Tarmac Lafarge Walsall

Construction sector missing out on £6.4bn a year due to poor management

  • 16 Dec 2015

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Even in today’s highly competitive environment, some construction firms are still failing to maximise their most valuable asset – their people.

In fact, recent research by Investors in People (IIP) and economic research consultancy TBR has shown that poor management of people in the construction industry costs the sector £6.4bn in lost output every year.

Though employers may acknowledge the correlation between employee wellbeing and productivity, many are unaware of the scale of the financial gains that can be achieved by implementing simple but effective people management practices…

Tarmac Lafarge WalsallToday’s largest corporations invest millions in their employees’ wellbeing. The likes of Google, Apple and Facebook have been known to build gyms in their offices, offer employees meditation breaks and provide in-house life coaching sessions.

However, people management does not need to be quite so extravagant, especially in an industry such as construction. Simply giving your workforce more recognition and empowerment can boost productivity significantly, ultimately bolstering your bottom line.

Of the various people management approaches assessed in our study, the results indicate that recognising and rewarding performance and having a strong set of company values are the factors that have the biggest impact on workforce efficiency in the construction sector. Firms that implemented these approaches saw an average efficiency premium of 8.2%.

Recognising and rewarding performance is crucial to motivating your workforce to be the best they can be and making them feel valued. When teams deliver high quality results, on time and within budget, for example, managers should try to acknowledge this either formally or informally. It is essential that your teams know they’re doing a good job to ensure the repeat of good work and to maintain momentum.

A one-off reward isn’t ineffective but it is noticeably more beneficial to have a regular and consistent rewards system in place. This way your employees know exactly how they can be rewarded and if they’ve met their goal; they have something to strive for.

The other key factor identified in the IIP study as having a significant impact on efficiency in the construction sector is having a strong set of company values. Communicating company values clearly to employees and incorporating these into everyday processes helps to create a culture of trust and consistency which, in turn, instils confidence and commitment in your workforce.

Putting these factors into practice, how can construction firms maximise their most valuable asset? Here are our top tips for organisations looking to invest in their staff:

1. Provide strong and visible leadership Strong leaders foster a motivated workforce generating respect. Your leaders need to feel a sense of ownership and believe in your brand if they are going to empower and encourage your team to do the same. Leading by example is the most effective way to implement change.

Tarmac Lafarge Walsall2. Involve and empower employees People are far more likely to engage with your vision and values if they’ve been involved in shaping them. Ensure your team is part of the development process and they’ll feel invested in your brand from the start.

3. One size doesn’t fit all Every member of every organisation possesses a different and unique blend of skills. Providing opportunities for employees to develop key skills can set a business apart from its competitors, allowing an individual’s unique selling points (USP) to contribute and become part of the organisation’s USP.

4. Ensure values have real value Every organisation has buzzwords of the inspire, innovate and empower variety. However, the true test of these values is ensuring that they carry into day-to-day practices. Successfully doing so improves employees’ sense of pride in their place of work and helps to build strong relationships within a team.

5. Shape great leaders Successful businesses thrive on their ability to nurture leaders that will take the business forward in the future. Nurturing staff that can become a successful management team secures ongoing prosperity. Every organisation, regardless of size, should acknowledge the proven benefits of putting staff wellbeing first on the agenda when looking to boost company performance.

If there’s anything to be learnt from our research, it’s that an engaged and confident workforce is essential to a productive enterprise. For the first time, there is evidence to suggest that focusing on excellence in people management can lead to significant financial gains in the construction sector. As yet, however, the sector is still to reap the rewards and transform performance levels through better people management.

Read more in the December issue of ABC+D Magazine

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