Connect With the Construction Workforce Using Technology

Redeapp’s GM of Advisory Justin Rudwell recently contributed to Construction Executive, discussing the changing work demographic in construction. This post is a reprint of the full article. Content has been edited for clarity.

The modern-day construction executive has a lot on their mind. Business growth is still on an upward trajectory despite the impact of the pandemic, which is a good problem to have. At the same time, however, an aging workforce and competition for resources have led to historic demands for skilled labor. Operational and legal risks abound, with safety remaining paramount. So, one might expect that companies are falling over themselves to attract the best talent and keep them engaged and optimized, right? Well, not necessarily.

A CHANGING WORKFORCE DEMOGRAPHIC

While the well-being of the workforce should be at the core of company culture, far too many in the construction industry still fail to meet anything beyond the most basic of needs. Workers are seen as bodies to fill a shift, and the solution to turnover among the ranks is to “just get more bodies through the door.” This disconnect between desired business outcomes and management of the workforce is already having an impact on the collective mentality of those specialists upon whom the industry depends. According to a recent blog by Autodesk, only 37% of construction professionals reported a very high level of trust in their organizations. It doesn’t take a savant to work out that over time, this lack of trust will lead to a migration of workers away from those organizations that fail to adapt.

Gone are the days of a workforce that wants to stay with the same organization for 40 years in exchange for cold, hard cash. Money is obviously still a critical part of the reward equation and will remain so. But amongst the modern workforce, a sense of shared purpose, connectivity, recognition, and pride is equally important. So how can this “work trust” be achieved? The first step is to make the proper engagement of the workforce a top priority, but how this is done makes a measurable difference in the outcome. It requires going well beyond simply coming up with a mission statement that gets shared at a morning meeting once and is quickly forgotten. Proper engagement requires intent and investment of both time and money. The good news? It doesn’t have to cost a huge amount, and the upside is huge.

WORK TRUST IS CENTRAL TO WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT

Let’s dig a little deeper into the idea of work trust, and how this can lead to increased loyalty. Work trust is a behavioral outcome of an organization’s quantitative and qualitative investment in creating a culture of care, which in turn enables strong operational leadership and empowers the workforce. Quantitative investment is easy to define. In simple terms, invest in the right tool for the right job. In the case of the construction worker, this might look like a smart mobile platform delivered over personal phones that allows for communication, workflow support, and access to resources such as daily schedules, process checklists, or safety protocols. Qualitative investment speaks to the behaviors exhibited by leadership, such as type, tone, and frequency of communication. This holistic investment of time and money will result in a workforce that feels more supported and empowered, leading to measurable benefits such as employee engagement, performance, and retention.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SMART DESIGN

A primary focus for organizations who want to invest in work trust is the creation of the operational infrastructure. This acts as the backbone for connectivity in the workforce. A company can employ the best foremen in the world, but without a well-designed infrastructure to connect these managers in the critical middle to their employees, the strength of this asset is limited.

Smart technology design automates groupings that determine who receives which communication when, and what resources a particular individual has access to. Many platforms focus on the social aspect of communication and rely on manual management of groups, rather than operational performance designed for the needs of the end-user. Shopping around for a solution that will meet operational needs is not only worth the time and effort, but it will also positively contribute to the bottom line.

See full article from Construction Executive, here.

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