The construction industry has a substantial image problem. This problem is contributing to some of the growing concerns around the sector’s workforce; issues around diversity, mental health and the decreasing pool of talent. The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown have made these issues even more pronounced.
In this article we focus on HR in construction and look at some of the things you can do to help build a workforce that will thrive in future environments.
The future is going to be more difficult than ever to predict and for an industry that is fundamentally intertwined with physical sites, physical products and physical work. Being able to adapt in a rapidly changing world is unquestionably not easy.
However, introducing agile practices to construction businesses will help your workforce cope with some of the rapid changes the industry will face in the coming years: the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit to name just two. With a workforce that is structured and trained to be adaptable, projects will be able to keep moving when hit with new challenges.
The high profile and often complexity of construction projects mean that heightened communication, transparency and adaptability to newly emerging issues will be hugely important. You can improve your workforce’s ability to adapt to industry changes by:
|Embracing systems that help with generating and recording contracts|
|Implementing working from home policies|
|Considering shift patterns for worker safety benefit|
|Delivering effective remote and ongoing training|
Engaging with your employees
Construction workers are more likely than average to experience work-related stress or similar mental health issues. The physical nature of the work lends a focus to physical health, but this has left support for workers’ emotional and mental wellbeing somewhat lacking.
Raising awareness of these mental health issues will lay the foundations for building a comprehensive support system for your staff. Effective training on recognising signs and how to support colleagues will help embed good practice and good mental health on site and in offices.
The wellbeing of staff is paramount and is your top priority, but positive side effects of implementing these practices will be seen in employee loyalty, brand perception and in removing the stigma around mental health that exists within the industry.
Delivering on diversity
It is hard to ignore the fact that the construction industry is dominated by white, male workers. A recent Glenigan Construction Industry Performance Report showed that the average construction company workforce was only 3 per cent black or minority ethnic, and that the proportion of women in the construction workforce has dropped from 19 per cent to 13 per cent.
For an industry struggling to find and retain good talent, and with the impending complications due to Brexit looming, there are huge opportunities in embracing diversity to find new talent. The added, and considerable, bonus is that the more varied a group’s collective experience and backgrounds, the deeper your knowledge pool becomes allowing you to build ideas and best practice based on wider experience.
The construction industries are facing considerable challenges when it comes to its workforce. But embracing new best practices and considering new pools of talent will be key to building a talented and able workforce of the future.