Four Ways to Address the Labor Shortage

Four Ways to Address the Labor Shortage

Isn’t it ironic? Just when prospects for record-setting spending in construction lay on the horizon thanks to the infrastructure law, you’re likely short on workers due to a labor shortage that is hitting the construction industry harder than most. What can you do?

While construction has been facing labor shortages for decades, the number of construction workers ages 25-54 decreased 8% in the last ten years alone. With an average retirement age of 61 and nearly 20% of current construction workers over age 55, the gap between the number of jobs and workers available is likely to widen.

According to a model created by the Associated Builders and Contractors, this year the construction industry will need to attract almost 650,000 new workers – that’s in addition to regular hiring demands.  Shortages are reported to cause project delays, quality issues, worker safety concerns, productivity decreases, and higher payrolls. Even though spending on construction is currently sluggish, the talent shortage remains the industry’s top challenge.

As reported by McKinsey & Company, construction companies must proactively address the labor challenge on three fronts: productivity; talent attraction and retention; and senior leadership engagement.


Focus on new ways to approach project planning and delivery, with an eye towards reducing labor required by rethinking project design and reinventing how work gets done.

  • Off-site and modular construction offers numerous benefits.
  • Digital technologies and analytics can help identify the best way to work and keep projects moving.
  • Adopting lean construction practices can shrink waste while driving sustainable improvements.

Talent Attraction and Retention

Every step in the talent attraction, acquisition, and retention process presents opportunities to improve.

  • Know where to find talent, with targeted job sites like;; and
  • Accelerate recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding by reducing timelines, cutting out extra steps, and automating with technology (the longer the process takes, the more likely you’ll be ghosted – a.k.a. blown off – especially by the younger generation).
  • Strengthen retention by finding out what your employees want beyond competitive pay – there’s growing interest in autonomy, flexibility, support, and upward mobility. Focus groups and surveys can help you gain insights into what matters most.
  • Build a talent pipeline with programs that support and promote skill development. Build relationships with high schools, trade schools, and colleges to create pathways to careers. Mentoring and apprenticeships are growing in popularity.
  • Consider non-traditional talent pools like veterans or formerly incarcerated individuals or returnships for people looking to return to the workforce after retiring. Diversify with more women and under-represented groups.

Senior Leadership Engagement

Protecting income and profits is a senior leader priority so getting them involved in supporting talent acquisition and retention shouldn’t be hard because of the direct link between the two.

  • Invite a senior leader to sponsor talent acquisition and retention as a strategic priority.
  • Work with leaders to establish Key Performance Indices (KPIs) to track and measure progress specifically related to talent and addressing labor costs across the value chaing.
  • Work with leaders to create a culture employees want to be part of and contribute to.
  • Invite leaders to celebrate and recognize talent.

What About the Fourth Way?

That’s only three ways – the title says four. We know, we’re accountants. We’re taking liberty to add the fourth category: technology. While it’s inherent in the first three, it bears having its own discussion, because beyond solutions that can help drive productivity, streamline recruiting and retention, and track KPIs, there’s big perception value around having state-of-the-art technology.

Up-and-coming workers don’t know a world without it. They understand how to use it better than anyone else to streamline communications, processes, intelligence gathering and sharing, project management, and more. If you want to show new workforce entrants that your company is a place where they can leverage higher skillsets and continually develop knowledge, the latest in technology is like food, water, and air to them – they can’t live without it.


While focusing on your staffing challenges, why not partner with RBT CPAs to handle all of your accounting and tax challenges? We’re the largest CPA firm in the Hudson Valley and recognized as a Great Place to Work. You can trust that we’ll do everything right the first time, so you can focus on other priorities – like labor. Find out what we can do for you — give us a call.

OSHA Updates: What’s New & What’s Coming

OSHA Updates: What’s New & What’s Coming

Even though summer has started, OSHA never takes a vacation. Here are a few highlights of Federal OSHA activities you may want to keep on your radar.

OSHA’s Heat Illness National Emphasis Program (NEP)

Federal OSHA’s Heat Illness NEP is leading the way to prevent heat-related illnesses and injuries at work.  On days when the heat index is 80 degrees F or higher, Federal OSHA intends to do field inspections; ask employers about heat hazard prevention programs; and assess the potential for heat-related illnesses and injuries. It will prioritize inspections for complaints and employer-reported hospitalization for heat hazards, while also conducting random inspections of employers in 70 high-risk industries on days when a heat warning or advisory is issued.

To protect your employees from heat-related dangers, educate them about heat-related illnesses; provide rest breaks, shade, and cold drinking water; and develop a heat illness prevention plan. Indoors, make sure cooling fans, air conditioning, and adequate ventilation is available. If you’re interested in doing more or learning more, here are some OSHA resources to help you get started.

OSHA starts process to update rules for occupational lead exposure.

