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3 Ways to Improve Construction Workforce Engagement

3 Ways to Improve Construction Workforce Engagement
Patrick Hogan
Patrick Hogan, CEO of Handle
5 min read

Labor shortage is one of the most pressing issues that the construction industry is facing today.

In fact, a recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that around 70% of contractors have difficulty meeting project deadlines due to a shortage of skilled workers.

This problem also causes firms to reject new projects and increase the cost of new work that they take on. They also sometimes ask their employees to do extra work, which only compounds the problem, as overworked employees are more likely to look for better opportunities elsewhere.

Employees are the lifeblood of any construction business. Before employee turnover impacts your bottom line, you need to address workforce issues through active employee engagement.

Here are some of the best construction workforce engagement practices that can help you create an effective employee engagement plan.

1. Involve Employees in Decision-Making

One of the most important elements of workplace culture that employees value is a sense of belonging within their team. For larger companies, the sheer number of employees may hinder the employees’ ability to build strong relationships with each other.

Unfortunately, this can lead to employees feel disengaged at work, and it can ultimately drive employees away from the company. It is vital that construction companies make the necessary changes to make employees feel valued and show them that they aren’t just names on a list.

The best way to show your employees how much you value them is to is to include them in your decision-making process. Construction employees have the necessary experience and unique perspective that can help senior management decide on the appropriate solution for the business.

Since frontline construction employees have more exposure to potential dangers on the job site, they may have more insight into the practicalities of construction work that senior management may miss. Involving them in the decision-making is not only beneficial, but it also means you value their input enough to include them.

2. Foster Trust Through Transparency and Openness

Your workforce engagement plan should start with building and fostering trust between top management and employees. A 2017 study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that around 61% of employees consider trust between employees and senior management “very important,” a 6% rise from the previous year. However, only about one-third of employees are satisfied with the level of trust in their organization.

To close this gap, senior management should encourage a culture of transparency and openness. Create an open door policy where employees can give comments, ask questions, and provide feedback without any negative consequences.

Instead of waiting for employees to start the discussion, encourage leadership to create better communication channels, and set a specific schedule where employees can use the policy. Finally, the management should clearly show that they are willing to change and act based on the feedback given by employees.

3. Improve Workplace Safety

All jobs have a certain level of danger, but construction jobs carry significantly more risk than occupations in other industries. Field jobs involve using heavy machinery, working at dangerous heights, and even handling hazardous materials.

Construction worker using a mobile operational communication platform on a mobile phone at work.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, out of 4,674 worker fatalities in 2017, 971 or 20.7% were in construction.

Workplace safety has always been, and should always be, a top priority of any construction company, but one of the aspects of workplace safety that seldom get emphasized is how it relates to employee engagement.

Workforce engagement and workplace safety go hand in hand.

Gallup’s 2016 employee engagement study found that business units in the top quartile of employee engagement experienced 70% fewer safety incidents compared to business units in the bottom quartile.

Employees are more likely to stay with the company if the leadership emphasizes their safety. If employees feel like they’re at risk of getting hurt on the job, they may look for other opportunities where management demonstrates a sincere effort to ensure their safety.

Before this happens, construction managers should create a workplace safety plan and include the input of frontline employees. Creating a safety plan with the help of your employees makes planning more effective, as they have the first-hand experience working with the dangers of construction work.

It is also a great way to engage employees by using their skills and knowledge to create company policy. You may further reinforce your safety policies by recognizing your employees’ workplace safety milestones.

There are no shortcuts to improving construction workforce engagement. But with sincere effort on the part of leadership to promote trust, openness, and workplace safety, your construction business will be able to reduce turnover and create an engaged, productive workforce.

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This was a guest post provided by Handle, a software company that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers secure their lien rights and get paid faster by automating the collection process for unpaid construction invoices.