Navigating the labor shortage: Tips to find and keep talent
July 27, 2022
Over the last few years, contractors and home improvement providers have faced a seemingly endless parade of challenges: supply chain issues, sky-high lumber costs, and heightened interest from homeowners looking to update their work-from-home spaces.
Now, with home renovation requests still elevated, most contractors are also concerned about labor shortages. In some ways, it’s not a new problem. Skilled laborers have been on the decline for many years. But increased demand has worsened the problem, further throwing off timelines for contractors and homeowners.
The solution? Start getting strategic with how you build your team. Depending on your business’s needs, that might mean assembling a network of contractors or bringing certain in-demand skills in-house, such as HVAC, plumbing, electric. Whatever the structure, it’s time to get serious about building connections and maintaining industry relationships.
Tips to attract and retain talent
No one is going to solve the labor shortage problem overnight, but you can begin to take steps to build the foundation of your dream team.
Offer workplace incentives
Providing strong benefits for employees can go a long way when it comes to attracting new talent. Competitive benefit packages, flex time off, and employer contributions to 401Ks are a few ways that you can set yourself apart. Don’t forget that culture and perks can go a long way in a competitive landscape. Take inventory regularly with surveys and an open-door/open-mind policy that will help you stay agile with the needs and expectations of your team.
Support workers with mental health resources
When assembling your benefit offerings, don’t overlook emotional well-being. While mental health has always been essential, in recent years it has risen in visibility and become an important factor for millennials and Gen Z as they consider employment options. By providing mental health resources (like access to anxiety management programs or stress reduction workshops), you’re not only providing a sought-after benefit, you’re empowering them to perform at their best.
Provide proper training to prevent injuries and support career growth
By nature, home improvement often involves some learning on the job. It’s a trade that is constantly changing with new tools and techniques to learn, which keeps the work exciting and fresh. However, these advancements must be accompanied by proper training and safety guidelines. Preventing on-site injuries is always a priority. Getting ahead of potential mishaps and injuries is also essential to avoiding further delays in your projects. Providing training opportunities for your team can help them grow with your company in a safe, supportive environment.
Have a risk management program
You can’t plan for everything, but you can prepare. Early in the pandemic, when lumber was scarce and timelines were delayed, many contractors had to absorb those extra costs, wreaking havoc on their bottom lines. When you put simple systems and contract clauses in place, you can protect yourself and your team from future unprecedented moments. This extra security can mean the difference between retaining employees for one project versus a decade of projects.
Diversify your offerings
The industry is changing and providers need to be more nimble than ever. That means looking for new skills, yes, but it also means building a business that can adapt quickly and retain efficiency. Don’t overlook the nuts and bolts like finance and business management. Not only can a dedicated team allow you to delegate more administrative tasks, but it can also keep your business more agile with people able to focus on business growth and hiring opportunities.
Extend that flexibility to your customers too, flexible financing solutions (like those provided by Ally Lending) can ensure your customers feel as confident in their financing as they are in your work.
Expand your hiring pool
Casting a wider net will be essential to building your team. Depending on your location, that might mean geographically (look at neighboring towns for new talent) or scouting out potential employees with less experience than you typically seek. You could even reach out to local trade schools for apprenticeship opportunities or provide incentives for workers open to relocation. You might need to do some additional training but working with those new to the industry provides a unique opportunity to shape the next generation of home improvement professionals while building a strong team of skilled workers.
A firm foundation
It’s been a challenging few years to be in the home improvement business. While homeowners are more interested in customizing their homes than ever, finding the resources needed to deliver on that demand is facing a few challenges. The good news is a smaller skilled labor pool doesn’t need to hold you back. By getting creative and strategic as you build your team, you can construct the squad you need today and for years to come.
Learn more about how Ally Lending financing solutions can diversify your offering and arm your team with the right tools by making projects (and estimates) more affordable for your clients.