The construction industry has a significant labour supply problem and it’s likely to get worse. BuildForce Canada predicts that almost 250,000 construction workers are planning to retire over the next decade. Matrix Labour Leasing, a Calgary-based provider of skilled tradespeople and labourers, is working to help fill that employment gap by efficiently supplying construction workers to contractors who need them, while recognizing the value and aspirations of its workers. Better still, Matrix on-boards all responsibilities for workers’ compensation, training, hiring, and relational responsibilities.
“The temporary labour supply agencies that have historically supplied workers to the construction industry were working on an outdated business model,” says Shannon Warren, CEO and founder of Matrix. “The nature of those businesses created an environment where transient workers filled temporary positions and the employer was often left to ensure that the worker was actually qualified for the job and properly trained and certified. Temporary labour also wasn’t fulfilling for workers who couldn’t build careers or develop financial security while working for a short-term employer with whom they had never developed a relationship.”
Warren saw this first hand as a framing worker in the residential sector, working in the Vancouver area, where he personally experienced the negative effects of irregular workflow, tumultuous management practices and sporadic income, which not only hindered the quality of work completed, but also affected worker retention and wellbeing.
Warren founded Matrix in 2002 to develop an ecosystem that not only eliminated the pain points of labour acquisition for employers, but also created stability and growth opportunities for workers. Instead of simply locating workers to fill positions, Matrix Labour Leasing is a full-service human resources agency specializing in the placement and administration of the skilled trades workforce across Canada.
“With Matrix, our clients sign the contract with us, not the workers we provide,” he says. “Whether the work is hourly, short term, long term, permanent, or temporary to permanent, the employee’s home is always here.”
The Matrix formula begins with the establishment of a skilled and motivated workforce.
“The first thing I learned as a construction worker was what not to do as a leader,” Warren says. “As worker, my fluctuating income made it difficult for me to achieve financial stability and dealing with disorganized management structures severely impacted my ability to deliver quality work. It wasn’t just me. I saw the effect that this precarious environment had on staff retention across the construction industry, as well as the impact it had on the quality of work of others. I was inspired to create an employee-centric labour supply company that always put people first and was built on the simple truth that contented staff do better work and create happier clients.”
Matrix provides the building blocks for success by assembling its own skilled workforce, and leveraging technology to find the best workers offering the appropriate skills and safety training required by employers. Over the course of 16 years, the company has built a huge database of craft labour. It then provides administrative services through a proprietary HR community, allowing employers to concentrate on what they do best.
“We invest in our workforce through training, benefits and RRSPs,” says Warren. “We guarantee a pay cheque to each worker, even if we are unable to collect payment for their work. We concentrate on employee retention and loyalty. We offer competitive wages and that’s evident in our bottom line—84 per cent of our costs are attributed to wages and benefits. Currently 97 per cent of our work force is T4’d.”
Workers receive mandatory safety training. All workers are Construction Safety Training System (CSTS) certified. Three-quarters possess fall protection training tickets and 40 per cent possess first aid tickets.
Labour Connect also efficiently collects information on safety tickets and certifications. Workers are frequently text-messaged to ensure that all information is current.
Warren notes that the construction industry has often fallen behind the high-tech curve. That’s why Matrix developed Labour Connect, an online platform to connect employers and workers in an online product that combines best practices from Indeed, LinkedIn and other popular online job sites. Using the platform, Matrix can quickly provide labour services to its clientele, while ensuring that each worker offers the most suitable profile, skills and training for each available position.
“We’ve built a social media platform that not only connects workers to employers, but also connects people to other people,” he says. “We offer a number of social features, such as the ability to comment on job postings and to send messages to other people. However, the most important feature is that Labour Connect makes it easy for the 10,000 workers listed with the platform to see the job postings that are best suited to each person, and lets them apply with the click of a button. This makes the application process simple and intuitive. The streamlining process makes it much easier for employees to apply for jobs that suit them, and also easier for employers to screen for the most qualified applicants. Using this platform, placements take days instead of weeks and the cost of on-boarding is significantly reduced.”
The company’s extended social network reach is immense, connecting with more than 8,000 workers on the Matrix Facebook page, more than 29,000 on the Labour Connect Facebook page and more than 10,000 on its MailChimp account.
“With with a few clicks we can reach more than 60,000 people in the industry to fill positions quickly with the right candidate for the job,” says Warren.
Matrix has received recognition not only from its clients and worker family, but from outside the industry as well. The company has been recognized as one of Alberta Venture’s Fast Growth 50, as a Leader of Tomorrow by Business in Calgary magazine and as one of Canada’s fastest-growing companies by five-year revenue growth on the PROFIT 500, published by Profit magazine. To date, Matrix has generated more than four million hours of employment in fields that include industrial construction, commercial construction, maintenance outages and shutdowns, oil and gas, manufacturing, warehousing, health care and the cannabis industry. The company now retains the services of more than 1,200 skilled employees.
“By creating an employee team, we’re far more than a collection of workers we represent at any given time,” says Warren. “We’re a family that’s building a trusted brand for exceptional clients.”
This content is sponsored by Matrix Labour Leasing in collaboration with ConstructConnect® Media. To learn more about Matrix, visit www.matrixlabourleasing.com.