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A Four Box Labor Strategy Model


This article originally appeared in our weekly newsletter The Construction Labor Weekly. Don't miss these insights! Subscribe for free with just your email here.


Most companies ain't got one

We're talking labor strategy.

If you don't have one you're in the majority.

Why don't construction companies have a labor strategy?

It's really not anybody's job. The reason most companies don't have a labor strategy is because it's not really anybody's job.

The task of labor strategy falls in the cracks between operations, human resources, marketing and talent acquisition.

Every company needs a labor strategy. Labor strategy is everybody's problem and nobody's problem all at the same time. Let's start with an obvious point: In a constrained labor market, construction companies need a labor strategy. 

We have a three-step plan to put a simple, effective labor strategy together.


Step 1 - Hold the darn meeting!

This is an easy short step that you can have done before the week is over: schedule the meeting!

All it takes is somebody to make a decision that this is an important topic. Gather the people that have a stake in the strategy, clear your schedules and get in the same room. 


Step 2 - Work through the four-box model

There are two key goals to any labor strategy:

  • Attract the right people to your company
  • Keep the best people in your company

Both attraction and retention are needed to make a labor strategy work. 

The four-box model is built to guide your thinking toward these goals. Each goal (attract & retain) further breaks down into short term and long term.

  • Short term goals are what you need to accomplish to execute upcoming work
  • Long term goals are what you need to accomplish to execute future work and grow your company (assuming that's part of your plan, which we hope it is)

We've put a few ideas in the four box model above to start thinking. The real work is you and your team dialing in on the key goals for each of the four boxes. 

This is typically done with sticky notes and brainstorming session where you collect the sticky notes in each box.

From there, select the high impact goals.


Step 3 - Manage and execute on the strategy

Treat labor strategy like any other initiative. It takes management, updating, execution and tracking. Develop key metrics and review progress on a monthly or quarterly basis.

We also wrote about putting together a more detailed labor strategy here.

You'll be amazed at he progress you can make. This isn't a complicated process once you get into it. Most of the time it takes somebody looking around and saying this must be a priority for us. From there, it's about doing what construction companies do - building plans and executing!