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How will the Great Resignation impact construction firms?


Article posted by Cobalt - US

​The Great Resignation isn’t just coming, it’s already here. As the US continues its climb out of COVID, the second quarter of 2021 saw an almost unprecedented (yes you hoped you’d seen the last of that word!) challenge with 11.5 million workers quitting their jobs. Wow!

Thanks to pent up resignations during COVID as people sat tight for job security and many workers now experiencing burnout, almost 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021 alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Resignations peaked in April and have remained abnormally high for the last several months, with a record-breaking 10.9 million open jobs at the end of July.

Yet at the same time as this mass exodus from the workforce, we have witnessed a rapid uptick in work for construction firms. The US construction industry is forecast to grow by 1.8% in 2021 and 3.1% in 2022, much higher than previous forecasts.

And according to CNN, America is in desperate need of 1 million more construction workers, but employers continue to struggle to find people to hire. This has led to a war for talent in the construction industry on par with the days of 3% unemployment.

Limeade’s latest research on the Great Resignation shows:

  • 28% left without a new job to go to

  • 40% left their current job because of burnout

  • 40% who had a new job chose it because of the ability to work remote

  • 24% left because the new job offered flexibility in working hours

  • 22% felt more comfortable disclosing a mental health condition with their new employer.

With people now re-assessing their priorities, working habits and approach to their careers, it is critical that firms act quickly to engage both their existing workers and also potential new employees. For construction firms looking to reduce the impact the Great Resignation has on their business, we’ve outlined some top tips below:


Above all else, creating an environment that encourages collaboration, teamwork and recognizes performance is key. Encourage your staff to help form/drive a positive culture and be proactive in involving them in business decisions that can help your business move to the next level.

Live your values

Too may firms forget they actually have a set of values! Honesty, transparency and teamwork are easy to say, but are you truly living those in your business? Sometimes you’ll need to be direct with people about their performance. Remember to take time to discuss how people are getting on so they know that they’re valued - never assume they know.

Working patterns

Think about how you might adopt flexible working patterns or allow people to work remotely (if possible). People now want greater flexibility in their work and have experienced improved work-life balance thanks to more time at home through COVID. It’s important firms learn how to balance this as we move into new ways of working.

Tackle problems quickly

Water cooler gossip can be the death knell for culture. If you see issues, address them swiftly and directly. Also ensure that everyone understands how to avoid similar problems in the future. Encourage people to discuss their issues openly (where possible of course!).

Set clear goals for advancement

Although they shouldn’t be easy, set clear goals that allow people to earn a promotion. How will you measure it, are those metrics clear and does everyone understand them? Over 63% of candidates we speak to cite the lack of promotion as contributing to their resignation.


Although leaders are sometimes afraid to hear the answer, the simple act of asking how someone feels about their role/career can be a game changer. More often than not this catches small issues before they can become major ones!

The Great Resignation offers a real opportunity for construction firms to adapt and to do better when it comes to their employees. Those who can evolve and offer working conditions which matter most to their workforce will ultimately have the competitive edge and hire the best talent.

Should you be struggling to attract and hire the best people as the market accelerates, drop us an email to discuss how we can help.