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Managing a Construction Workforce

Managing a Construction Workforce

Let’s say that you run a small electrical contracting firm, My Electric, LLC and you’re looking at manpower requirements for a single project: a commercial tenant improvement project for a Five Guys Burgers that begins April 13 and is projected to end the week of June 8, about a 2-month project. For simplicity, we will assume that there is a ramp up in the middle of the project schedule to a peak manload of eight electricians, then a ramp down after that, as seen here:

Now let’s assume that you have a steady supply of these projects starting at regular intervals, all with the same manpower requirements. Each project would be ramping down as the other starts to ramp up. In an ideal world, this would result in a constant number of electricians on payroll, in this case, 12 workers at all times (represented by the straight blue line at the top of this graph):

This makes your project managers very happy because you have consistent manpower to assign to projects and there’s never a rush to hire enough hands to be able to staff a project.

The Real World

But let’s say that your company with an ideal project backlog has just one project start date delayed because of complications with permitting approvals (we’ve all been there). Look how delaying one project by just two weeks changes the blue line representing the company’s overall manpower:

Having just one project delayed by two weeks doesn’t sound like a big deal, but look what it does to your company’s manpower requirements. Because of the ideal operating scenario, you have 12 electricians on payroll, but only enough work to support 7 electricians in June. Then in July, you will need 17 electricians to cover all your needs!

And, if you’ve spent any time in construction, you know that projects are never actually distributed this evenly in the first place. Projects have much more complex manload requirements because of the need to do underground work early in the project and come back later to finish rough-in and finishes. Or a project falls through that you were sure would be starting next week. Or a project takes a few more weeks to wrap up than anticipated. So let’s add in a few more variables to the project schedules to more closely resemble real world scenarios.

So now the time that you thought you would be spending building projects that you could be proud to add to your portfolio, you are spending juggling manpower, onboarding new employees, sifting through resumes to fill open positions as quickly as possible, and managing customer expectations and a deteriorating relationship because of schedule delays.

The Legacy Solution

Many contractors who have recognized this problem have chosen to resolve it by partnering with a staffing agency. The benefit of staffing agencies is that they can provide extra hands quickly when you need them most. They can be an effective solution when your needs are for temporary, low-skill labor. But staffing agencies are taking more and more of the construction industry’s labor market share because of the time and money that it takes to hire full time employees.

The problem is that staffing agencies provide little or no training to employees, so you should only work with them for a temporary group of helpers who will be able to work under the direct supervision of company journeymen or foremen. And if you’re forecasting needing those helpers for more than a couple of months, it makes more financial sense to hire them directly. Plus, all the hours your company employees put into training staffing agency employees are for nothing once they’re no longer assigned to your company.

The Ladder Solution

That means the right answer is to hire more employees directly. But between reviewing resumes, scheduling interviews, holding interviews, putting together offers, drug tests, and background checks, the process can be grueling. Then after you finish all of that and the new hire doesn’t show up to work on day one, staffing agencies seem very appealing again all of a sudden.

But what if you could put that whole process on auto-pilot? Ladder has created a platform that will automatically find qualified candidates, schedule phone or video interviews, and process all the paperwork for you. That way you can spend less time on job boards and more time building great projects.

Give us a call or click the orange “Book Demo” button to see all the ways that Ladder saves you time in meeting your manpower needs.

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