How to Maintain a Balanced Work-to-Worker Ratio

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Some industry analysts predict an 8% increase in overall construction project spending through 2022, with an additional 12% growth in 2023.* While this is good news for the home building industry, the immediate question that comes to mind for many builders is, “How will I staff my projects?”

Contractors typically have concerns over two workforce staffing challenges based largely on economic and other marketplace uncertainties:

  1. Determining how many full-time workers to staff up with, knowing workload spikes and declines have been far more severe and frequent over the past 24 months. With supply-chain challenges lingering, these workload swings are expected to continue throughout the coming year.
  2. Filling full-time trade positions, which is an even more daunting task as the deficit of proven residential trade workers in the national labor pool continues to rise. This has been exacerbated over the last couple years by the pandemic as well as the alarming fact that each year there are more construction workers retiring than there are new workers entering the trades.
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How are builders addressing these challenges?

They’re embracing a “CORE+Flex” workforce staffing strategy, which was first popularized during the Great Recession. Similar challenges were faced then, and by incorporating this proven and easy-to-implement strategy, contractors effectively established and sustained a more balanced work-to-worker ratio through sporadic project schedules. This fortified their profit margins by heightening workforce productivity and keeping labor costs in line with project life-cycle workload variations.

Essentially, in both times of uncertainty and in robust economies, it is financially more prudent to run a leaner, full-time workforce, comprised only of a company’s tier one, tenured-craft professionals. As workload exceeds what that core workforce can manage, they are supplemented with contract, skilled workers provided by a residential construction staffing partner on an only-as-needed basis. As workload declines to levels that are manageable by the leaner, full-time employees, the contingent workers are flexed out by the staffing firm and mobilized to other builders in the area who also leverage the CORE+Flex strategy.

This just-in-time staffing tactic helps builders create and sustain the most efficient, full-time staff level and helps avoid unnecessary labor costs related to recurrent workload spikes and valleys. Plus, the strategy helps keep the builders’ customers happy from both a deadline and quality perspective.

CORE+Flex staffing is exactly right for today due to lingering effects of the pandemic and, as mentioned earlier, economic uncertainty. Today, project workloads are hard to predict week to week, let alone month to month. This forces builders to keep unnecessary workers on payroll for when workload increases. Or scramble to find job-ready craft professionals at unpredictable, frequent intervals, and at the last minute. That scramble can lead to safety concerns, worker-skill compromises, missed deadlines and budget overruns.

Therefore, contractors large and small work with reputable construction staffing firms such as Tradesmen International who introduced the CORE+Flex staffing concept to the construction industry. It’s an easy-to-implement initiative where construction management works with Tradesmen’s residential construction labor consultants. Together, they use a proprietary Labor Productivity and W2 analyses to define an appropriate level of full-time craft employees for the short- and long-haul. By adopting a stable core staffing level, supplemented by on-demand staffing, residential builders find they can afford higher quality professionals with no sacrifice to job safety, quality or profitability.

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How are staffing firms able to stand prepared to deliver the right trades, at the correct skill levels, once builders adopt the leaner core workforce strategy?

Builders need to treat staffing businesses as extensions of their own recruiting resources. By staying in close contact with a staffing firm’s service team, even including them within weekly production or labor planning sessions, builders can give their staffing partners ample lead time to communicate with their sizable local, regional and national trade databases.

The result for companies like Tradesmen International — which has nearly 250 full-time recruiters able to work on any one project order at the same time anywhere in America — is the ability to more confidently meet timely residential builder workforce needs, at the right skill level, no matter where the project is nationally.

Using contract skilled labor has other advantages that positively impact home builders’ bottom lines. Most staffing firms, including Tradesmen, cover all payroll, unemployment, benefits, and Workers’ Comp related costs and risks on their employees. This shelters contractors from expenditures they’d normally have to pay on short-term, full-time workers.

Tradesmen International is offering all residential contractors a free consultation including a custom Labor Productivity Analysis that, using client data, enables builders to implement a custom Core+Flex staffing strategy right for their business.

To learn more about the CORE+Flex workforce staffing strategy or to access job-ready craft professionals covering all trades, call any of our nearly 200 local service teams by visiting TradesmenInternational.com/directory. Or call 833-260-2864 to reserve craft professionals for your residential project.

*Source: Dodge Construction Network; Figures represent the % year-over-year change in total spend on construction projects through each respective year.

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