Workers are the most important resources in the construction industry. Despite the wide application of various technologies like BIM, drones, and advanced construction machinery, the success, speed of completion, and cost-effectiveness of construction projects are largely dependent on the productivity of construction teams.
Because of its importance in construction, tactics such as time-tracking and the use of project management software have been applied to boost the productivity of construction workers. While these tactics may be effective, the key to productivity is motivation.
Motivation and a healthy working environment are two of the most effective stimulants of productivity among construction workers. Studies have shown that workers can be up to 50% more productive when they are motivated.
For these reasons, to have a successful construction project, it is not enough to have the right equipment and resources or to have highly skilled workers. You must also ensure that your workers stay motivated.
The following are seven effective ways to create a healthy working environment and motivate your construction team.
1. Proper Management
There is a reason why human resource management is an important part of any organization. This is because proper management is key to optimizing the output of workers. Some important management practices that are especially crucial to handling construction teams are as follows:
- Effective communication. There needs to be clear, open, and effective communication among construction teams if work is to proceed without hitches. From project managers to junior engineers down to unskilled labor, the information should always flow both ways clearly and concisely.
- Seeking the opinion of workers. Since construction teams are usually the ones with real-time experience in a project, it is a good idea to seek their opinions from time to time on project matters. Participatory decision making makes your team feel valued and important to the project.
- Giving and requesting feedback. Always provide both positive and critical feedback to your team throughout a project, to enable them to move in the right direction. It is also very important that you request feedback from your team to enable you to identify and fix any issues that may hinder their productivity. You can get feedback through face-to-face communication, team meetings, or the use of surveys and suggestion boards.
- Promoting social interactions. Construction projects usually go on for months and even years. For a group of people to work together productively for this long, there needs to be at least a cordial relationship among them.
Other important aspects of management that create a healthy working environment are addressing grievances and team building. The ease of properly managing a construction team can be greatly increased using specialized software.
2. Create Healthy Work Cultures
Studies show that organizational culture is an important variable in employee motivation and job performance. Work culture, which encompassed the values, attitudes, perceptions, and behavior of a company and the people within, is the number one determinant of the social and psychological atmosphere of an organization.
Some healthy work cultures that are bound to motivate your construction team are:
- Inclusion. Carry your team along throughout the various stages of a project. Right from the start, clearly state the grand goal of the project and the roles your workers would play in achieving this goal. This would align your construction team with project goals, thereby generating intrinsic motivation and providing clarity of purpose.
- Consideration. Construction workers have some of the most strenuous jobs. Always remember that your workers are humans with physical and emotional feelings. Don't give them tasks outside of their contracts, don't be quick to exercise managerial powers, listen to their complaints, and most importantly, do not overwork your team. Fatigue leads to a decline in productivity.
Other work cultures that help create a healthy working environment for your construction team are equity, accountability, respect, and transparency.
3. Recognize and Reward Achievements
Set realistic short- and long-term goals and celebrate whenever any of these goals are accomplished. Also, mark significant milestones in a project. You don't need to carry out a grand celebration. A simple pause, announcement, and applause routine is enough to create a sense of fulfillment.
Another way to increase motivation is by recognizing and rewarding outstanding performance. If a member of your team accomplishes a laudable task, don't hesitate to recognize their efforts. This would give the team member reason to put in more effort and motivate other employees to tow the same path.
It is also a good practice to occasionally challenge your construction team with tasks that require more thought or skills as this creates enthusiasm.
4. Commit to Workers' Safety and Wellbeing
According to OSHA, one in ten construction workers is injured onsite annually, with one in five worker deaths occurring in construction. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that construction workers accounted for 47% of all fatal work injuries in 2018. Construction is one of the most dangerous industries to work in. It is therefore crucial that you take every possible step to ensure the safety and well-being of your construction team.
Some ways to do this are:
- Strictly adhering to all construction health, safety, and welfare regulations
- Providing your workers with high-quality PPE and safety equipment
- Training your construction team on safety
- Only using construction machinery that is in perfect working condition
- Employing onsite safety professionals
- Having an onsite medical team to deal with any emergencies
- Providing resting stations where workers can take a break if they need to
Construction workers are well aware of the dangers they face, so it can be very demoralizing for them if you don't take the right steps to ensure their safety. As an added benefit, construction companies can save an average of 32,000 US dollars for every medically consulted injury they prevent according to the national National Safety Council.
5. Offer Incentives and Perks
Salaries are enough to keep your construction team focused. However, for that extra dedication and motivation, perks do the trick.
Your workers know that they are not entitled to more than their salaries and so simple perks that don't even cost much can go a long way in generating the feeling of appreciation. Light snacks, free medical checkups, massage sessions, and gift vouchers are low-cost perks that can go a long way in motivating your construction team.
(See Your Incentives Are Compromising Safety Culture to learn about a common incentive program pitfall.)
6. Promote Employee Development
Stagnation is one of the leading causes of employee dissatisfaction. To keep your construction team motivated, you must provide avenues for development, growth, and advancement. Offer skill training programs, workshops, and seminars that are relevant to the industry. Self-improvement, IT, and financial training programs are also beneficial.
Furthermore, offer promotions and career advancement opportunities to team members that deserve them.
7. Lead by Example
Workers subconsciously imitate the attitudes and behaviors of their superiors. While you are supervising and monitoring them, your construction team is also watching you.
Leading by example is far more effective than giving out instructions and having expectations. Try to be punctual, hardworking, dedicated, respectful, considerate, and enthusiastic. Also, have good work ethics and maintain a positive attitude. All these behaviors are contagious and your construction teams would imitate them.
The success of construction projects largely depends on the productivity of the construction teams involved. Productivity, in turn, depends on motivation.
By following the steps listed above, you will be able to not only create a healthy working environment for your construction team but also keep them happy and motivated.