Leveraging Technology In Succession Planning And Competing For Talent in the Construction Industry
July 24, 2020
Many companies I work with are appreciating the reality that some senior managers running construction firms today may be looking at retirement options tomorrow, which could leave a huge gap of knowledgeable and tested leaders in the not-so-distant-future. This is especially true with second and third generation family businesses, who make up the vast majority of construction companies in the U.S. These businesses are scrambling to devise a strategy to address this unfortunate “brain drain” and ways to leverage construction technology.
A Look Ahead
A key component of this strategy is to attract and retain younger talent. Today, there are just too many opportunities for young people in competing fields like entertainment, and consumer-driven technology and marketing (think online shopping!). We need to explore some of the ways construction firms can mitigate this risk, and ensure their businesses will succeed as this transition is played out repeatedly throughout the industry.
Some Keys For The Future of Attracting Talent
One way to address this brain drain is to ensure that there is a well-defined career path within an organization for those who are interested in investing in a career in construction. Many times, this involves rotations between roles in the field and in the office. One way to attract younger talent is by having integrated construction technology systems that reduce manual, redundant efforts, and also offer insights into operational performance. All too often, it seems as if there is still a trend for a reliance on legacy spreadsheets, which are difficult to update, maintain and support. Especially if the creator of that spreadsheet is counting the days until retirement.
In the office, these spreadsheets might be used for estimating, and most of them contain dozens of individual worksheets with color-coded input fields and summarized cover sheets. However, upon inspection, many of these are riddled with formula busts and perpetually result in the same calculation errors time after time.
In the field, spreadsheets are used for everything from daily timekeeping to weekly progress updates, and are built as they’re needed by project team members, with no thought of organizational standards or version control. They tend to live entirely on field-based laptops with no opportunity for the data to be shared easily with other systems in use within the organization.
Putting yourself in the shoes of a potential new recruit, would you rather invest your career with a forward-thinking company that leverages construction technology, or sit behind a screen trying to decipher a one-off, layered spreadsheet?
The Benefits of Using Emerging Construction Technology in your Company
I suggest a company that uses a set of integrated tools, which provide a clean hand-off from estimation to execution, is in the best position to perhaps attract new talent. Paperless timesheets can be generated from a digital daily plan, and team members can electronically review and “sign” their timesheets at the end of the day. Once that information is gathered, it can then instantly be compared against the budgeted hours and costs for that work, and field personnel can immediately see if they’re performing as expected. This data is stored and organized in a structure that then feeds back to subsequent estimating efforts, where estimates can be validated by actual cost and performance benchmarks. Forward-thinking constructional professionals can use this data to look ahead.
Aside From Saving Time
As construction companies look transition from the current generational leaders to the next, technology can be a huge differentiator in attracting the right kind of talent, and creating the framework for succession. The key is to embrace these technological breakthroughs as not just an opportunity to optimize your next project, but also a means to attract and retain the future talent you need to succeed now and in the future.