State of the Industry Deep Dive: The Labor Force

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Every new year brings new problems and new opportunities. The best leaders bring out their crystal ball and try to predict what is coming around the corner, but the cocktail of a potential recession, rising interest rates, and shifting needs of elusive young workers in 2023 could drive anyone to reach for an Advil. That’s why C&R and KnowHow surveyed the leaders of nearly 150 restoration companies: to understand how they are preparing for next year. Though our full report provides a detailed summary and action plan for leaders, here are the highest-impact insights: 

Shorter Tenure, Slower Training

Across the board, we’re seeing worker tenure decrease in all roles. What could be a worrying trend becomes cataclysmic when combined with the ever-increasing time-to-productivity we’re seeing in the industry. We asked companies how long it takes to get staff competent, compliant, and productive. Here are the results:

  • Technician – 40% said greater than 8 weeks
  • Estimator – 62% said greater than 8 weeks
  • Project Manager – 70% said greater than 8 weeks

This is far too long. As tenure continues to decrease (a trend we’re seeing in all industries, including restoration), those that win will be ones that can rapidly onboard and equip new staff.

Workers Are Your Biggest Investment

The good news is that most restoration companies are recognizing the crisis on their hands. Unanimously, leaders told us they are planning to make significant investments in the areas of worker training and operational software. 

However, more than just buying new software, businesses will be forced to rethink how they train and equip from the ground up. Young workers need to be taught established skills in a way that matches their modern learning style, otherwise they will not become productive before they quit. A timely resource and playbook for navigating this universal challenge is our previous study, www.whyworkersquit.com.

Standing Out in a Sea of Job Seekers

A big opportunity for a company to stand out is to develop and promote the unique employment benefits the company offers. For example, less than 1% of companies offer a formal ‘work from home’ strategy, and only 6.5% of companies have a formal career development program for their team members. Simply promoting “team culture” is not sufficient for young workers, you need to make your culture accessible to a window-shopping prospect.

The data makes clear that developing fresh approaches to promote the restoration industry to appeal to young workers is front of mind for leaders today. The general consensus centers on four main tactics:

  • Providing clear training and development paths
  • Introducing more options for work flexibility
  • Investing in modern technology and tools
  • Developing strategies to offer wage increases and short-term bonuses

The Race to Getting Paid Quicker

Another area of collective frustration in the restoration industry is the need for a more streamlined process of collecting job payment. When we asked leaders what their biggest challenges are, getting paid in a timely manner was one of the most common responses, with over 64% of companies requiring 31 – 60 days to collect after job completion. Setting a goal for 2023 to improve your company’s payment process should be on everyone’s strategic plan for next year.

This time of year, fatigue can set in, but if leaders can dig deep and implement a few focused strategic initiatives in time for January, they will position themselves ahead of the pack. Over 76% of companies are planning to expand the size of their workforce in January, which means planning for a successful January starts today. To get an edge going into 2023, select 2 or 3 problems to tackle, and have initiatives in place before the clock strikes midnight on January 1st.

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Leighton Healey

Leighton Healey is the Chief Executive Officer of KnowHow, a software platform that helps leading property restoration companies become process-driven organizations to overcome today’s greatest workforce challenges and accelerate growth. He is the Co-Author of Why Workers Quit, the official complete analysis of the Restoration Workforce Survey, available at whyworkersquit.com.

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