Angela Robbins Taylor
Safety Management Systems (SMS) was not a thing in the past. But if you look back over the last four decades in the construction industry, a lot has changed.
In the 1970s, it was simpler and probably cheaper just to pay a fine than support the safety of the workforce through training, equipment, and process improvement. Now, safety is of utmost importance.
Find out why focusing on construction safety management can result in positive outcomes for your projects.
Construction Safety Management: Less Risk; More Reward
Construction safety has undergone a systemic overhaul in the last few decades to create a culture that values the employee over the profit. This culture creates a more enticing career opportunity for those coming into the industry.
Safety culture generates more for companies than just goodwill with employees. Safer jobs keep insurance premiums down, create better customer satisfaction, and create a better jobsite for all trades. The key to creating a strong safety culture is to manage risk and empower employees.
Managing risk boils down to two key areas:
1. General Safety Awareness
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers an entire catalog of safety courses. If you are not a professional in the safety world, it can be daunting to sort through all the options. Start by thinking about the general awareness needed by all employees, especially those in the field, and follow up with items that are more specific to your trade.
At the minimum, general safety awareness can be garnered from the completion of a course like OSHA 10. Oftentimes, this course is seen as the only general awareness course necessary for entry-level employees.
However, an introduction to a safety mindset that is unique and specific to your organization complements the 10-hour general course with the specifics you find to be most important. As craft workers progress through their careers, increasing their knowledge of general issues in safety and how to lead safety programs is critical.
Safety leadership courses and safety for supervisors can be sourced through OSHA or community colleges, union halls, or community-based training organizations. However, once you source the information, it is critical that all employees speak the same safety language and understand how to spot hazards and manage risk for themselves and their teams.
Each trade will need specific courses that apply to their work in order to create a safe working environment for the craft workforce. Staying engaged in safety education should be a primary method for keeping safety awareness at the forefront of all construction workforce.
Additionally, as each job is being prepped and the workforce assigned, it is necessary to check the credentials and certifications that are necessary to complete the job. Keeping on top of safety training and ensuring that each time a competent person is provided for the jobsite is critical. A little extra specialized safety training reduces risk significantly for the entire project.
2. Hazard Analysis and Mitigation
Beyond training, it is critical that all employees are able to identify potential hazards and plan to reduce risk in their work through mitigation or elimination of the hazard.
As work begins each day, it is important that the focus starts with safety. For this reason, as safety management systems have been designed and implemented, job hazard analysis (JHA) or job safety analysis (JSA) have become best practice.
Start each shift with a review of the planned work, the potential hazards, and the correct options for reducing risk. Then, discuss the plan with the entire team. This effort will create a sense of being valued by each other and the company.
Trade partners that do not utilize the JHA/JSA process are missing a critical step that creates a safety culture inside their company. Having everyone on the same page before work begins sends people home safely and willing to return to work the next day.
Safety is personal, and it is corporate. Safe job sites are the responsibility of everyone present. However, there is a hierarchy in the workforce that sometimes keeps individuals from feeling empowered to stop work when they see issues for fear of being wrong or retaliation or even lost time in production.
When we fail to give employees the power to stop work (Stop Work Authority or SWA), we communicate that they are not valuable and that their expertise and observations are devalued. Giving employees the right and encouraging them to own the safety of their jobs is a powerful tool for creating engaged and loyal employees.
Empowering employees also trickles out in the community. The general population will see safe workers performing jobs in the public eye, increasing the reputation of construction work as respectable work performed by highly skilled workers.
Build Your Safety Programs With C3
From our inception, Construction Career Collaborative (C3) has seen that safety is key to raising the playing field for our workforce. Creating a pipeline of employees for the craft trades requires that the employers have safety and skills training at the forefront of all they do.
We have developed a set of safety modules that can be used on jobsites to refresh the safety mindset on general safety awareness. Additionally, our safety committee has created a basic JHA for use by anyone who doesn’t have their own format.
Safety is critical to job performance. You can create a safe culture in your company that your employees want and deserve.
Want to help us plan the next set of safety support services to be offered by C3? Find out how to join our safety committee to help us lead the way in supporting construction safety management.
