Construction Companies and the emerging Gig Economy

How Contractors can Leverage Temporary Labor

Posted by Zach Short 9/15/2016 12:00:00 AM

Over the past few years, we have seen a paradigm shift in the way businesses staff employees. Companies have begun moving away from the traditional methods of HR with many focusing more on contracted help (aka “gig workers," temps, etc.) to get projects done. This gives workers the freedom of choice to work when they want to, in the case of employers like Uber and Lyft - revolutionaries of the gig economy. It also allows businesses to abandon the risk of things like unemployment, paying out benefits, and worker’s compensation. When used strategically, this can save companies a lot of money and contribute to sustainable growth. 

What the heck is the "gig economy"?

Whatis.com defines this concept as follows:

“An environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements."

So, how does construction labor relate to this new economic system?

Here is the good news, the construction industry is no stranger to this system (while it may not identify with the term directly), and has been using contracted labor for many years. You could also argue that the nature of construction is highly suitable for the gig economy given contractors are in a constant flux of starting and finishing projects.

How can contractors leverage the gig economy to grow their business?

This can be done is several ways:

·         Reducing time it takes to find qualified workers – By using a staffing firm, contractors can virtually eliminate their HR departments. This leads to increases in productivity, and enables you to finish projects faster, meaning you can take on more work.

·         Flexibility to use worker for a specific duration – Labor costs are typically the most expensive costs, related to any project. With the ability to use workers only when you need them significantly cuts these costs down.

·         Increasing the amount of work you can bid ­– Strategic use of contracted labor allows contractors the freedom to bid on more projects and keep a small permanent staff to run jobs. Some contractors even use temporary workers for entire divisions of their business.

·         Immediate access to the best workers in the field – At Grus, our travelers are our top hands! These workers move around from job to job, keeping their skills sharper than local workers that might work for a bit and then sit on the bench for several months before working again. Quality workers will build on your brand and increase sales.

·         Appealing to millennials – The millennial workforce is one that presently confounds most businesses, and with construction already having a difficult time retaining millennials, contract work is appealing because it provides millennials the ability to work when they want (within reason) and be mobile. Construction will need to adapt to attract this labor force, as this generation of workers has already proven averse to the construction industry.

While the gig economy only represents about 15% of the overall U.S. workforce, it continues to grow at a rapid pace. Some economist estimate that gig workers accounted for the largest number of growth in the U.S. job market. It will be important for contractors to begin to adapt and embrace this paradigm shift, as it may become necessary to grow sustainably in years to come.

If you would like to learn more about the “gigs” Grus has going on, check out our jobs list. Or, if you are a contractor, give us a call to find out how we can help grow your business!