As I write this, we’re continuing a long period of low unemployment. Every blue collar industry needs workers. Hiring signs are everywhere. Wages have risen dramatically. Employees, it seems, are in extremely high demand yet very low supply!
What has caused this issue?
The roots causes are far too deep to explore in this blog. Let’s just say that for the last generation or two, there was a focus on college education and white collar industry.
Supply & demand… we have a shortage of blue collar workers and many open positions, and in some white collar industries an overabundance of candidates and few open positions! Of course, this is oversimplified but it is a major factor.
So how does silica dust control combat this problem?
We need to demonstrate that our the Hardscape Trade is exciting (and clean).
I love this industry.
I love the work we do.
The transformations we can achieve. The technology and the science behind what we build is amazing.
But for 10 years, I lived in a cloud of dust as I cut block. As time went on, I got smarter and started wearing a dust mask while doing heavy cutting.
Back to the hiring crisis we are in.
Let’s say you are fortunate enough to hire a high school grad right out of school. The first week, you put him on the saw and he works in a cloud of harmful silica dust.
Is that exciting?
Is that where he wants to spend the next 5-10 years of his life?
We need to show older generations that we offer a safe, profitable career.
We need to be able to show the high school grad’s parents that we really do care about our workers (their children!). Parents don’t want to see their children physically worn out by 30-40 years of age… and as employers we shouldn’t either!
Parents want to know their children can have careers that are healthy, rewarding, and financially stable.
Let’s help them understand that there’s no shame in saying “yes, my son is in hardscaping. He landed a great job right out of high school, has no student debt, and is so excited about his work!”
Happy employees attract more of the same.
Advertising to fill open positions is expensive. I can’t believe what I spent as an employer some years desperately trying to hire enough employees!
Careing for our employees health and wealth will help with employee retention and in finding new employees. If your employees are paid well and recognize that you genuinely care about their safety and well being, they will want their friends to consider working for you too!
Furthermore, it is not only employees spreading your reputation, it is also your suppliers! I’ve been humbled- and honored- at times to hear what my suppliers say about our company to new workers on the crew.
(Safety, by the way, goes far beyond controlling silica dust on your jobsites. There are many facets of workplace safety, and you need to be aware of them. Eye and ear protection, hard hats, etc. must also be considered)
Gen Z is bringing passion, energy, and tremendous potential to the labor market.
I don’t want to over generalize, as there are exceptions to all trends. Yet as a millennial, I find this next generation has a lot of potential. Sometimes I think they are way smarter than I was at their age!
As a design/build contractor (as well as manufacturer), my employees have told me they could never go back to working in a cloud of dust.
They would rather change jobs or industries than endure that. See.. I told you they were smarter than me. It took me 10 years to realize that breathing in all that dust wasn’t very smart!