Quality Improvement in Construction Projects: Focusing on Quality Management and Control
Angela Robbins Taylor
Every project should be a quality project.
Every team should be a quality team.
And every day should demonstrate commitment to excellence in quality management.
Lean Six Sigma tells us that quality is a key predictor of customer satisfaction and that managing the quality of our product reduces rework and delivers a better result for owners and contractors alike.
Let’s dig deeper into how we can make a quality improvement in construction projects.
Designing a Quality Management Process
Each trade partner has a role to play in the final project delivery. Therefore, they must each have a way of measuring and managing the output of their teams for quality standards. Contracting companies should follow two key steps when developing a quality management system.
Prepare for Quality Assurance
Quality touches many aspects of construction processes, including:
There are always some things that are beyond the contractor’s control, such as a product defect. However, it is possible to create higher-quality deliverables with planning.
When designing a quality assurance program, it should be linked to the company’s long-term strategy and focus on the most critical elements that impact the deliverable the customer receives. When preparing for quality assurance, companies should include the following:
1. Identifying Root Causes for Current Quality Issues
Before implementing any new program, assessing your current state of work is crucial. Not only do you have to consider what is an acceptable outcome, but you have to think about how it can effectively alter your work.
If specific errors are recurrent in your work, digging into the root cause will provide insight into how to prevent them through process, product, and training changes.
2. Defining Quality Standards
Once the issues have been identified and a cause for current quality errors is determined, it is time to define acceptable quality standards for the contractor.
Quality standards could include:
A company could approach this definition as a collaborative action with the field and office working together to determine what can be completed in a project environment. Including your field experts in this definition will also lay the groundwork for quicker adoption of the program when it rolls out to the company because they had a voice in defining what would be expected.
3. Delivering Training
Now that a contractor has identified the recurrent errors and has defined the quality measurements going forward, it is essential to train employees who the quality management process will impact. Again, based on what was uncovered in the root cause analysis, this may include various training programs.
At a minimum, it should include the following:
Program Rollout Training
Training must be a key component before the start date when a company institutes any new program, from quality to vacation to benefits. Ensuring that all employees, both in the field and office, are comfortable with their roles and how the new program impacts them is critical to keeping employees engaged and ready to assist the company in achieving its goals.
Identify all the different job roles affected and the level of training or awareness they might need to support the program. Sometimes the training may be an email or notification that a new program is happening. Other times, it should be a more in-depth overview of how the program will impact a specific set of processes for doing work.
If you ask your employees to deliver a better product to your customer, you must enable them to build the skills necessary.
Developing and delivering skills training to ensure a high-quality workforce starts with assessing their current and needed skill levels and identifying how to close the gap between the two levels. Some examples include:
However you address the skills training ensures that safety is addressed as well.
Implement a quality management process
All the pieces you have created must then be rolled into a process allowing the company to manage and measure the effective change in quality output.
The implementation should include a process that is:
Quality Improvement in Construction Projects: Deliver with Intention
“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort. – John Ruskin.
As with most things that make a difference to a company’s bottom line, your intention drives change. Therefore, creating a simple and easily replicated program throughout different offices and geographies or with other departments is critical.
Do you need help understanding how to design for replicability and leverage our simple process for designing training programs that define good and evaluate performance? Contact us today to get access to your free design tools and discuss how we can further your quality improvement in construction projects and workforce.
EMERGE Program: Pivoting From Reliance on “1099 Workers” to a Sustainable Workforce
C3 Relationship Manager
In the competitive construction industry, it has become a common practice for specialty contractors that desire to avoid employee and payroll-related overhead to utilize “1099 workers” to reduce financial obligations and deliver the lowest bids to win work. However, often this strategy leads to the misclassification of the workers that drive company operations and production.
Mark Erlich, a Harvard Fellow, writes that the misclassification of workers and the related ramifications “add to the inherently insecure nature of the trades.” This insecurity is a barrier to entry for talent in the trades. Add to that the aging workforce leaving the industry like a silver tsunami and the estimated 350,000 new workers the industry requires in 2024 leaves the construction craft workforce unsustainable.
The construction industry must embrace change to ensure operational excellence, productivity, and a sustainable workforce.
Pivoting to a Sustainable Workforce?
