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Maintaining Business Continuity Amid Workforce Turnover

May 13, 2022

By Peg Landry

With the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Job Acts now signed into law, the construction industry is certainly positioned for growth in 2022. According to Dodge Data & Analytics, “total construction starts increased 4% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $923.4 billion. Nonresidential building starts increased 4%, and nonbuilding starts rose 18%”. Nonbuilding starts include all of those infrastructure projects.

Although the projection for new project starts is positive, the construction industry continues to struggle with Covid-19 related problems. Many firms are challenged with staffing shortages and high workforce turnover. As a result, there is fierce competition for talent and the construction industry is certainly feeling it. According to career expert Zippia, the average annual turnover rate in the construction industry is 68%, as of 2020.

Staff shortages and retention of talent are major challenges for many firms.

With so many people coming and going, it becomes difficult for firms to keep projects on track. And many firms struggle with productivity issues due to staffing disruptions.

A recent McKinsey & Company article, “Bridging the labor mismatch in US construction”, cites “overall productivity declined by about 40 percent per year when labor was in short supply. This forced owners to extend project timelines by 20 to 25 percent”. In addition, the McKinsey report also notes that the pipeline of new talent is not flowing as freely as it once did.

Lack of access to project information impacts productivity.

When a person with critical project knowledge leaves the firm productivty declines. Project information stored in someone’s head walks out the door as well.

Because project data is often spread across a wide range of applications and storage locations, it extremely difficult for new people to find the information they need to get up to speed.

Many firms use a host of applications for their day-to-day operations. Also, staff members often need to learn platforms chosen by other parties. Searching for information through applications and folders is time consuming and difficult. In addition, project decisions hidden in email threads also need to be searched. And email not filed to the project where everyone can access it can also get lost.

The problem is magnified with inconsistencies of how information is managed from project to project.

Organizing project information helps manage staffing turnover.

Better organization of project information is one way to help new staff get up to speed quickly on a project.

Newforma customers also experiencing volatility with their staff have found that having a solid project information management strategy has played a key role in keeping projects moving forward.

A Newforma customer recently shared problems that his firm encountered. “We recently had a customer with an office running over 30 active projects where 10 out of their 12 employees left the firm within a six-week period of time. So basically, the office was closed. New people were hired to join these projects. If the firm did not have an enterprise data management strategy and a Project Information Management solution, they would not have been able to bring in new staff and find the information needed to keep the active projects moving forward.”

An agile project information strategy is a competitive advantage.

Firms that have a strategy for managing project information are more agile. This not only helps with staff turnover, it provides a competitive advantage. Standardized processes and a project information management strategy will enable new team members to quickly get up to speed by knowing exactly where to find a complete record of the project.