Future Workforce

Unforeseen Consequences

Our last newsletter spoke about the potential labor shortage and its impact to the construction industry.  Recently I heard a presentation that described the make-up of our future workforce and the challenges companies should expect along with the monetary impact.

Many experts have spoken about the construction labor force’s exodus during the last economic downturn.  Talent that has left the industry are choosing NOT to return.

Ed Foulke of Fisher and Phillips description of our future workforce was just as alarming.  As the former head of OSHA, his comments were passionate and served as a clear warning to all employers, not just for construction.

Ed believes that companies will be managing a generally declining healthy workforce.  He offered as support, the following key points:

  • Aging workforce – Since 1977, workers greater than sixty-five (65) years old has more than doubled and that trend is expected to continue to rise as people no longer feel they have sufficient funds to retire. His concludes that older members of your construction team will just plain “wear out” resulting in increased work place incidents.  Insurance premiums will increase as the age continues to rise.
  • Obesity – the alarming statement was that workers now entering the labor force are on average less fit than previous generations.  He points to the fact that obesity rates have tripled in the last thirty (30) years.  This trend is tagged to the general opinion that our kids have a more sedentary life style than their parents. His point is that today’s entry level workforce has grown up in an environment more confined, entertained by television and video games.  This lack of activity when compared to previous generations has been the cause for the obesity issue. His experience leads to the conclusion that this more obese workforce will lead to increased accidents in high risk professions such as construction.

Action Steps

Ed contends that as employers, we are responsible for providing the leadership and more importantly, the opportunity for safe working conditions at the job site.  His belief is that as company leaders we must change the trend to a healthier workforce.

Healthy Life

He suggests that to confront the trend head on, employers should start wellness programs in their companies.  His thoughts for wellness programs should include incentives for good health and disease management.

With the trend for the government to provide healthcare, employers should insist that all of their staff have health insurance and if necessary offer rewards for healthy living, loss of weight, quite smoking etc.

His salient comment was that the health of your workforce will affect your company’s profitability now & in the future.