The misclassification of workers realistically may help companies to save costs. However, this practice can be the omen of financial, ethical, and legal ruin.
The federal tax authority levies significant penalties for misclassification, including:
The costliest penalty may not be financial or legal; however, it has the most significant and long-lasting impact. The misclassification of workers can devastate the reputation of construction companies and jeopardize their ability to secure future business deals. Credible project owners view companies with a misclassified workforce as:
Shifting for Forward Momentum
Construction companies that employ the W2 sustainable workforce can avoid these consequences by shifting their talent management and experiencing greater project control, increased employee loyalty, and the impact of employees who support the mission.
The schedule, work that is performed, and the operational process are all controlled by the company. If we want things to be done with a standard of excellence, employees give us that control.
Employees are more loyal when there is a sense of financial security and a long-term investment from the employer that includes both consistent work and training for increased responsibility.
Employees possess the tribal knowledge that makes a company unique. Leveraging their support to pass down crucial skills to new employees and allowing them to showcase how they can deliver upon a multitude of responsibilities supports the employee and company equally.
EMERGE as a Quality Contractor!C3 is dedicated to aiding companies that may be navigating the operational pivot to building a more sustainable workforce. Helping small contractors, previous C3 Project Participants, and the Greater Houston-area M/WBE trade partners is our mission.
C3 has launched a new program called EMERGE.
This program welcomes companies to partner with the C3 team, utilize our team members, and tap into our career pathways consulting capabilities and training courses to add value to EMERGE participating companies.
This process makes it possible to pivot from “1099 Workers” to a sustainable workforce. We’ll help Project Participants smoothly transition to becoming Accredited Employers. Companies in the EMERGE program can expect a seamless process:
Scheduling an enrollment call is the first step to optimizing the performance of your workforce and company. Take the first step today to help create a sustainable future for everyone.
Angela Robbins Taylor
Company success depends on consistently tracking progress, like monitoring annual revenue, project backlog, cash flow, and other items that indicate your company's health. But we need to work on using these pieces of data to differentiate our company from all the others around us.
Finding the unique things your company does that allow you to succeed or the things holding you back in your growth plan is critical to creating longevity and financial success for your organization. That's why tracking the key performance indicators construction stakeholders need to be aware of is essential.
What is a Key Performance Indicator in Construction?
KPIs are defined by Investopedia as the set of quantifiable measurements used to gauge a company's overall long-term performance. Think of these as the metrics used to measure whether your company can do the job you have been tasked with accomplishing.
They must demonstrate how you will perform long-term and what makes you a safer bet for investors, contractors, and owners. Additionally, having the data that tracking performance provides allows your company to identify and pivot as needed to progress forward.
Targeting two major elements can drive your organization to the top and set you apart as a leader in your trade.
Construction KPIs: Job Performance
Being a top-tier construction company does not just happen without a plan. Building a long-term set of goals and visions should include setting out to measure the success of your job performance. Defining, measuring, and then refining your performance in the following areas is critical:
Quality can be measured in a few different ways. At a minimum, it should include what type of defects or rework is being seen, how much time defects and rework require from the workforce, and the total cost of defects and rework.
For each trade, general contractor, and owner, the specific details that will be tracked may be different. Still, the KPIs should include a detailed look at the following elements:
These indicators can predict issues with suppliers, training of employees, and problems with schedules that make future projects more successful.
When addressing safety performance, oftentimes, we get caught up in the numbers surrounding lost time incidents, workers' compensation claims, and root cause analysis. While that data is relevant and critical, it is not the only item to include in your metrics to differentiate your company as among the safest.
Safety experts agree that a safety program that measures participation and leadership, hazard identification and control, training, and continuous improvement is vital.
Participation and Leadership
The only way to have a truly effective safety program is to have full participation that starts with senior leadership and extends throughout the company. Building a safety culture starts with creating a program that everyone will be required to participate in and manage – both personally and organizationally.
Hazard Identification and Control
Ensuring your safety program is built around hazard identification, control, and elimination is critical for its success. Measuring how well this is done on the job site can impact your ability to provide a safer work environment for everyone on the job site even beyond those in your teams.
