart share their thoughts in more detail about how to master Workforce Management.