Solving The Talent Shortage in Construction Project Management

Solving The Talent Shortage In Design & Construction Project Management

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a talent shortage of 9.5 million new Construction Project Managers by 20301.

The project management talent shortage is also cascading through the global economy.

Research done by the Project Management Institute in 2021 reveals a need for 25 million new project professionals in the same timeline. In other words, 2.3 million people will need to enter project roles every year to keep up with demand2.

Despite the ripple of economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for design & construction project management skills is increasing. The higher demand for skilled project professionals in developing countries is widening the gap, and the retirement attrition rate exacerbates the shortage3.

Business leaders are feeling the impact of the talent shortage, daily:

  • Unknowingly, Project Coordinators and teams are falling short in accountability for project outcomes.
  • Human Resources (HR) departments are buried in piles of resumes of seemingly unqualified candidates.
  • Vacant project leadership roles are leaving business leaders doing day-to-day project work.
  • And talent retention bonuses and/or turnover costs are eroding already tight margins.

To bridge the project talent shortage gap, below are four strategies to help design & construction businesses attract and retain top talent.

1. Building Accountability: Elevate Talent to Project Leaders

Project accountability and performance shortcomings stem from a lack of responsibility awareness, mismatched skills & role fit, and/or dysfunctional team dynamics.

Business leaders can help improve accountability by clarifying role & responsibility boundaries.

Once the Project Leader’s role is clear, the next question to ask is are the right people in these positions?

Discovery questions that can help include:

  • Are their responsibilities a natural fit with their strengths?
  • Does their leadership style match the project and client needs?
  • Do they need training, coaching, or support to further develop their skills?

Business leaders can also improve project team performance by investigating team dynamics.

Asking discovery questions will help to uncover your Project Team Type:

  • Do you have the winning combination of talent for project success?
  • Does the team have the prerequisite skills and experience to overcome challenges during project execution?
  • How strong is your team’s cohesion? Do they communicate and work effectively together?

(For more information about Project Team Types, click here.)

Behavioral data has proven to lend insight into role fit and team dynamics. Behavioral Assessments (BA) available today range in cost, complexity, and insight quality. But they are not all created equal. Integrating a software solution that includes data analytics can simplify this process.

2. Hire The Right People

The quote “build it, and they will come” holds weight.

Who wouldn’t want to work with the dream team? A top talent magnet is a roster full of A-players who work to their strengths, excel in their roles, and gel well together.

Fit is everything, and here’s why…

The cost of replacing an employee is about 40% of their annual salary when you factor in recruiting, lost productivity, and onboarding.

Companies can save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by mitigating employee replacement costs.

Consider this example: a construction company with 250 employees, with an average employee salary range of $65K, can save up to $215,358 annually4. And this doesn’t include the disengagement costs while they’re still on the job, as explained further below.

And in an industry with tight profit margins, it pays dividends – literally – to get hiring right, the first time.

So how can Business Leaders identify the right person from the get-go, without the trial-and-error?

Integrate behavioral data into the forefront of the recruiting process.

First, create a profile of the qualifications, behaviors, strengths, and motivations of the ideal top recruit.

Then, craft a thoughtful job description that includes expected behaviors. When the job description is on target, it will resonate with the right person – and repel everyone else.

Next, collect a candidate’s behavioral profile as a screening tool. Interview those who are the closest match to the target.

Lastly, use the candidate’s behavioral data to design a tailored onboarding experience.

3. Promote Internally

A search on Glassdoor reveals endless exit comments about a lack of advancement opportunities.

Employee engagement is the key to retaining Top Talent.

A pay raise, project bonus, or performance feedback are all things that can give a temporary boost to morale but…

It’s when people feel challenged and valued that they stay in it for the long haul.

Promoting employees is an effective way to engage, to fill open project leadership roles faster, and save time and stress by eliminating the external recruiting process.

Here is the process:

  • Identify your top performers.
  • Tailor a promotion plan specifically for them.
  • Give them the right training, coaching, and ongoing support.

These steps will ensure that promoted employees are set up for continued success in their expanding responsibilities.

The bottom line is promoting from within is a win-win.

And Talent promotion can be made easier by leveraging behavioral data as a guide. It will help to identify which employees to promote, how to get them up to speed quickly, and what support to provide so they’ll be successful.

4. Diagnose & Address Employee Disengagement

In-depth research done by The Predictive Index paints a grim picture of the effects of employee disengagement.

In the Construction industry, a company of 250 employees will have approximately 68 people doing just enough work to avoid getting let go5.

And this number doesn’t include the people who disengage completely and are ready to leave.

Workers who are not fully engaged can cost a company up to 34% of their salary. This equates to $1.8 million per year for a 250-employee company, as an example.

These research findings are shocking.

Addressing employee disengagement must be a top priority in your Talent Strategy.

A practical way to identify engagement issues is to collect feedback through an employee survey. For smaller companies, informal conversations work well. For larger organizations, a more formal employee survey approach would be beneficial.

No matter the survey mechanism, candid feedback is the goal.

A Solution To Gain A Talent Competitive Edge

Implementing the four strategies above is the practice of Talent Optimization.

Companies that practice Talent Optimization have a 50% lower turnover rate. This was the finding in The Predictive Index’s 2022 State of Talent Optimization Report, which included interviews with 300+ executives who reveal the top drivers of employee retention.

Independent of the behavioral assessment tool, Talent Optimization helps design & construction businesses gain a competitive edge amid the industry’s widening talent shortage.

A First-Next Step

Learn more about how Talent Optimization can help you solve your top talent challenges in your design & construction project-based business by clicking the button below.

Jennifer Glatz, P.Eng., PMP
Jennifer Glatz, P.Eng., PMP

Jennifer Glatz, P.Eng., PMP is a Project Management Talent & Process Consultant, serving the engineering, design, and construction sector. With her decade of experience delivering multi-million-dollar industrial projects, and her Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) and Project Management Professional (PMP) designations, Jennifer offers a unique lens and expertise on Project Management Talent Optimization.

To schedule a call with Jennifer to discuss your Project Management Talent Optimization needs, click below.