Training and Continuous Improvement
Like all skills, safety must be taught, assessed, and constantly refined. When looking at the success of your safety program and defining KPIs, ensuring that safety education is integrated into trade skills training and continuously evaluated for improvement is critical. A company that fails to connect safety and trade skills will suffer long-term with more accidents and higher costs.
Traditionally, we see productivity measured by the output of our employees. For example, how many linear feet of concrete was laid or gypsum was hung?
But a more meaningful indicator of long-term success and bottom-line impact is the measure of time spent not on the job-specific tasks both for your employees and your equipment. For example, a rented crane that is not used for two weeks but also not returned, or a worker who spends two hours over the course of the day riding the elevator getting material to the correct locations.
The bottom line of your revenue is more impacted by what your equipment and people don’t get to do than what they do in many situations. Tracking productivity can be a significant differentiator for companies.
Construction KPIs: Engaged Employees
Acknowledging that your workforce significantly impacts company performance is critical. Knowing what to measure regarding this resource gives you an edge over the competition to proactively identify issues with the crew.
Quickly identifying and addressing how you hire, train, reward, and retain employees is a lever that triggers cascading benefits throughout the organization.
Understanding what metrics to watch and which responses to take with reference to employee performance will drive long-term project performance. According to Oracle, a workforce planning and management system should include metrics like:
Leveraging an HRIS (Human Resource Information System) can make it much simpler to gather, analyze, and respond to data related to the human element of your company.
Work With C3 to Use the Data Effectively
There is so much data to capture concerning your company's performance in the market and on the jobsite. Ensuring that you continue beyond the simple indications of success, like revenue and cash flow, will lead to a more robust outlook.
Consider us a resource if you need support setting up and defining KPIs. Giving you the upper hand with workforce and performance is part of the C3 program, and your participation with us makes us all better.
Being an Accredited Employer is the first step to optimizing the performance of your workforce and company, helping create a sustainable future for everyone.
Contact us today to discuss key performance indicators construction stakeholders need to implement, monitor, and analyze.
Angela Robbins Taylor
Do you want to find a better job or have the chance to be advanced in your trade? Then you need to invest in trade skills training. In workforce management, we call this investment “upskilling.”
While trade skills training is important to many industries, it is especially so for construction. So who is most likely to benefit from participating in training to grow their career path?
Candidates for Trade Skills Training
There are four basic populations that should seek trade skills training:
If you are one of these individuals, keep reading to find out what makes a good training program for you.
Finding the Right Program
Skills training should include a variety of items in the curriculum but should mainly focus on providing practical knowledge and practice to grow competency in a trade. When shopping for a trade school or trade training program, it's important to remember that this is much like buying a car or a house.
Training programs come with a variety of price tags and amenities attached. So, as a guideline, make sure you examine the following items:
Depending upon what type of program you are seeking the content should always include some theory and a lot of hands-on practice. Additionally, you should ask if the content will include items like financial literacy, fluency in a second language, and rigorous safety training.
2. Time Commitment
Now that you've examined your content let's look at your time commitment. Time commitment is often driven by whether a program is registered as an apprenticeship, offered as on the job, or is a pre-work boot camp.
Registered apprenticeship programs must follow specific guidelines that allocate a certain number of hours to skill development relative to the number of hours in a classroom. Registered apprenticeships can run from one year to five years. They must be closely documented and provide enrolled trainees the ability to practice in the field alongside a journeyman as a working employee. They are offered by many different training providers including:
On-the-job training generally has no set timeline. The learner is given some supervision and some education throughout the course of a work day and is allowed to progress at their own speed. While some employers leverage a competency map which may be guided by suggested timelines, many employers allow for expedited movement through their OJT programs or slower progress as is needed by the organization and individual.
As construction continues to recruit more employees to manage the ongoing influx of construction projects, pre-employment boot camps are becoming a vital option for trade skilling programs.
Boot camps can range anywhere from 40 hours to 8 weeks. Much like military boot camps, these skills boot camps are meant to quickly prepare prospective employees to enter long-term training programs. Unlike apprenticeships and OJT programs, boot camps allow you to more quickly skill up for entry-level positions but generally do not allow you to work simultaneously.
