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Executive Insights from Construction Leaders in Workforce Development

The most successful contractors hire the most talented employees. Construction Executive asked industry leaders for their advice on the advantages of working with a staffing service, how to find and recruit the best job candidates and what to consider when looking for a payroll solution. 

What are the advantages of incorporating a staffing service into a contractor’s workforce development strategy? 

McCloneHeadshotMATT McCLONE
Vice President, Workforce Development
Tradesmen International
With the severe shortage of verifiably skilled craft professionals tormenting construction businesses across North America, it makes good business sense for contractors to include a reputable staffing partner that focuses on the skilled trades as part of their staffing strategy. This complements other recruitment initiatives, such as referral programs, that effectively yield higher caliber candidates.

Staffing services have recruiting power. They invest heavily and consistently in systems and processes to attract, on-board and retain top craft talent. They employ trained recruiters whose job is to identify the best talent available, thoroughly screen candidates, provide proper orientation and safety training, and prepare craft employees for dispatch to contractor client jobs. They are experts at workforce development and offer expertise that contractors should tap into.

Construction businesses can substantially reduce recruitment expenses and hassles by leveraging a staffing service’s database of proven craft professionals. Look for a company that has a database of job-ready craft professionals in every trade, at all skill levels. The staffing company also should have a stringent screening process that includes:

  • a minimum of two interviews;
  • skill-testing using MOCode tests and available hands-on testing;
  • verification of a minimum three years of experience;
  • reference checks with a minimum of three employers;
  • background checks that meet client standards;
  • drug testing as required by the client;
  • E-Verification to prove U.S. citizenship;
  • a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation verification; and
  • confirmation of PPE and appropriate tools-of-trade ownership.

Respectable staffing firms also ensure their employees receive OSHA 10-hour safety training and constantly monitor dispatched employees to confirm reliability, safety, productivity and a skill-level that complements the worker’s bill-out rate—ensuring contractors get the dollar value they expect and deserve.

Finally, using a staffing service yields substantial benefits that go beyond reliable access to solid skilled craft professionals. Experience shows that instead of adding permanent payroll as workload increases, contractors should supplement a reduced core workforce with contingent craft professionals for only as long as the work at hand warrants it. Contractors realize consistent results from this strategy, including increased workforce productivity, reduced workers’ compensation exposure, minimized unemployment expenses and resulted in greater control over benefits costs.

Incorporating a staffing firm into your workforce strategy can positively impact your bottom line.

What resources are available for finding and recruiting top talent? 

Recruiting young people into our industry has been an important issue for many years. Research shows that only 26 percent of high school students and 64 percent of post-secondary students who take craft training while in school enter the construction industry. These statistics show that we are failing to capitalize on our best opportunity to attract young people who have shown interest in construction careers.

To improve these numbers, we need to better utilize our most valuable sources of young talent, which include Career and Technical Education programs, craft training programs offered through industry associations and employers, and apprenticeship programs. The most effective programs offer industry-recognized, portable credentials and provide new industry recruits with a path to a long-term, rewarding career in construction.

The historically negative perception of the industry adds to our challenge in recruiting the younger generation. As such, recruitment and image enhancement efforts, such as the Build Your Future initiative, are extremely important to the future of the industry. These initiatives provide a variety of best practices and resources for educating and connecting with secondary and post-secondary students about career opportunities in construction. These resources include construction career events that bring industry and education together, marketing collateral and campaigns that provide students with key information on craft professions and online resources to help them learn about construction careers interactively. The industry must begin leveraging these resources more effectively to address current and projected future workforce shortages.

Where can a contractor looking to outsource payroll find an effective solution?

Payroll4Construction_Mike_OdeMIKE ODE
The most important thing a contractor needs to know when looking to outsource its payroll is that there are options beyond the well-known providers. Many contractors turn to services that cover multiple industries and only scratch the surface when it comes to the complexities of construction payroll. As a result, contractors still end up doing part of their payroll manually, or overpaying for customization.

Contractors looking for a payroll service that will work for a construction company should dig a little deeper. Search for a payroll service that’s focused solely on the construction industry. Construction-specific payroll services do exist and are often run by construction industry experts that understand the intricacies of your payroll and can set up and support your company.

Find out if the service has the features your company needs to increase office productivity. For instance, a good construction-specific payroll service will automate pay rates based on job, location and trade, track burden and overhead, and offer reporting and mobile solutions for remote data entry. For companies doing prevailing wage work, it’s important to make sure the service can manage fringes and handle certified payroll without having to outsource the task. The best way to see what a service is capable of is to schedule a demo, watch it work and ask questions.

In the end, it’s all about what works for your company, but a payroll service just for construction is a great solution for many contractors that are looking to effectively handle their payroll.