The AEC industries have a workforce issue. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 70 percent of contractors have difficulty finding qualified craftspeople and, in 2017, the National Association of Home Builders found that the median age of construction workers was 41.
Given the challenges facing the industry, how can you ensure that great people want to work for your company? According to Travis Voss, the answer lies in embracing technology.
Travis Voss is the Technology Manager of Mechanical Inc., one of the nation’s top 50 mechanical contractors. Voss’ efforts to get employees excited about and invested in innovative technology has transformed Mechanical Inc.’s workforce. Since Voss joined the company in 2016, he believes that Mechanical Inc. has become even younger, even sharper, and employees stay at the company for even longer.
Voss agreed to sit down with BuiltWorlds and share Mechanical Inc.’s secrets for creating a robust workforce.
Tech-forward organizations recruit first-rate talent
When trying to recruit young people, Voss makes sure Mechanical Inc. showcases its technology. Voss ensures that all the interns that spend time at Mechanical Inc. visit the technology department and, whenever Voss visits a job fair, he brings along a HoloLens or an HTC Vive.
“Keeping those shiny toys out in front entices young people to talk to us,” Voss laughed. “But in all seriousness, a few decades ago, you didn’t look at innovation as important when you were trying to recruit people. You just wanted to offer a stable position, good salary, and benefits. But, now the employment market is a seller’s market. You have to have a leg up to entice the talent in. They’re not going to want to work in a company that’s still doing things in an old school method when they know there is technology out there. Young prospective employees have grown up around technology and they know there must be a better way of doing things.”
Cutting-edge companies retain talent
Tech-forward companies retain talent because employees take pride in working for an innovative company. Furthermore, when a company has an innovative culture, employees have confidence that their company can weather adverse market conditions.
Voss related that employees “take pride in the fact like they’re working with a forward-thinking company, a company that is striving to innovate and bring new things to the industry. If another company offers everything similar across the board, but the competitor is still using pad and paper, employees prefer to stick around with the forward-thinking company because chances are the innovative company is better positioned to survive.”
Only GREAT Technology will help your company retain GREAT talent
Technology only helps retain talent if it improves employees’ work experience. Voss urges company leaders to experiment with new technology and not to fear failure. “You can rely on organizations such as BuiltWorlds and programs like the BuiltWorlds Pilots to help you curate different apps and gadgets and narrow down your focus,” he explained. “But, at a certain point, you have to invest in something that you feel is beneficial for your company. But, you should still treat the new tech like a research project. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a product that isn’t working for you. It’s a sunk cost.”
Voss also emphasizes that the opinions of field workers are vital when evaluating new tech. “I’m not a field foreman. I’m not a pipe fitter,” Voss said. “So, I have to admit that I don’t know what they know. No matter how awesome I think something is, I’m not the one that has to deal with the endpoint solution day-to-day. I always ask stakeholders, ‘do you think this will improve your job?’ and I accept that input.”
If you’re interested in chatting with Travis Voss about his approach to the workforce, BuiltWorlds is hosting a discussion with him on the Future Workforce Forum Member Web Portal.