Recruiting the next generation of workers has been a hot topic in the construction industry for quite some time now. However, LIUNA’s recruitment efforts have recently taken center stage when General President Brent Booker and LIUNA’s General Executive Board set the goal to double membership to one million members. That ambitious goal will take a team effort from every LIUNA affiliate, and health and safety can play a pivotal role in guiding those strategies.
“We know that health and safety is central to recruiting and protecting the next generation of Laborers,” said LIUNA General President and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman Brent Booker. “We know that with proper health and safety programs, LIUNA members are better able to reach their full career potential, protect their physical and mental health and live long, fruitful lives providing for themselves and their families. And we know that this is extremely attractive to workers.”
Employers and LIUNA affiliates can use the following actions to position health and safety as a recruitment tool:
- Provide and promote health care benefits
- Support workers’ mental health and well-being
- Foster a culture of safety on the job
These are all things that LIUNA is already doing. The challenge is how to properly market these offerings and show the next generation of workers how LIUNA can meet their needs and provide them with what they want.
Health Care Benefits
One of the major perks of being a LIUNA member is strong health benefits. Over half of U.S. adults say their health benefits are a key factor in deciding to stay at their current job. However, many of these workers are currently dissatisfied with the cost of their health insurance. The benefits made possible by LIUNA’s health and welfare funds match or beat anything else available in the industry, providing affordable access to medical care when workers and their dependents need it most.
For example, without quality health insurance, the financial burden of a single diagnosis or injury can easily surpass what any worker can afford. Access to LIUNA-sponsored health care means workers can afford to prioritize their health: they can get routine screenings, catch illnesses before they become life-threatening and seek treatments when necessary.
Action: If you engage with prospective members, we encourage you to learn more about the specific programs and services covered by the LIUNA health and welfare funds in your Region. For example, the member assistance programs offered through many LIUNA health and welfare funds can be a gateway to treatment for various behavioral health conditions being faced by members and their families.
Mental Health and Well-Being
The construction industry has the highest rate of suicide of any profession, and experiences high rates of substance use disorders and mental health conditions as well. It’s an unfortunate reality that some of our members face these debilitating struggles, and we need to be prepared to show them how our organization can help.
Research shows that this is exactly the kind of support workers want from an employer. Ninety-two percent of workers want to work for an organization that values their emotional well-being and supports their mental health. LIUNA leaders and affiliates have been having more conversations about mental health and beginning to break down the stigma around it. There has been significant progress in addressing the behavioral health crisis in our industry and connecting members with the help and support they need.
Action: LIUNA needs to send the message that it cares about their members’ well-being, has the tools to help and is willing to fight alongside them. For example, we can promote the benefits some health and welfare funds provide to address mental health and substance abuse issues. Or promote the behavioral health initiatives that several affiliates across the country are developing to help connect their struggling members with tailored resources.
It’s important that workers know they’ll be able to remain healthy throughout their career, and this only happens when safety is a priority at work. By prioritizing safety and promoting a positive safety culture, an employer shows they’re willing to invest in their biggest asset: their workers. Fostering a positive safety culture means training workers on safety measures, using the proper tools and procedures and encouraging workers to speak up about safety concerns. This creates an inviting work environment where employees feel secure, valued and empowered, which can have profound effects on retention.
Additionally, when a company’s safety and health efforts can be proven and supported by metrics and written programs, it helps signatory contractors win projects over our non-union competition and put our members to work. In short, a reputation for safety and health can give you a competitive advantage in not only recruiting employees, but also securing jobs.
Action: It’s obvious that workers value safe working conditions, and it’s been well-documented that union jobs are safer than their non-union counterparts. We need to continue to prioritize these programs and interventions and promote LIUNA’s reputation of safety to let prospective members know this is an organization that will do everything in its power to keep them safe.
At the end of the day, workers want to feel their employer values them as people, not just a means of productivity. By employing health and safety principles and programs, LIUNA and its affiliates can show prospective employees that we will meet this call as we recruit the next generation of Laborers.