A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

C3 Owners Feel Impact of Workforce Shortage

Workforce and Shiny Things

On occasion, Construction Career Collaborative (C3) will convene a round table of Owners to discuss items pertinent to our mission. I love to be part of these conversations as I am always inspired seeing what C3 brings to the industry. We are critical and can produce an impact on the day-to-day operations of C3 owners and contractors. At our latest round table, we discussed the "shiny things" that capture the attention of Owners the most.

I was not surprised to see the top three shiny things are schedule, cost, and quality. These three seem to never change and are universal to Owner, General Contractor, and Specialty Contractor alike. Why are these three so critical to everyone? I believe the answer is - the bottom line. These three have the largest impact on the profitability of the building program. Schedule indicates when the building is available for use. For some owners, this translates to them being able to earn revenue from the built environment through service offerings or rentals while for others it may represent the timeline for moving their business or their tenants into new spaces. General contractors value schedule as it is part of their delivery contract to the owner and late projects cut into their revenue as well. And what about cost and quality. If the cost exceeds the estimate, money is lost by some or all parties. If the product is substandard, the rework and maintenance are again impacting the total amount the project can earn.

So where does workforce fit into the top three shiny things? Schedule is directly impacted by having a highly skilled and sustainable workforce that can meet the timeline of the project. While there can be scheduling delays that are outside of workforce, like material shortages or delays on permitting, having enough workforce to complete the job continues to be among the top concerns of contractors across the nation according to the AGC CEO, Stephen Sandherr. Cost may seem counter indicative to workforce because a skilled workforce is more costly. However the cost of building the project is a mere 20% of the cost of the project over its lifetime. If the cost of the initial build is slightly higher but lowers lifetime costs then the initial investment in a higher level of talent is worth it. Cost and quality are always connected. The better the workforce is at their craft, the more likely they are to produce a high-quality product with less rework and lower lifetime maintenance costs. Quality expert, Phil Crosby, reminds us that "It is always cheaper to do the job right the first time."

The last two shiny objects we discussed with Owners were safety and sustainability. I'm sure I don't have to talk about safety and the workforce but just in case you want a reminder, I will. A safe project sends everyone home in the same shape they arrived. This allows them to arrive again the next day. Want to shortcut the project by not providing safety? Most Owners are not going to let you and if you do sneak it by them, be ready for accidents, lawsuits, and criminal charges as was evidenced just last week in Colorado. This brings me to sustainability. The sustainability of a building is the direct result of the construction of the building which is completed by a workforce that is highly skilled. Sustainable building requires craft professionals that work for contractors who are dedicated to maintaining and developing skills that keep pace with building sustainability technology.

At the end of our discussion, it was clear that the Owners around the table all want the same General and Specialty Contractors to be on their jobs and the competition for those with the best workforce programs is fierce. One Owner compared it to reserving a car in the company fleet. When you look at your full fleet it is clear some cars have better maintenance records and tires with plenty of tread while others appear to have mechanical issues and bald tires. You want to make sure that the car you hire to build your building is of the first variety and sometimes there just aren't enough to go around.

Preparing contractors to provide a highly skilled "fleet" of craft professionals is the core of the mission of C3. At the end of the day, C3 is a workforce organization dedicated to providing Owners with safe, skilled, and sustainable contractors that can address all their shiny things.

Whether you are a Champion or just beginning your workforce journey we are here to help. Want to step up your workforce investment, attend C3's course, Driving Business Results Through Talent Management. Need to outline a game plan to make sure you can scale your training plans to help you grow new workforce, call a Learning and Development Business Partner for consulting services. Dedicated to taking your company to the next level of workforce management, certify your craft training employees through the NCCER Construction Workforce Development Professional Certification program.

Whichever route you chose the end will be the same. Your company will be better positioned to give Owners the schedule, cost, quality, safety, and sustainability they demand!