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An AGC survey found that 80% of all construction companies were unable to fill positions and 70% believed the situation would become worse as 2020 wears on. There’s no debate that this is a full-blown emergency.

The construction industry is unable to deliver projects on time. This holds up resources, drains cash flows, and hurts profitability. This also affects their ability to bid for other projects and hurts their reputation.

The AGC survey referred earlier revealed that many construction companies are looking towards innovative technology to tackle the shortage of skilled laborers. Technology like Building Information Modeling helps these companies become more efficient and effective -a valuable competitive advantage.

So, it’s apparent that construction companies need access to quality tech talent. But are these resources easy to find? Are they easy to keep engaged and to retain?

Truth be told, in centers away from Silicon Valley or New York, it’s hard for mid-sized construction companies to find technically-inclined people. Even the few that are there aren’t necessarily interested in building a career in construction. They want to work with peers who are equally tech-driven. They want access to the latest tools and to use their tech skills to make an impact. They seek opportunities to perform.

Organizations need to use powerful tactics to win the war for talent. Retention is driven by an understanding of what drives such top talent, such as:

  • Providing opportunities for personal and professional growth.
  • Leadership training programs.
  • Providing opportunities and tools to enable them to perform up to their potential.
  • Invest in diversity.
  • Hands-on experience on up to date and cutting-edge technology.

Here’s how an organization can build a tech team, even in the face of such challenges:

  1. Getting connected with tech-specialized partners: Technology is a network that extends far beyond the company or organization. Partnering with a skilled partner organization that has the experience will enable the construction company to gain insights into how technology works in their context. This will also give the tech staff within the company the opportunity to learn from industry experts. The staff of the partner firm can associate with the existing employees, including architects, designers, and project managers, and provide them hands-on exposure. This can contribute to improved methods and the opportunity for contextual learning. Allowing their tech staff to interface with the partner will help provide them opportunities to expand their high-performance horizons and allow them to feel associated with the latest technology.
  1. Hiring a BIM partner: Turning to specific project delivery, hiring an expert BIM partner will offer the organization the opportunity to launch their own BIM initiative, even as they see an immediate impact from the power of BIM in live projects. The ideal BIM partner will be able to work on the BIM models and then handhold the internal team as the model gets rolled out, adopted, and modified on an ongoing basis. This high-touch engagement will allow the internal tech resources the opportunity to experience real-world issues and solutions. They can start building out the processes and workflows that would become necessary to adopt once the organization embraces BIM on a larger scale. The BIM partner’s experience of having “been there, done that” will help make that a bit easier. Of course, it becomes essential to consider the experience of the BIM partner. Also, if they can provide advice, technical knowledge, and standards documentation?
  1. Foster continuous learning and career development: Organizations need to foster the aspects that matter to the tech generation like learning, training, and career development opportunities. Constant learning and development opportunities are essential in a radically changing work environment. Construction organizations should integrate continuous learning and development through academics, training sessions or workshops. Offering incentives and support to learning will attract more tech-focused people to the organization and induce the folks already there to stay on.
  1. Company culture: The organization’s culture is one of the key “must-haves” for tech talent. Creating a fantastic company culture will help retain as well as attract people. Projecting vibrancy and positivity in the workplace is extremely critical to overcoming the perception that construction companies are hide-bound, boring, traditional, and backward-looking. By setting out a strong vision and creating a fearless culture, even construction organizations can appear modern and relevant.

The construction industry needs to implement a corporate culture that challenges its employees and embraces innovation. It is now incumbent on this industry to break down traditional methods and introduce new ways to resonate with young tech talents. It is also essential for these organizations to offer employees development opportunities and the room to experiment. This will enable the employee to realize their full potential and will, in turn, contribute towards the company’s growth. A potential employee should see the opportunity to boost their career and deliver up to their own expectations.

Organizations need to focus on the need to provide employees with new and exciting opportunities to learn and master their craft. Organizing and delivering practical training sessions will help the employees stay updated but they only go so far. In that context, aligning with an expert technology partner organization over the initial phases of kicking off the organization will help provide such a training context. Employees can learn while working. They can see the impact of the technology that is being rolled out. As that impact gets recognized by the rest of the organization, it also helps create the sense that the organization is willing to give tech a chance. This assures the newbie techie of the possibility of a meaningful future within the organization. That’s a powerful incentive to stay on.

Construction organizations could employ these practices to create empowering and enabling environments for their tech employees. That will help them grow a tech cadre that can drive their projects to faster and more profitable completion.

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