When upskilling yourself in the trades it is important to weigh out the investment of the schooling to the return. Often apprenticeships, OJT, and even boot camps are free or employer-sponsored, but independent trade schools may charge tuition. These programs are good for unique niche skills specific to a trade. How training providers price their programs varies so it's important to consider cost versus quality received.
4. Help with Employment
If you choose a provider that is not an employer or does not sponsor employment during training then knowing how you will find employment upon completion is critical. Nothing is worse than obtaining your certification only to find out that no one is hiring. It is good to know upfront if they offer placement services.
Step Up Your Career
The greatest piece of advice I've ever received was that my career is mine to own. So do all the trade professionals who hopefully read this blog. You are the master of your destiny. And we are here to help you steer your destiny in the right direction.
Don't hesitate to reach out to Construction Career Collaborative (C3), where we are working with the top contractors, training partners, and community partners to grow careers and opportunities for trade professionals.
We may not have a job for you today, but we know that your skills and desire to step up your career will make you integral to the workforce building our tomorrow. Talk to us today about trade skills training that fits the stage of your career.
Construction Workforce Management: a Critical Tool to Increase Safety and Productivity in the Field
Angela Robbins Taylor
Construction workforce management is so much more than just scheduling the crews to show up at the job. It is knowing your bench strength and leveraging it to produce better outcomes through people who are safer, more engaged, and highly productive.
With the introduction of many pieces of software to support construction management digitally, you can become more innovative and appeal to the next generation of construction professionals.
3 Key Steps to Optimize Construction Workforce Management
Like any good sports coach or general manager, you need to know your people, the game you are playing, and how to assemble a skilled roster to win the game. Find out how to strategically support workforce management for construction projects.
1. Know Your Bench
Knowing your bench is a sports term that indicates you have skills that are not currently playing but are available as you need them. For a coach or a project executive to best utilize their roster of available workers, they have to have access to and fully understand two pieces of data:
2. Identify Skills
When you are setting up a “game” or project plan, you must understand the unique set of skills you need to accomplish the goal (win the game).
For construction teams, this means understanding the skills necessary to bid the job, prepare for the job, complete the job, and be able to service the job while moving to the next one.
Three steps can help you quickly identify the skills necessary and capture who has the competency to provide them:
Once you have completed these steps, you can capture the mastered skills in a central location.
3. Create a Game Plan
Starting with bidding and estimating the project, it’s critical to have a game plan in place to arrive at ultimate project success.
Consider using a resource allocation strategy that has estimators working in real-time with project superintendents that will be moving to projects as they are won. This step will allow the team to more accurately understand the potential for risk and mitigate it at the onset.
When the team is planned based on the type of work to be completed and their level of mastery of the work to be performed, you end up with a better project.
Get Innovative and Go Digital Managing the Workforce
In the long run, the more your teams work together and can make decisions quickly through digital tools and innovative methodologies, the better the quality and productivity of the workforce.
As we move into the next generation of high-tech workers arriving on our project job sites, it will be imperative to manage them with flexible, digital products. But even more so is the need for them to be well-trained in all aspects of the job.
When reviewing your capabilities around construction workforce management, find the answer to these two questions:
To learn more, sign up for the C3 News Brief and follow us on social media. Get access to the latest tips and tricks to creating a safer, better-skilled, and more sustainable craft workforce.
Angela Robbins Taylor
Career and Technical Education (CTE) is what we might have formerly called vocational education. It prepares students on the verge of entering a career field to gain skills and become more actively prepared for what is to come after graduation.
The best CTE programs include construction simply because construction is one of the primary ways students can start a career path with an abundance of positions, more than livable wages, and the ability to advance.
Let’s take a closer look at including construction in your school district’s CTE program.
How Construction Fits into the Best CTE Programs
When discussing what makes a good CTE construction training program, we have to think about three key items.
1. Safety Training
Safety training must be the priority right at the beginning of all Career and Technical Education construction programs. Without a quality safety emphasis, students come out of high school unprepared to identify the potential dangers on a job site.
At a minimum, students should understand how to identify hazards and the mitigations that can be placed into effect to prevent job site injuries.
While construction across the United States does not have standardized requirements for entry-level employees in construction, the best CTE programs should provide OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 as certifications students can achieve prior to graduation.
