Monthly Archives: October 2016

Problems with labor in construction world

In this election year with all of the turmoil of the change of power there has been an upsurge in home improvements. People seem to have money again for changing their living areas. Not moving but hunkering down where they are with adjustments. We have seen a increase in re configuring the current living space jobs and making add-a-level additions to increase usable space. Also more knock down and re-build on the same footprint homes.

We have run into a serious problem with this increase of business.  The lack of skilled laborers willing to work. I don’t want to jump on the millennial bash wagon but…. It has become hard to find good starter workers. Construction is a hard physical job that is also mentally taxing if you are also learning the trade. Also it requires a certain attitude to be around the yelling and talk of a construction site. It takes a intelligent person to hear and implement skills that won’t be taught like in a school setting. Often it will accompanied with colorful language. No participation medals or trophies. Not much “Good effort I know you tried your best” in this business. If you don’t do it right you could put the entire job in danger and you will hear about it. It’s a long day and week. Up and down ladders,  carry wood, carry shingle bundles up ladders and more. The job includes sweeping up and collecting trash. It includes doing whatever is asked for in a speedy way with no whining. You would think that isn’t much different from most people’s experience on their first job. Questions are good but questioning why you have to do it are totally different matters.  Yes ask how to actually do what is being asked for is preferable than doing it wrong,  if you don’t understand the directions. But question why it needs to be done and why not do it this way is not. They think they know a better way after their 12 minutes on the job. They seemed to be surprised that they are tired at the end of the day. It’s shocking that it’s hard to wake up the next day. But this is a real manual labor job.

Communication, as in most parts of life, is very important in construction world. Making sure you have the right materials and skill sets in place is the core job of the boss or foreman. It takes a special plate spinner to keep a job site running efficiently. So you need truthful workers who tell you what they can do and then do it correctly. It’s very obvious if their resume was padded. If you don’t really have experience with framing don’t say you do because you could ruin the job. Accidents do happen but using the wrong tools or not knowing where to place the nails is a dead giveaway that you don’t really know what you are doing. We have seen it all. Under promise and over deliver is much better when starting a new job. Tell us you have limited experience. Tell us it’s been years since you did something. Tell us you don’t think the last person who “taught” you did a good job can you show me? Compliment the foreman and say you do it much better than me can you show me. THEN pay attention and learn it. Practice at home. DO what you need to do to get it right. This is a skilled labor job and it takes time and repetition to learn those skills.

It’s also hard to find older workers willing to work for someone else. We do our jobs on and by the book. That means we pay worker’s comp and liability insurance. We pay taxes. This industry is ripe for independent contractors who can pick up work without the headaches of being on the books. It’s also a strong person who can go from being their own boss to listening to another tell them where and what to do. Also making a good personality fit to create a strong working crew is difficult. You can’t just see it on paper resume’s but observing it in the field. You never make a mistake in hiring someone just in not firing them.