Four Ways to Address the Labor Shortage

Four Ways to Address the Labor Shortage

Last updated on July 22nd, 2022

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.