Offering the OSHA 10-Hour and 30-Hour training will provide students with opportunities to achieve certifications before graduation. In addition, this effort will create larger pools of opportunity for them to be hired and immediately placed into positions that are attached to apprenticeships or other on-the-job training programs.
2. Skill Development
Skill development is the single highest determiner of the success of high-quality CTE programs in construction. Therefore, it is crucial for CTE directors and academic curriculum providers to continuously improve and manage programs to include relevant skill development that includes application and competency assessment.
If you are looking for the highest quality commercial construction training programs, three things should be part of your curriculum search:
Input from an advisory board made up of current commercial construction businesses.
The value of an advisory board is twofold. First, the teachers have access to current employees to bring into the classroom, and administrators have the ability to consistently check to ensure that programs are targeted at the skills most in demand currently. Additionally, an excellent advisory member is also a potential employer for graduating students.
78% of contractors continue to say skilled workers are in short supply. But only 23% report career training as a key business strategy. This discrepancy means funding and cultivating an advisory board is challenging, but it remains critical to developing a post-graduation workforce pipeline.
Access to the latest pieces of technology, like BIM and other automated planning tools, shows students that technology is gaining momentum in the field.
As digital natives move through high school and into the workforce, having technology that assists their job is essential to their success. They know the power of technology and expect that their jobs will include it to provide efficiency and productivity.
Graduating seniors may enter any of multiple trades even though your program focuses on electrical or plumbing. Therefore, it is critical that the program you offer provides a strong foundation in general construction skills.
General construction skills like construction math, plan reading, the basics of hand and power tool safety, and more training can expose students to various trades available on their career path upon graduating.
3. Employability Skills
Employability skills are often identified as the most missing skill among the incoming workforce. When the industry uses employability skills, they are referring to:
A construction program can help students develop these crucial “soft skills” before entering the workforce, making them more readily employable in the industry.
Give Your CTE Program a Boost with Construction
In the end, a successful CTE program will include safety, skill, and employability training in curriculums. But the best CTE programs will consist of construction because it is an industry that will never disappear. It will provide students who are not headed to college with a defined career path and will help students find satisfying work that is essential to our economy and critical to the infrastructure of life.
Construction Career Collaborative (C3) is full of contractors and trade partners who want to help invest in the technical training of the future. We support active integration between your CTE program and our partnering companies. If your school district needs access to advisory boards, curriculums, or hiring events, we can help.
We invite you to join our educational advisory board. Make your construction CTE program stand out above the rest.
Angela Robbins Taylor
Finding skilled workers can be the hardest part of growing your business. The skilled workforce is dwindling as fewer young people enter the skilled trades and more people age out into retirement.
We want that magic bullet to tell us where to find skilled workers ready for job deployment, but seeking an instant solution to a long-term problem creates the hire-and-fire cycle of many construction companies.
Suppose you continue to find yourself wondering where to find skilled construction workers. In that case, it’s time to start the journey of finding and retaining the best-skilled construction workforce for better project efficiency.
6 Questions to Ask About Your Workforce Talent Pipeline
Take a look at the top six questions for trade partners to ask when looking for a better-skilled construction workforce talent pipeline:
1. Who Do You Need?
Understanding who you want to hire is the single most important question any business owner can ever ask about their skilled workforce.
Permanent or Temporary?
This can be a very difficult question to answer. Do I need someone to stay with me and grow because the business is growing? Or is this a short-term temporary position needed to complete work on a seasonal level or large-scale project?
When looking to build a skilled construction workforce, it is better to be focused on growth and permanence than hiring for temporary work accelerations.
Temporary workers, while valuable for seasonal work or to help quickly finish a job, are largely unskilled. If your company truly needs skilled construction workers, it is important that you identify their skill sets and how you will utilize them on the job site to quickly screen out anyone who doesn't match your long-term or short-term strategic need.
2. What Do You Need Them to Do?
This is the $1,000,000 question! Having a clear understanding of the expectations on the job for your employees leads to better hiring. Of course, you know exactly what good looks like when you see it on a job site. Capturing the competencies necessary for your job is simply a function of answering that question: “What does good look like?”
