The construction industry is one of the leading contributors to the world’s economy, generating almost 13% of the global GDP. As burgeoning population and urbanization accelerate the demand for commercial, residential, and non-residential properties, the construction sector continues to soar to new heights.
Despite being a profitable industry, research shows that, unlike other industries, employee productivity in construction has grown by a mere 1% of the annual rate over the last two decades.
The general contractors and construction workers face several challenges like tough competition, cost overruns, low-profit margins, tight project deadlines, and workflow disruptions. These challenges cause productivity in construction to decrease.
Factors Affecting Productivity In Construction Workers:
- Selection and training of labor force
- Quality of management
- Working hours
- Implementation of technology and automation tools
- Communication and coordination among the workforce
- Economic incentives
One way to tackle this stagnancy is to track employee productivity rates. Generally, labor productivity in construction estimates the physical work per unit per person-hour or any other metrics used by a company.
The easiest way to calculate employee productivity is to divide the output by the input. Here is a basic man-days formula for measuring employee productivity:
Employee Productivity = Output (Total Work Completed) ⁄
Input (Total No. of Man-Days or Hours Taken)
Here, the output can be the value of goods and services produced. Whereas, the input can be assumed as the number of days/hours taken to complete the task, equipment used, labor costs, or other inputs.
Let’s say your company yielded $50,000 worth of goods or services with 20 employees in 1000 hours. To calculate employee productivity –
$50,000 ⁄ 1000 Hours = $50 Per Hour of Work
As a construction company owner or project manager, you must be aware of the importance of delivering quality work to clients and completing their projects on time. Incorporating small optimizations in business management can reap long-lasting results.
Here are the 10 ways to improve the productivity of construction employees without losing quality:
Project Management Technology
In today’s times, technology directly affects the labor productivity levels of any field.
Employees shouldn’t have to waste time documenting the same things in multiple places and then analyzing what previous work they completed. By employing project management software that stores construction documents and enables multi-location scheduling and timesheet management, construction companies can quickly track their work and save valuable time.
Project management software in construction comes with the following benefits:
- The trajectory of a project from conception to completion.
- A defined project timeline and schedule, for overall and pro-rated tasks and benchmarks.
- Documentation of Plans, Change Orders, RFIs, or daily reports in one centralized location with a tailored dashboard.
- Budget oversight, cash flow, and cost analysis.
- Progress and audit trails, consisting of a field report repository.
- Live monitoring of tasks and subtasks that are completed.
- Update related to new changes and tasks.
Construction projects are varied and customized and hence, need proper planning before implementation. With the help of construction management software such as JobProgress, Fieldwire, Contractor Foreman, and Buildertrend, you can create an integrated work environment to ensure all of the project stakeholders remain on the same page.
Strategically developed workflows reduce the possibility of downtime.
Improving daily workflows, whether they include worksite construction activities or organizational decision-making, can significantly make a difference in employee productivity. Usually, it is the small tasks that are most overlooked. Reviewing and rearranging daily workflows gradually can optimize the processes to make them faster and smoother.
Here is how to design efficient labor workflows:
- Creating a production measuring model representing a standard, data-driven formula to streamline workflows. This model helps to send adequately sized teams, benchmark logical production rates, and determine required staff hours to meet those rates.
- Enabling real-time communication check-ins through technology where stakeholders can review progress, answer queries, and brainstorm solutions to unexpected hurdles.
- Utilizing Building Information Modeling (BIM) that provides a pre-programmed projection of the overall plan and schedule. BIM extracts the data from blueprints and drawings to create a 3D model of every structure. It predicts how much time a task will take to complete, the costs of building materials, and other job costs. This prevents mismanagement and saves time from miscommunication.
The more detailed and organized your workflow is, the higher your employee productivity rates will be for a project.
3. Safety Programs
Guaranteeing onsite safety eliminates construction workers’ fear and skepticism.
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 1 in 10 construction workers suffer from a serious injury while working onsite. Such tragic incidents can instill fear among employees and eventually they may stop coming to work. Hence, ensuring safety should be the topmost priority of every construction company.
They should invest in several safety programs and train them to use tools and techniques on the job site. Taking these initiatives will increase employees’ trust and confidence in your company.
Another great way to ensure employee safety and make employees accountable for their own safety is a digital safety checklist. Digitized safety checklists may include a list of steps to take and not to take, what items to stay away from, what tools to keep at disposal, and other prohibited areas.
Moreover, low accident rates will avoid extra expenses and project delays.
4. Transparent Communication
Keeping open lines of communication nurtures a productive work environment.
Maintaining regular and transparent communication between the office, field, onsite supervisors, and construction workers prevent misunderstandings and help to adhere to project deadlines. Every team member, right from the project owner and architect to the contractor and on-site construction employee has to stay on the same page at every phase of the project.
A project management system designed around workflows can serve as a single point of reference for all the project teams. Sending frequent emails and memos, phone calls, and conducting face-to-face meetings are some effective communication tools. There should be a chat messaging platform exclusively for connecting the directory of all staff members.
Construction companies should communicate the significance of work productivity and how it impacts project timelines. This way, the employees develop a goal-oriented workplace culture that nurtures a sense of teamwork, mutual respect, and adherence to site protocols.
5. Motivational Incentives
Appreciation is the greatest motivation for any employee.
