Manufacturing and construction is heavy, challenging work. It often requires long hours and very early starts, it can be highly physically demanding, it gets much harder in the summer under the heat of the sun and there's a higher risk of accidents and injuries than in many other fields. Despite that, morale on building sites is often very high: a highly-regarded Best Industry Ranking report collated in 2015 found construction workers to be the happiest employees. So what's causing that? What has the greatest effect on morale and job satisfaction in the construction industry, and what can you do to ensure that your employees look forward to coming in to work every day? Read on to find out about the three most important factors, and how you can work on them yourself.
#1: Create a welcoming, inclusive environment that doesn't discriminate--and educate your employees about discrimination.
Recent studies have shown massive homophobia in the construction industry in multiple countries around the world. There's an overwhelming belief that the manufacturing, mining and construction sectors in Australia are markedly racist. Women account for just 11% of Australia's construction workforce and leave the industry at a rate 40% higher than men--and many of those women are working in offices anyway; it's estimated that something like 99.5% of all on-site construction workers are men.
This isn't good for society at large, obviously--but it's also not good for the industry on a more personal level. Working in supportive, inclusive environments is good for people, and by welcoming workers of all kinds you'll increase the talent pool available to you dramatically.
It'll take a bit of work, though. Look through some of the best available advice on creating an inclusive workplace. Make sure you're leading from the top, and not discriminating against anyone yourself. Offer training and education to your employees to help them understand and appreciate diversity and its importance. And most importantly of all--make sure your hiring practices are fair and equitable, and look only at the person's working ability rather than their other traits.
#2: Make sure you're offering plenty of opportunities for learning and advancement--particularly as your workforce ages.
'Personal development' [...] and 'satisfaction with occupation' [...] do not represent high levels of satisfaction for construction workers. It could be inferred that construction managers should pay more attention to the concept of job enrichment.
Both this paper and other papers in this area have found that age is also a matter of great import: while morale on building sites is often high, it begins to drop off sharply with age. There could be several reasons for this. An obvious one is that, according to research conducted by PayScale, while Australian construction workers earn a reasonably solid average wage of AU$21.60 an hour (comfortably over the national minimum wage), their earnings increase gradually over the first 5-10 years and then level out after that.
The good news is, you can solve both of these problems--a workforce feeling a lack of personal development and an aging workforce--with one simple solution: keep your employees moving forwards. Be always on the lookout for courses, training opportunities and personal development plans. Machine operation skills are a huge boon to most construction sites and to the skillset of almost any construction employee; see if you can get as many people in your team as possible to get accredited.
Ask your employees what they want to learn. Would one of them like to become a health and safety expert to help keep the site safe? Is there someone in the team who would like to make the transition into the office, but isn't sure how to start? When you listen to what your team want and do everything you can to provide them with the kind of development they're interested in, everybody wins--they get better job satisfaction and increased prospects, and you get a more highly skilled and educated workforce.
#3: Don't sit in an ivory tower while they labour away down below; make sure you're on the ground with your team.
Engaging properly with your employees is the only way to know what's going on with them and where they're at. Several papers referenced by the one linked above emphasise the importance of this: a good relationship with supervisors and employers has a massive positive impact on job satisfaction. Going out for a drink with your crew at the end of the day, greeting them personally in the mornings and ensuring that you're available to them on site as often as possible are all huge parts of this--so leave your desk occasionally and see how they're doing!
This practice will help you do your job well in other ways, too. When you're personally present, you'll be able to better assess both risks and progress. You're also more likely to get a good feel for where potential problems might arise, and support your crew in dealing with them before they take hold. If you're a familiar face, they'll feel better able to come to you with their queries and concerns.
29 July 2016
When we moved into the house we had a really cute patio, but it was so small that if more than two people wanted to share a meal or sit together there wasn't room. That's why I have been extending the patio and working on ways to make it more hospitable for the whole family to spend time out there, such as getting the music system to connect to some speakers in the structure. This blog has some tips for homeowners who are looking to attempt a patio renovation or extension and has some tips on which jobs to DIY and when to call in the professionals.