- Construction staff wages grew by 3.6% in 2016, according to the latest Contractor Compensation Quarterly from research firm PAS. PAS also predicts that wages will rise by an average of 3.4% in 2017, though the predictions are often 0.5% low, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
- The research group looked at positions like chief estimator, project manager and superintendent, and it did not include data about skilled trade workers. PAS noted that not every position would see the average increase, and it found that field-related positions, in particular, grew at a more rapid pace.
- Pay for entry-level project engineers (PE) increased 5%, and experienced PE wages grew 6.8%. Other positions that garnered higher-than-average raises were senior project managers (5.5%), project superintendents (6.1%), risk managers (6.7%) and safety directors (8%).
As PAS stated in its report, wages are important, but as growth starts to level off, other forms of compensation are becoming key in attracting and retaining employees. More companies are moving to a "total rewards" approach to compensation — a strategy that involves offering more programs like career development and work-life balance opportunities. This is not just a magnanimous overture on the part of employers, but a necessity as the industry struggles to reign in skilled talent to fill these positions.
Marianne Monte, chief people officer at Shawmut Design and Construction in Boston, told Construction Dive in January that development programs attract employees and keep existing ones more satisfied in their positions. After a year on the job, Shawmut offers workers a chance to participate in an employee stock ownership plan, which Monte said allows employees to feel like a more integral part of the company.
Monte said a flexible working schedule is another big draw, as work-life balance becomes a greater priority among employees across all age groups. Started in 2016, the company's ShawmutFlex program includes shorter workweeks, the chance to telecommute and share jobs, as well as an opportunity to work part-time in both field and administrative positions.
Millennials, especially, stand to turn the tides when it comes to changes in the workforce. The demographic's push for flex time and cross-training, along with better work-life balance, will likely continue to ripple out through the industry.
Author: Kim Slowey