Focus on Workforce Advancement for Success in Construction
One of the biggest concerns for the construction industry in 2022 is the labor shortage, but this also becomes one of the biggest opportunities.
Workforce advancement may seem difficult to tackle, but as with any problem in construction, it can be turned into an opportunity. Construction companies that focus their efforts on advancing their workforce will be one thousand times more likely to be successful than those that don’t.
An effective workforce advancement program will also help your construction company perform work with better quality and with a higher regard for safety. All of these factors make for efficient projects with high morale that will finish on time and under budget. If that’s not enough to care about workforce advancement in construction then I’m not sure what is.
Advancing your workforce in construction can do the following within your organization:
Create more skilled workers
Improve company morale
Produce more quality work
Decrease safety incidents
Reward both employees and employers
Construction companies who can figure out how to accelerate talent via education, technology, engagement, and development will be the most successful.
When I started out in construction, I saw many workers both in the office and field who needed help advancing in the industry. Let’s face it, no one can step into a role that they have never done before and be successful without mentoring and training. There are a few things that can be done to start off on the right foot.
Proper new hire orientation
When bringing new employees into any organization, it is vital to get them oriented to the company culture, processes, and overall environment. This is especially important in an industry like construction where so much more necessary information must be shared prior to starting work. Things like safety rules and requirements along with best practices. The importance of quality, integrity, and communication also must be discussed to make sure any new hire is a good fit for the team already in place.
Craft training for necessary skills
When it comes to craft workers, oftentimes portions of the workforce will require training to acquire the skills needed to perform work at the required level of competence. It’s hard to find skilled workers with extensive experience. Most of those individuals have been at organizations for a long time and don’t have plans to leave. This is why training new workers is so vital. Use the more tenured, experienced personnel that are already at your company to assist with this. Setting aside a day at least once per quarter for all-day training sessions is a best practice for construction companies. This should also be a daily practice for less experienced workers to work with more experienced workers to learn their respective trade.
Create a culture of learning
Teach everyone in your company that it is perfectly fine not to know how to do something. Simply ask for help, and be open to learning from others. What’s not fine is when an employee doesn’t know how to do something and doesn’t ask for help. Trying to accomplish a task without the necessary knowledge on how to do it can be extremely problematic in construction and can result in a safety, quality, or other incident. A desire to learn can be the most powerful thing for an up and coming employee. This type if knowledge seeking should be encouraged within your organization.
Reward employees for mastering new skills
This can be one of the most effective programs for advancing your workforce if it is managed properly. You don’t want workers learning simply for the reward. If you can keep the focus on learning new skills to help individuals advance their career, then rewarding employees for taking the time to become proficient in other areas is a great thing to do. Not only does it incentivize them to learn the additional skills more quickly but it also can create a better workplace culture. Creating an environment where employees strive to learn more of what they need to know to help the company be successful is one of the most important things a construction company can do. Rewarding your workforce can be anything from the obvious promotion or pay raise to even gift cards or more approved time off.
Recognize people's efforts to make themselves better
Probably the most overlooked and underrated thing about advancing your workforce is to recognize and encourage people to become more proficient in their work. Congratulations are in order whenever an employee learns a new skill. Encouragement is a must when that worker makes the decision to learn something new or even simply to ask for help. Too often are people scoffed at or not taken seriously when they ask for help or show interest in learning new skills that may be beyond what they currently do. This should never be the case if you value your organization. Always give those who care about advancing themselves and their careers words of encouragement and positive feedback. Give them the tools they need to be successful and, in turn, you and your construction company will be successful as well.
When you develop your people, relationships will grow.
Hire people for the long haul. Hire them to be company people, not just another hire. When employees don’t stay long, your organization is losing money. Every employee is an investment and the longer they stay and grow, the better off your company will be.
We have mostly discussed craft workers in construction but the same holds true for engineering, management, finance, and all other classifications of employees.
Let’s take a Project Manager for example. If this individual has not managed many projects before there is a good chance they need training on budgets, job costing, and forecasting. These are all extremely important aspects of managing a project that are necessary for a manager to know so that they can make the right decisions to make the job profitable. But if this Project Manager’s previous role was a Field Engineer, they may not be as proficient as they need to be successful. They may have an idea of what a project budget is and why all cost items must be assigned a cost code, but they may need to be trained on how all of it fits together so that the project can be forecasted out.
Embrace an inclusive culture where everyone is encouraged to ask for help and to learn new skills.
There are many great tools to assist you and your company with this. Teaching your workforce the importance of technology and how to use these tools is paramount. Learning how to properly implement and use technology will set your organization apart from the field.
Project management software is probably the most common tool in construction with such products like Procore and Buildops. Next, workplace collaboration tools like Slack and Trello can be very effective for communication and keeping track of multiple tasks for multiple people. For educating your team on construction cost control, job costing, budgets, and proper use of company funds, check out an innovative corporate card solution like Vendrix that is built specifically for the construction industry. WIth a tool like this, you can empower your workforce with corporate cards without sacrificing any control over company cash. Utilize your project budgets with the card and manage spend easily and effectively. Book a demo to learn more.
When it comes to training craft for on-the-job skills, use the information we’ve discussed here along with your current workforce experience. If you’re starting from scratch, find other organizations to help mentor you.
Associations such as ABC and AGC can be extremely helpful in this scenario. The construction industry is at a very exciting time with the potential for tons of growth. Advancing the workforce will be one of the most beneficial aspects of the growing construction industry.