No question, the economy and the construction industry are in “reboot” mode after someone hit the “reset” button. Unemployment in the industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reached 27.5%. It is becoming clear that both the economy and the industry will recover slowly but probably not at 2005-2008 levels. Recovered, reset – and really different.
According to Gregg M. Schoppman, principal at FMI Consulting, in his article After the Storm — Thinking Past the Downturn published in the FMI Spring Quarterly, one of the dangers of this “reboot” period and prolonged recovery is that industry leaders may be too focused on tactical moves and, in some cases, neglecting the workforce they need to retain, retrain and “make ready” for the recovery. (This is critical in the design professions and is showing up more often in the construction side of the business.) Schoppman’s article presents a number of outstanding recommendations for using the “reboot time” to evaluate your current executive, support and field teams to make for certain that you want to keep them, to train them and to support them in the lean times so that they will still be here when the economy starts to move forward again whether that is late this year or in 2011. It is always difficult to consider those recommendations when the backlog is burning off and the projects on the horizon fall into the General Contractor’s vernacular of “Spread the work around to all of our preferred subs so that they can stay in business.” What are you doing to protect your key workforce during this “reboot”?