Sage Advice US

How to stop the brain drain in construction

In the words of singer and songwriter Bob Dylan, “the times they are a changin’” when it comes to today’s workforce. These words especially hold true for long-held beliefs about older workers. As I mentioned in my previous post, people are working longer—and not just because they have to. That’s good news for a construction industry worried about a skilled labor shortage and the brain drain that occurs when employees retire.

According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in five workers in the construction industry is age 55+. You can easily see how retaining at least some of these workers could be beneficial to an industry where the employment rate is expected to continue to grow into the 2020s.

Recognizing the value of older workers, The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) has launched an initiative to identify best practices for employing an aging workforce. Based on their research, it seems many companies have not yet reset their thinking related to the potential of older workers. Two-fifths of organizations surveyed indicated the increasing age of their workforce has not prompted changes in retention (42%), recruiting (42%), or general policy practices (41%). However, two-fifths of HR professionals that have made changes are currently finding that it is easy or extremely easy to retain older workers and one-fifth to one-quarter feel the same way about recruiting.

So how can you take steps to attract and retain the best workers 50+ and over? Here are a few tips based on information from SHRM:

Of course, some older employees will be ready for retirement sooner than others. In those cases, make sure you have processes and systems in place to transfer their expertise and knowledge to other workers.

Want to take a closer look at how older workers can help you address staffing issues?  I was impressed by the templates, tools, and information available on SHRM’s website specifically targeted at helping organizations prepare for and employ an aging workforce. I’d recommend starting there.

For other construction and staffing information, visit our web page.