According to recent research, adverse health effects from lead exposure can occur at lower blood levels than recognized in OSHA’s lead standards. Recognizing this, OSHA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise the standards and is seeking public input to help prevent harmful health effects in workers exposed to lead. The public is invited to comment on blood lead level triggers for medical removal protection; medical surveillance provisions; exposure limits; and provisions for personal protective equipment, housekeeping, hygiene, and training. Submit comments online by August 29, 2022 (refer to Docket No. OSHA-2018-0004). 

Proposed recordkeeping rule has state support.

OSHA’s proposed reporting rule for injury and illness has the support of 17 state Attorneys General. The proposed rule would require certain high-hazard industry establishments to electronically submit more information from Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses plus Injury and Illness Incident Reports annually and to include company name on submissions. The Attorneys General believe this will help employees and consumers take workplace safety into consideration when deciding where to work and what to buy, while empowering states to target enforcement. They are also encouraging that the proposed rule cover all workers (not just employees). If you have some thoughts about this matter, now’s your chance to be heard. Submit comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.

While you’re working hard to keep your employees, customers, and the public safe and healthy, you can depend on RBT CPAs to ensure your audits, financial statements, taxes, and more are healthy and beyond scrutiny. What’s more, our Human Resources Services division is available to assist you with all employee-related matters, including OSHA. To find out more about what we can do for you, give us a call today.

Don’t Get FOILed by FOIL Requests: Be Prepared to Move Fast

Don’t Get FOILed by FOIL Requests: Be Prepared to Move Fast

Updates to New York’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) on March 22 (and retroactive to December 29, 2021) are designed to make it easier to access public records by speeding up responses to requests for information and providing more detailed justifications for denials. Are your municipal agencies and public authorities ready to respond?

New York state leadership is taking responsibility for transparency seriously, as seen by not one but two FOIL amendments within the last year – one at the end of 2021 and another in March of 2022. FOIL is intended to provide the public – whether it’s a taxpayer, a reporter, a defense attorney, or someone else – with access to public records from government agencies.

As a result of amendments, ABC 50 Now (via reported FOIL requests now go directly to the agency managing the information (rather than starting with an Executive Chamber review) and each agency must post commonly requested information online to eliminate the need for a FOIL request.

Section 86 defines agency as “any state or municipal department, board, bureau, division, commission, committee, public authority, public corporation, council, office or other governmental entity performing a governmental or proprietary function for the state or any one or more municipalities thereof, except the judiciary or the state legislature.”

FOIL is overseen by The Committee on Open Government. Its Model Rules for Agencies, Section 5 Requests for public access to records details how and when an agency should respond to a FOIL request. Some noteworthy items:

  • A request can be verbal if records are readily available on the internet.
  • Within five days of receipt of a request, a response must be provided. This includes:
    – Asking for more details;
    – Granting or denying the request;
    – Acknowledging receipt of the request and providing an approximate date for granting or denying the request (which must be within 20 business days from the acknowledgement unless a written explanation is provided about why there is a delay and when the request will be fulfilled); or
    – If after acknowledging the request, disclosure can’t be met by the date noted, a written explanation for the delay and the date the request will be granted must be provided.
  • Several factors are used to determine a reasonable time to fulfill a request, including how big the request is, how easy it is to get the records, request complexity, the number of requests received by an agency, and more.
  • Failing to comply with time limits is construed to be a denial that can be appealed. This includes:
    – Failing to provide access to requested records;
    – Failing to acknowledge in writing receipt of request or denial within five business days;
    – Failing to provide an approximate date for fulfilling the request in whole or in part;
    – Approximating a date for fulfilling the request that is unreasonable;
    – Failing to respond within a reasonable time after the approximate date provided or within 20 days of acknowledging receipt of a request;
    – Granting a request within 20 business days of acknowledging receipt of the request, but failing to do so and failing to explain why in writing and when the request will be granted in whole or in part;
    – Failing to grant a request and provide a written explanation why and when it will be granted in whole or in part; or
    – Responding to a request stating more than 20 business days is needed and stating when the request will be fulfilled but that date is unreasonable based on the request.

Other changes related to the updated law include the elimination of a judicial hearing for a public records request as long as an investigating agency confirms release of information could hurt investigations or lives (Bliss, 2022, What’s more, failing to fulfill a request and having a viable reason for doing so could result in having to pay a requestor’s attorney’s fees should the matter be litigated.

While FOIL has been around since the 1970s, renewed focus on transparency and trust in government as a New York state priority likely means the recent law changes are a beginning rather than an end, and more is likely to come in terms of enforcement and precedence. New York’s Committee on Open Government website has more information to help you learn about and navigate FOIL (including training materials). It’s worth a visit every once and a while to ensure compliance.

While this article reviews key highlights, we need to say and can’t emphasize enough that this is a legal matter. If your agency is subject to FOIL, you should seek legal counsel to ensure compliance. In the meantime, it is important to recognize that a broad spectrum of subjects – including finance-related ones – are subject to FOIL. That makes using a respected, professional accountant with a track record for excellence even more important – why not give RBT CPAs a call to see what we can do for you?