Be sure to answer the question of what good looks like for each of the following categories:
3. When Do You Need Them on the Job Site?
The more urgent your need, the more likely you will buy or borrow your talent. But if you are working toward the future, building your talent is a long-term solution to your skilled construction workforce issue.
Buy vs. Borrow vs. Build
4. Where Will You Find Them?
There are a lot of places you can look to find potential workers who are skilled or want to be skilled. Here are a few of the best ways to identify a potential workforce:
5. Why Will They Stay?
Putting in all the work to find a skilled construction workforce doesn't make sense if they don't stay with your company. Talking about how to retain your employees is a topic for another day, but it's critical that each company puts thought into their culture. Hammr.com lists the following as critical to creating a culture of retention.
Keys to Company Culture
6. How Will You Grow Their Skills?
Continue to invest in your people! Here are three actions you can take.
Find More Help on Where to Find Skilled Construction Workers
You don’t have to go at it alone building a talent pipeline for your company. If you need help getting started with building your skilled workforce talent, reach out to C3.
Call us today for a consultation. We can be reached at 713-999-1013.
Angela Robbins Taylor
Safety issues in construction should always be top of the mind for construction leaders at general contractors. As safety has moved to the forefront of job sites across the nation in the last few decades, we have seen a considerable increase in positive safety culture and the ability to prevent injury and lost time for our craft professionals.
But there are still many ways that safety issues in construction can be addressed that go beyond the classroom and get to the main barriers to safety on jobsites.
Consider four ways to address safety issues with your trade partners that will reduce incidents and increase productivity.
How General Contractors Impact the Safety Culture on Job Sites
Require all craft professionals to participate in daily hazard analysis with their crew.
Let’s take a closer look at these recommended actions.
1. Require Craft Professionals to Participate in a Daily Hazard Analysis
We talk about job hazard analysis all the time in classrooms where safety is the primary topic of instruction. When we include our craft professionals in the analysis of hazards while actually on the job site, we increase their ability to identify in real-time things that can go wrong for both themselves and other individuals in their crew.
A daily hazard analysis done by an entire crew also ensures that each individual craft worker is aware:
Accidents are more likely to happen when there is confusion or a lack of understanding of the work to be completed.
2. Encourage Different Trade Partners to Plan Work Together
Job sites are very crowded and oftentimes different trade partners are working side by side without ever speaking to the other.
For example, the hazards identified by an electrician will always be different from the hazards identified by a drywall installer. They work in different spaces and have different frames of reference, yet their work often overlaps. When GCs allow trade partners to work in isolation, they increase the possibility that:
Even if pulling together all the trade partners can be time-consuming and may seem difficult, the outcome can increase safety and productivity by allowing trade partners to collaborate to create efficiency in small workspaces.
3. Provide for Language Barriers
When Construction Career Collaborative (C3) offers English for construction workers, we hear from craft professionals who are not native English speakers that they feel safer and more knowledgeable as they increase their English proficiency.
While this feedback seems incredibly obvious, we oftentimes fail to provide second language speaking craftworkers with tools to encourage them to be more prepared and better able to communicate safety concerns to English-speaking supervisors.
It is imperative that we empower our workforce through inclusive training programs that include language skills if we genuinely want to see a decrease in safety issues on construction sites and an increase in our safety cultures.
Beyond English for construction workers, Spanish for construction supervisors is equally valuable for:
4. Create a Stop Work Authority Culture that Promotes Safety as a Community Effort
According to books published by the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), stop work authority is empowering everyone on the team to fulfill their safety responsibilities. As a general contractor, you manage many teams that must play together and create safety equally across the jobsite. CCPS has shared this important lesson to keep in mind:
“Leaders should make it clear that any employee can stop work or shut down the job if they perceive a potentially unsafe situation. Employees who exercise stop work authority should be complimented, not criticized. When stop work authority is used, leaders should avoid second-guessing the decision. Instead, understand the reason for the decision to stop work and address the root cause.”
When we support our workforce and trust them to behave in the best interest of the job and the team, we create a true safety culture.