If you want to push your employees to be more productive and perform better, make them feel valued and recognized. When you notice employees who are excelling at their work, reward them with incentives like cash bonuses, gifts, health benefits, profit sharing, periodical prizes, or parties. This motivational workforce technique is also known as ‘gamification’.
Through project management tools and performance indicators, you can keep track of progress reports, attendance, and person-hour performance of every employee. Recognition for hard work is something every worker wants, especially in a physically demanding industry like construction.
Even if you incentivize, still you need to set attainable goals based on resources and deadlines. Extreme workloads can put too much pressure on construction workers, raising the chances of unwanted mistakes. Project managers who show compassion and appreciation to their workers publicly, tend to have more productive workers.
6. Skill Training
Workforce training and reskilling churn out confident, more efficient workers.
Construction employees bear the vital responsibility of completing tasks according to specifications and in a productive manner. Hence, adequate training is necessary for them to churn out efficient work confidently. Consistent training equips construction workers to overcome any challenges related to site and health safety.
Provide well-rounded training programs and apprenticeship programs for the workforce to learn the ropes of the trade. These apprentices include engaging in different construction tasks and learning advanced tools and skills to meet changing business needs. The construction company should empower its employees with basic IT knowledge like communicating through mobile applications, filling attendance records, updating daily tasks, and requesting building materials from providers.
Funders, trainers, and public officials who provide workforce training programs can tie up with construction contractors and companies to create industry-specific skill programs. At the same time, hiring experienced managers to lead your team is equally essential. Trained supervisors and managers know how to get things done within schedules.
7. On-site Execution and Material Planning
A well-organized and planned construction site saves time and prevents accidents.
Many clients complain of inconsistent on-site execution. For construction companies to truly improve their on-site execution, they must bring changes in all three aspects – management systems, technical systems, and work standards.
Before commencing a project, a PID (project initiation document) should be prepared to mention all the project specifications, costs, and timelines. This will help the team to determine end goals, the size of the workforce, and metrics for labor productivity measurement.
Next, devise a solid plan for material procurement and supply chain management. Digitized workflows result in better logistics management and on-time material delivery. As a good strategy, owners, suppliers, and construction contractors should maintain long-term supplier and contractor relationships. This will lessen the time and distance for transporting machinery, enable safe storage of materials, and reduce material wastage.
Lastly, set key performance indicators (KPIs) like training completion percentage rates, percentage of labor downtime, employee reviews, number of passed job site inspections, accident rates, etc. These KPIs can help stakeholders evaluate the team’s performance and accordingly, reward them with incentives. This encourages the workforce to be more productive in meeting end goals.
8. Delegate Tasks and Check-In
Assigning tasks based on employee skill sets will result in quality work and motivate employees.
Usually, the most talented workers end up getting burdened with most of the responsibilities. All the workers have individual strengths. Considering their particular skills, you must split different tasks and delegate them to suitable workers. This will ensure an even distribution of workload. When people are delegated tasks that they have expertise in, they deliver faster results.
On the other hand, regular check-ins of construction workers’ progress show that you are involved and attentive to their performance. You can workers questions like these:
- What have they accomplished at the end of each day?
- If they are on track to achieve their goals in the allotted time frame?
- How can they progress faster? What obstacles stand in their way?
- What can you do to help them eliminate the obstacles?
- Are there any safety complaints?
- How is the functioning of the management team?
Supportive efforts like these will not only enhance their productivity but also boost their morale.
9. Leverage Right Technology
Investing in cutting-edge technology is the fastest route with the highest rewards.
Emerging technologies have the power to drastically boost labor productivity rates. Here are the various ways to leverage the right technology for maximum output:
Utilizing prefabricated components assembled in outsourced factories can be installed more quickly than traditional structures. Such modulation techniques cut costs and save time.
Project Management Software
Cloud-based project management software connects the field to the office in real-time and streamlines all aspects of project management and execution. It enables informed decision-making.
Building Information Modeling
BIM is a highly collaborative software that extracts data from blueprints to create a realistic 3D model of the structure.
With this software, teams can collect, manage, and collaborate in real-time on field drawings, submittals, presentations, photos, and issues.
Mobile Construction Software
Mobile communications support a cohesive flow of information that seamlessly integrates team members’ mobile devices. The centralized computer system stores all project information from accounting and budgets to schedules and updates.
10. Inform Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
Employees having a clear idea of end goals will work harder and faster.
If you clearly instruct which specific tasks you want to be accomplished every day, the workers will work harder and faster to complete them, knowing that they can go home early and get paid fully. This is a great employee productivity tip.
Communicate openly about the short-term and long-term goals of the company. This clarity of purpose and expectations helps workers to deviate their focus in the right direction and become more productive.
Let them know you are using a productivity tracking system to monitor their quantity and quality of work. Give them your honest feedback in private. This increases trust and interpersonal relationships.
Every worker, regardless of industry, wishes to feel valued and seen by their hirers. If you want to improve construction productivity, try to understand issues that lead to low productivity and possible delays. Besides the above-mentioned solutions, inspect market conditions, weather conditions, and government policies to match your level of productivity with industry needs.
By implementing new technology, detailing your planning process, and establishing better means of communication, your company’s operational and site productivity will improve. When productivity increases, you stay ahead of your competitors in winning construction projects.
We are here to help you with any construction needs you may have. Contact us at Constructive Solutions, Inc.