Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Construction Sector
by Stephen Sweet and Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes with Elyssa Besen, Shoghik Hovhannisyan, and Farooq Pasha
July 2010—Construction employers offer more flexible work options to most or all of their employees regarding working at multiple worksites and having input into the amount of paid or unpaid overtime, in comparison to employers in other sectors. Oddly, though, these same employers are less likely to fully embrace a culture that is supportive of workplace flexibility, according to a new report by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work. Indeed, half of construction employers surveyed did not share the perspective that flexibility is key to business success, nor did they consider flexibility as an important means to enhance employees lives at work and at home.
Types of flexibility more common among construction firms (than firms in other sectors) include being able to:
- Work part or full-time at off-site location;
- Have input into amount of paid/unpaid overtime;
- Request changes in work responsibilities;
- Work at multiple worksites;
- Take paid/unpaid time off to improve job skills; and
- Take 12 weeks or more for extended caregiving leave.
A sector disproportionately composed of younger workers and men, employees in construction are also less likely to experience work-family conflicts compared to employees in other industries. Evidence of friendliness to work-family include:
- Fewer construction employees come home too tired—Construction employees are significantly less likely to come from work too tired to be able to do their household chores (34%) compared to employees in other sectors (54.5%); and
- Jobs rarely interfere with family—A majority of both men and women claim that their construction job rarely or never interferes with family life: 65.9% of men, and 66.6% of women. Nearly half report that their job is rarely stressful (46.4%).
Overall, analysis of construction sector employers revealed positive trends in the industry:
- The typical worker in construction takes pride in his/her work and is willing to work hard; and
- Construction employers report overall fewer problems associated with employee loyalty, morale, unwanted turnover, and absenteeism than organizations in other sectors.
Specifically, the appeal of the construction industry includes:
- Freedom—A great majority of construction employees, across all ages, report having complete or some freedom in deciding how to do their jobs: 87.7% of young employees, 95.6% of middle-aged employees, and 85% of older employees; and
- Independence—Valuing a job with more autonomy and being able to help others in their job is important/very important to a majority of all construction workers: 77.2% of younger workers, 92.5% or middle-aged employees, and 86.1% of older workers.