Learn More About Safety Issues in Construction
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“But They Aren't My Employees” - 3 Reasons the Construction Labor Shortage Belongs to the Owner
Angela Robbins Taylor
I'm sure you've read countless articles on the construction labor shortage and the lack of craft trade professionals who can meet the demand for building projects in our current environment.
But you are just the construction project owner, and all of those people belong to your GC and their trade partners. This isn't your problem to solve, right? Wrong!
We'll show you three reasons owners need to be part of the solution for the craftwork shortage.
3 Ways Owners Can Address the Construction Labor Shortage
1. Don’t settle for cheap - “low price doesn’t always win.”
2. Require safety as a culture.
3. Expect highly trained professionals.
1. Low Price Doesn’t Always Win
Coming in on budget is a critical measure of success for building owners. However, as the skilled trade workforce shortage increases, project costs rise.
Owners are always looking for a project that can come in cheaper, but what drives that lower cost? The main variable for pricing between two competing trade partners will always be labor.
With turnover rates nearing 40%, according to a Construction Dive report, having enough crew to complete your project is often questionable. When low price wins, subcontractors are forced to become creative in how they employ skilled workers, including misclassifying or failing to pay workers correctly.
The cost of hiring a replacement for an entry-level $50,000 skilled worker averages 20% of their annual salary, or $10,000. That $10,000 shows up in the owner’s pocketbook in one of two ways:
Requiring a workforce that is both skilled and held as an employee by the trade partner in your contracting process creates an environment that prevents damage from the “low price always wins” approach.
Owners got to “low price” because the only thing that could shift was the cost of labor. It is time for owners to make the shift back to buying for quality as well as cost.
2. Require Safety as a Culture
Low price isn't all that costs owners when you don't own the workforce. Safety becomes critical when workers rotate in and out and have little or no training.
We find repeatedly that safety is directly impacted by the training received and the time on the job. A constant stream of new workers who have little or no experience on job sites or have previously been employed on less complicated job sites creates danger for multiple parties, including the following individuals:
There is a reason we give them different colored hard hats to identify workers as new. When accidents happen, job sites lose productivity, workers become distracted thinking about the accident and filling out paperwork, and sometimes job sites can even be shut down.Accidents cost owners.
Again, asking for your general contractor or construction manager to require a certain level of safety training prior to working on the job site is a simple way for you to own a safer and more productive workforce.
If you want the right workforce to build your building, it's important to set the tone from the very beginning that safety is a part of your company's culture and your company's culture extends to what your company builds.
3. Expect Highly Trained Professionals
For a long time, construction was just “blue-collar work,” but more and more, it's becoming evident that it is a craft that requires time and practice to master.
You do not become a master plumber, master electrician, or master Mason overnight. It is time that we call them professionals like their project manager, architect, estimator, or business developer counterparts.
While construction workers do not earn their degrees in laboratories or classroom seats, they are professionals, nonetheless. Your favorite basketball player or football star didn't learn their craft in a classroom either. If you want the best work, you must hire the best workforce.
Ask your general contractor to consider and weigh in the bid process the amount of training that each company provides for their craft workforce. This is one way that owners create a better place for craft professionals.
Own Up to Your Role Supporting the Craft Workforce
Technically, you don't own the craft professional workforce. But, you can impact how they show up on your job and how your job gets done.
Asking for better employees on your jobsite elevates the playing field for the industry, which indirectly increases the likelihood that others who might be interested in the industry begin to see it as a valuable, honorable, life-long career.
Taking action now is the best way to address the construction labor shortage and increase the quality of craft workers available for your jobs. Achieving the desired result depends upon your own ability to do the following:
- Estimate better the cost of labor and materials to generate the quality of project that you desire, thereby creating a better costing model that rejects low cost always wins.
- Work with design professionals, construction partners, and community partners to facilitate conversation about the benefits of being part of the built environment in our community to recruit new construction craft professionals.
- Own your part of having created the problem. Commit to working with partners like Construction Career Collaborative (C3) to create a better future through a safer, more skilled, and sustainable workforce.
We invite you to join our email list. The C3 News Brief includes valuable information for owners to support your projects. To be added to our list, simply drop your email address in the sign-up box on our Contact page.
Construction Industry Institute (CII)
Construction Users Roundtable (CURT)
National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)