With the country’s shortage of skilled craftsmen reaching critical levels—nearly 78 percent of construction firms say they are having a hard time filling both salaried and craft positions*—contractors are feeling the pressure as they struggle to find a reliable workforce to keep up with their workload. The most successful contractors are adopting a strategic contingent staffing model to shift some labor costs from fixed to variable, allowing them to quickly adjust staff levels as needed (see figures 1 and 2).

figure 1: Traditional Workforce Strategy

figure 2: Contingent Workforce Strategy

An Agile Staffing Model

Contingent staffing solutions are used by many industries that experience periods of high and low demand. Utilizing contingent workers allows businesses to be agile in responding to the ebb and flow of their staffing needs without the burden of adding to their permanent payroll. As the volume of work decreases, these businesses simply reduce their contingent workforce rather than watching their bottom line get eaten away by profit-draining holdover or overstaffing costs associated with full-time payroll.

What to Consider When Selecting a Staffing Partner

While contingent staffing is an ideal solution for the construction industry, not all staffing agencies are a good fit for contractors. The key is to find a staffing partner that takes the time to understand your specific needs and has experience providing reliable, skilled workers who can not only get the job done, but are also a good fit for your business. Here are four things to keep in mind when choosing a staffing partner.

1: Do they understand your business?

More than just understanding the local labor market and having the recruiting power to quickly fill orders for qualified workers, your staffing partner needs to understand the economics, operational pressures and day-to-day mechanics of your business. Many staffing agencies can supply general labor, but few invest in dedicated teams that specialize in specific trades and industries. A staffing partner that truly understands your business can help you strategically manage your workforce, maximize productivity and reduce labor costs.

What to ask:

  • How many years has the agency serviced your industry?
  • Who are their top clients in the industry?
  • Is the agency big enough and does it have the recruiting power to fill your needs?

2: Can they find the right craftsmen?

Relying on another company to help make important staffing decisions isn’t always easy. You need reliable craftsmen, and you need them now. Can the staffing agency find the workers you need, when you need them? And, more than that, can the agency find craftsmen who are a good match for your business?

What to ask:

  • How does the staffing agency find, evaluate and recruit craftsmen?
  • How do they ensure you receive reliable, proven craftsmen who meet your exact requirements?

3: Is safety their #1 core value?

The safety of your field employees must be a top priority for your staffing partner. You need to know that any craftsmen they send to your jobsite are prepared with their general personal protective equipment and armed with a solid understanding of general safety practices and a commitment to safety.

What to ask:

  • What is the agency’s specific safety program for craftsmen?
  • Do they have a verifiable history of complying with federal, state and local regulations?
  • What kind of safety training do they offer to their employees?

4: Will they be there when you need them?

A reliable staffing partner should know federal, state and local employment regulations, conduct thorough background checks, confirm eligibility to work in the country, execute W2s, pay workers’ compensation, unemployment taxes, benefits—all the steps you would follow when hiring a new employee. And, the staffing partner needs to know how all this applies to your unique business.

What to ask:

  • Are they part of the community? Do they have local offices near your jobsite?
  • Do they interview and vet workers thoroughly?
  • Is there a local person who will work to ensure everything goes smoothly?

Get Your Free Labor Productivity Analysis

In the end, contingent staffing solutions allow you to maintain an optimized work-to-worker ratio that will maximize your overall workforce productivity and profit margins—provided you find the right staffing partner.

Request a free Labor Productivity Analysis from Tradesmen International, and let us prove how we can help you maintain a right-sized workforce.


*Source: Construction worker shortage tops sector concerns in 2019