According to the AGC in an August 2020 survey, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the slowdown in parts of the construction industry, demand for construction laborers continues to outstrip the supply. In Louisiana, 59% of respondents said that they were having a hard time filling some or all of their positions. As projects are canceled or delayed, it’s natural for a company to want to keep their workforce lean. After all, why waste money on labor if there are no projects to work on? But scrambling to find skilled construction workers when work begins to pick up can cost money in delays.
Turning to temporary workers is a great way to help you scale up or down based on the projects in your pipeline. At Enterprise Staffing, we make it easy for you to find a steady, reliable source of temporary labor. Because we do the advertising, the interviewing, and the on-board hiring, you can focus on project planning and landing contracts.
When It’s Time to Hire Temporary Construction Workers
Whether you’ve just landed a contract that is a little bit bigger than normal for your crew, your regular employees are dealing with more sickness than normal, or the overtime you’re paying to full-time employees is sinking your budget, hiring your first temporary employee is a great first step in helping you grow your company. As you expand your labor pool, there are a few key points that you should keep in mind.
First of all, clearly delineating a temporary employee’s job duties will make it easier to find an employee that meets your needs. When you go to a staffing agency, a list of tasks that you need accomplished will smooth the hiring process.
By assigning a temporary employee to a specific project, that will help your project managers keep boundaries around the temporary and full-time employees so that labor laws are followed. Trying out a temporary employee for a smaller project can help you see how your company can use them best, and it can help you work up to hiring larger numbers of temps to take on bigger projects.
The project that you’re working needs to be generating enough revenue to justify the expense of temporary workers. If you’re running on tight margins, then you should build padding into your budget to make room to expand your workforce quickly. While cost overruns are considered normal and even inevitable in the construction industry, by adequately preparing for labor costs, you can protect your profit margin.
How to Plan and Budget for Temporary Workers
Hiring temporary workers through a staffing agency requires careful planning and budgeting on your part. You’ll need to pay your staffing bills weekly until the staffing company is confident in your ability to meet your obligations. Paying bills weekly will require upfront liquid capital on your part. Additionally, keep in mind that a temporary worker may cost a little more than your regular crew because you’re not paying for their taxes, insurance, or benefits.
If you’re a newer company, building up to a larger contract is a great way to gradually adapt your projects, your budget, and your regular workforce to a sudden influx of temporary employees. A huge construction contract has a lot of risk involved, and if the contract falls through, you may end up owing the staffing agency a lot of money for a job that doesn’t exist anymore. By taking on a few temporary workers at a time until you can show that you know how to budget for them and train them correctly, you’ll feel a lot more confident when it comes time to hire 60 or 70 guys at once.
Disaster recovery is the kind of job that has a lot of unknown variables. Hurricanes, tropical storms, or tornadoes might have a season, but there’s not a lot of warning for when they’ll strike or for how bad they’ll be. And while it’s important to act quickly on disaster recovery contracts before the opportunity is gone, it’s important to remember that hiring additional workers for disaster recovery will also cost you more in hotels and equipment, in addition to their labor costs. You’ll definitely want to keep an eye on extra costs that might be incurred during disaster recovery.
Successfully Train Temporary Construction Workers
Clearly communicating with the staffing agency and your temporary employees will help you train your temporary employees more successfully. Whether you hire for an administrative job, like filling out paperwork and answering phones, or for an on-site laborer job, you’ll need a clear list of job duties for your temps to understand. When a temporary hire has a list of job duties, it increases their confidence in their work because they know exactly what they’ve been hired to do.
Before you’ve even made your first initial hire, sitting down and figuring out your company’s protocols and safety regulations will make your temporary hires integrate more seamlessly with your regular crew. It’s also important to think about how much time you’ll need to train a temporary worker to do their job as you bring them up to speed on their new job.
Communication is still a paramount concern as you introduce temporary employees to the foreman. By making sure that safety instructions are explicit, and that both full-time and temporary employees can communicate about any issues they may have, you’re proactively protecting your labor budget and guaranteeing that you’re getting a solid return on your investment.
Follow IRS Guidelines for Temporary Employees
If a project stretches on for longer than anticipated, or if a temporary employee starts to become an invaluable part of your crew, it can be tempting to forget their temporary status in your company and treat them like the rest of the team. However, it can have damaging tax benefits for your company if the IRS finds out that you have misclassified your employees.
Written contracts with a staffing agency help protect you and give you a solid framework to safely employ a temporary employee. Because Enterprise Staffing takes care of the hiring for you, we also take care of the taxes and keep an eye on any government guidelines that may change for your temporary employees.
Once an employee has finished a contract, you can always hire them back after a break for a second or third contract. If you find that they’re an invaluable part of your team, then you can hire them on as a full-time employee. Trying out temporary construction workers and then hiring from that pool is a great way to test drive an employee before adding them permanently to your crew.
Communicate With the Staffing Agency
Waiting until the end of a contract to tell the staffing agency that you’re not pleased with the temps that were provided is a terrible waste of your budget. Stay in touch with the staffing agency, and regularly keep them updated on how things are going. A good staffing agency will also work hard to communicate with you, your foreman, and your temps regularly.
Giving honest feedback about the temporary construction workers you hired will help the staffing agency refine their process so that they can send you the right employees without wasted down time on your project. Over time, as the staffing agency learns about your business, your requirements, and your staffing concerns, they can keep a stable of good temps for you to hire as your work expands and contracts.
It can be common in the construction industry for projects to go over budget and over schedule. Keeping the lines of communication open with the staffing agency will prepare them for if a project is heading off course so that they can keep you supplied with just the right amount of temps.
Relying on a temporary construction workforce can be a valuable tool for your business to utilize. There’s no doubt; construction work often comes in a boom/bust cycle. When you’re busy, you can’t find enough skilled bodies to swing a hammer. But when you’re in the slow season, you don’t want to carry those extra labor costs. Keeping your regular workforce lean all year round lets you scale up or down with a temporary workforce based on the actual work available.
Building a relationship with a reputable staffing agency will help you work through those cycles of work. At Enterprise Staffing, we interview, screen, and hire general and skilled construction laborers. We can provide laborers with a specific skill set, a construction foreman for larger projects, administrative assistants for office work, or general laborers for less skilled work. Give us a call today to talk about your company’s specific needs.