What is the most critical element of a successful construction project?
The people building the project.
Without construction crews, there is no construction business. Robots and modular construction have come a long way, but there is no substitute for human craftsmanship.
Labor is central to construction. It is one of the highest costs for most projects. The question for construction companies to remain competitive in this narrow-margin industry is, how do we increase productivity to win bids and drive profitability?
What distinguishes forward-thinking construction companies in this age of labor shortages and shrinking profits? The motivation of their crew significantly drives performance. In HR circles, this is referred to as Worker Engagement.
Gallup researchers found that organizations with highly engaged employees have 17% higher productivity, 21% higher profitability, and 70% fewer safety incidents. Engaged workers are more likely to work well together and proactively solve problems. They are more likely to stay with a company long-term, reducing the cost of turnover.
What does worker engagement look like on a construction project? We spent 100+ hours speaking with construction leaders and experts in behavioral psychology to find out.
The Crewscope framework to unleash crew potential:
Effective communication improves productivity. Daily toolbox talks are great opportunities to set goals, update progress and share information with crews so they can work effectively. When crews know the goal and how to achieve it, they can make better decisions.
Rewarding performance improves productivity. This is commonly done on job sites today with swag, lunches and gifts. Some have tried handing out gift cards or even extra hours, but site leaders and workers dislike the favouritism this causes on the team. The best incentive programs are transparent and objective. By recognizing workers for their hard work, companies tell workers that their efforts matter and encourage them to give their best.
Motivate workers to improve productivity by aligning their incentives. This is especially true in the construction industry, where workers are paid hourly (they are not incentivized to save hours). Performance bonuses are a common and effective way to align individual efforts with project objectives. However, hourly construction crews are not typically included in these programs. Moreover, companies generally struggle to align leadership objectives with the day-to-day.
We need to improve productivity and retention in construction. If we can get this right, a lot of money can be made. Communication and recognition will go a long way, but this is obvious. Aligning incentives to motivate crews requires some disciplined goal setting, but the unlock is worthwhile. By fostering an engaged workforce, companies can improve performance, increase profitability, and create a positive work environment where workers want to join and stay.