Lumber prices have gone through the roof. Appliances are hard to find. Hot water heaters, electrical conduit, PVC, and stain for floors are all scarce. And labor ... Labor is nonexistent.
Just about everything we need to build and service a home is a disrupted mess because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yes, the mundane has become the heroic. Little did I know that complex pandemic-related day-to-day problem-solving would be the least of my worries during this crisis. What I didn’t anticipate was this: Those employed in construction-related fields have one of the lowest group vaccination rates nationwide. Smart people. Sophisticated people. Caring people. Unvaccinated.
Obstacles to Safe Behavior
Builders, by nature, are doers, and this is a clear call to action. Builders influence—that’s what we do—a broad range of professions and trades. Encouraging unvaccinated team members to get the shots aligns with our diverse communications strengths. Every day, builders seamlessly communicate across socioeconomic divides. We speak as easily with architects and engineers as we do with surveyors, clients, and painters, framers, masons, and plumbers.
I work with smart men and women, old and young, in construction, with varying degrees of education. Why does this vaccine hesitancy run through them all at a higher rate than in other industries?
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They are, at their core, a hardy, headstrong, self-sufficient group. But as valuable as that trait is for performing their jobs, it also can be an obstacle to safe behavior among workers who routinely interact with many more people than is common for other professions.
Across the country, construction industry employees leave their homes daily and travel substantial distances, carpooling and ride-sharing. They stop at delis, lumberyards, and home goods stores. They enter the homes of clients and customers. Many of these workers are likely to be unvaccinated—and likely ignore crucial health and safety advice.
Builders Need to Lead in Urging Workers to Get Vaccinated
Builders and construction executives are responsible for more than securing certificates of occupancy and laying foundations. We are uniquely suited to serve as influencers when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. We can—and must—smartly, consistently, and directly influence our employee and subcontractor network by promoting the benefits of those shots in the arm.
Builders have deep credibility and experience influencing their teams. I do it all the time and I deeply care for my teams. I help employees with basic dental and health care visits. I support their financial literacy efforts with 401(k)-contribution education and personal debt management. I encourage regular attendance and coach safety in the workplace. I offer counsel regarding family issues and challenges. The advantages of vaccinations should be part of that regimen.
While every building company is unique, all share the same hierarchical structure, and all successful firms benefit from strong leadership at the top. As leaders, we know how to motivate with time off, bonuses, and recognition. And we know how to influence with smart communications strategies.
This vaccination effort must happen before vaccine hesitancy among some in the construction industry affects our operations, profitability, and hard-earned reputations. Builders always serve their communities—we build Little League dugouts and are the first to volunteer. Simply put, this is just another way for us to serve and protect our community.