How to Address COVID-19 Workforce Management Challenges

During my lengthy career, I have never experienced a situation that presented challenges like COVID-19 has caused throughout the construction industry. These are issues we've never previously encountered–and, unlike other challenges we face daily, there is no roadmap to follow.

One of the significant challenges for the industry is workforce management. Contractors are in a position where they have to come up with solutions to labor management problems they've never had to think about before–from social distancing to abrupt project changes. 

Workforce Management Challenges

If you manage labor, you are now a pioneer with possibly a few best practices to follow–and your employees are looking to you for leadership and timely information to manage through this downturn.

Employees are questioning the logic of working in an uncertain work environment versus staying at home for close to equal pay. As you know, regardless of government mandates regarding guaranteed employment, construction is different. As construction projects progress, employment demands change. 

Social distancing is creating a very unique and previously unheard of challenge. Job sites and prefabrication shops have a limited amount of space, which restricts the number of people allowed in a specific area. 

These are very impactful challenges not considered weeks ago.

Stress Testing Your Workforce Management

More than ever, contractors will rely on technology to get them through this downturn. Thankfully, project management and financial platforms are widely used throughout the construction industry to help transition working from home, but a piece of technology not commonly used is labor management. 

The majority of contractors still use spreadsheets or whiteboards–and the majority of current challenges are labor-related, so you can see how that could be a concern.

Before my retirement, we digitized and standardized our workforce management practices. The team embraced it, and it allowed us to operate in a way I never thought possible. I was curious to hear how the practices were holding up in light of what has transpired with COVID-19, so I reached out last week to check in. 

I was pleased but not surprised to hear the following: 

"Thankfully, we have LaborChart. I don't want to think about what problems we'd have without it. It's so easy to send text messages to the entire workforce."

"We have some jobs that are cutting way back on labor because the construction sites are being put on hold, due to COVID-19. The exact opposite is happening with our school projects. With the schools being vacated, we are able to access areas that were scheduled to be remodeled during the summer break. This results in accelerating the schedule which is usually beneficial. Keeping the Request page accurate enables us to project future labor needs and schedule our workforce correctly. With this information, it's easy to forecast the negative impact of self-furloughing and the burden placed on our workforce management team."  

Overhauling our workforce management technologies and processes was one of my last significant initiatives before retirement. Leaving behind a system and practice that holds up under the most extreme stress provides a sense of pride. I know it's in good hands and will only get better.

If you're currently struggling with your workforce management facing any of these challenges, I recommend learning more about LaborChart. 

Most importantly, we're here to help. If you have any questions, please reach out.

Until next time...

 

 

 

Gary Fuchs, LaborChart Workforce Advisor

Gary Fuchs

Workforce Advisor

Gary Fuchs is Workforce Advisor at LaborChart. Prior to LaborChart, Gary was VP of Construction at Westphal Electric. He and his wife Cheryl are proud parents of three daughters and 10 grandchildren. Gary enjoys woodworking, golf, hunting, fishing, and working with LaborChart. In his past, Gary was a volunteer firefighter and basketball official.