Whether you own or manage a construction business, you know that motivated workers with a positive attitude are the magic ingredient that can smooth over many typical jobsite issues, such as unexpected setbacks, bad weather, or tight project schedules.
Conversely, when employee morale is low, such issues will only escalate, sometimes to the point of derailing the entire project.
So, what can construction company owners and managers do to improve the morale of construction workers and keep them happy, engaged, and productive?
Here are eight great tips.
In this article...
Ask Your Workers to Fill Out a Survey
A recent Gallup study revealed that 64% of American workers were either “not engaged at work” (51%) or “actively disengaged at work” (13%).
Therefore, employers have much to learn about motivating their employees and keeping their spirits and productivity high.
Asking your workers to fill out a survey can be very useful in learning what issues are affecting their morale, which will help you gain insight into what could be done to improve it.
However, for a survey to be effective, a few conditions must be met.
First, to get honest feedback, your employees should be reassured that the survey is genuinely anonymous and confidential; otherwise, you’ll get answers they think you want to hear.
Anonymity is best achieved by outsourcing the survey to an independent third party that will guarantee your company won’t receive any data that might allow employee identification.
As for what questions to ask, here are fifteen to give you an idea, courtesy of QuestionPro.
As you can see, candid answers to these questions will provide measurable results and insights into any significant issues that might be keeping employee morale low.
The other key caveat of such surveys is that you and the entire management team must be ready to act based on the feedback received from the survey.
Otherwise, if your workers feel they answered all those questions for nothing, it will further sour their relationship with the company and towards work in general.
Finally, if done properly, a survey can provide invaluable information about what your company can do to improve employee morale while at the same time showing workers you respect their opinion and are ready to take corrective action.
Ensure That Your Construction Workers Are Safe
The effects of any serious, let alone fatal, jobsite accident on the morale of your construction workers can be devastating.
The opposite effect is achieved when the top management promotes a safety-first culture and takes every precaution to keep workers safe.
You don’t need construction injury statistics to tell you that construction sites can be very dangerous, so the best way to keep accidents from thwarting your workers’ motivation and productivity is to lead by example.
This implies that all jobsite safety measures, protocols, and procedures are in place, your workers are well-trained and have all the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need for safe work.
Then comes the promotion of jobsite safety culture, ranging from management wearing safety gear when on-site to offering incentives for following safety practices.
All this will ensure that both the safety and morale on your jobsites remain high.
Here are six more ways to improve the safety culture, courtesy of ConstructConnect:
Remember, your company’s top priority should be to ensure all aspects of workplace safety, ultimately serving as the best possible morale booster.
In other words, your jobsites should also be free of any kind of harassment, bullying, or discrimination since such behaviors can have detrimental effects on the targeted workers but everyone around them as well.
Therefore, ensuring that your construction workers are safe and feel that way on the job is an excellent way to improve their morale and, by extension, their engagement and productivity.
Provide Your Workers With the Right Tools
Providing your workers with the right tools will boost not only their morale, but also their safety and productivity.
And, similar to how safety doesn’t mean just wearing a hard hat, having the right tools doesn’t just mean ensuring workers have what they need to do their job.
It means ensuring that the tools and equipment workers are using don’t make their job harder, and that’s what happens when they’re forced to work with unfit, low-quality, or outdated tools and equipment.
When that’s the case, workers’ morale takes a dive along with their quality of work.
It’s also important to consider what construction technology your company could utilize to streamline construction operations and make everyone’s job easier.
Nowadays, there are countless options for different construction tech gadgets and software solutions, from project management software to office-field communication apps.
Since you might be already using any of those, here’s a simple solution that could further enhance employee morale—GoCodes.
Workers can quickly locate the exact tool or piece of equipment they need, which boosts their productivity.
Moreover, if a tool gets lost or stolen, they can also be sure they won’t be wrongly accused of being the culprit, since this app will show where the item is or who had it last.
Therefore, with careful planning and smart technology, you can provide your workers with all the right tools they need, which will increase their enthusiasm and productivity, as well as your company’s equipment management and overall operational efficiency.
Establish an Open Door Policy
This one is simple if you mean it. But the main problem with a manager saying, “My door is always open,” is that they often don’t mean it.
That lowers employee morale and discourages them from sharing not only what’s troubling them at work, but also other information that can be vital for project success.
In other words, a true open-door policy means you’re constantly creating an environment where construction workers feel comfortable communicating with you and other team members, sharing feedback, and discussing problems.
Of course, considering the complexity of construction projects and human nature, an effective open-door policy requires managers to have a wide set of skills and traits, for instance, the ones listed below.
Although some of these traits are more or less innate, almost all are skills that can be learned, developed, and practiced.
Therefore, establishing an open-door policy won’t do much unless individual managers, supervisors, and team leaders actively work on being good communicators and even better listeners.
Moreover, they must be fair, stand behind their word, and be accountable for their mistakes.
Overall, establishing an open-door policy can make a big difference in ensuring that employees feel heard.
Encourage Your Construction Workers to Take Breaks
When construction is underway and the project deadline is quickly approaching, workers might struggle to take regular breaks, but you should encourage them to do so.
Although you might be frowning at this suggestion and thinking that any interruptions to the workflow in addition to the already existing lunch and coffee breaks would also reduce productivity, you should reconsider.
Why? Because different studies show that encouraging workers to take shorter breaks when they need to usually translates into a safer and more productive jobsite.
In other words, construction work is often physically and mentally demanding, and the benefits of taking more frequent short breaks can, as you see below, bring much more than just boosting a construction crew’s morale.
As one contractor commented, it pays to encourage workers to take regular breaks as that can prevent injuries, mistakes, substandard work, or overexertion, so:
When you need a rest, take one. If you’re lifting heavy doors and sheetrock all day, you need all the rest you can. So, isn’t it better to give the worker a little time to rest rather than lose the same person to being sick the following day?
Therefore, encouraging your workers to unwind for a moment will keep their morale up and make your jobsite safer and more productive.
Offer Your Workers a Good Work-Life Balance
Offering workers a good work-life balance (WLB) is a great way to boost employee morale, keep workers happy, and consequently maintain a high employee retention rate.
Although the construction industry has been lagging in its adjustment to the latest WLB trends in other sectors, some companies have already caught on, like Juneau Construction:
Considering the long-standing skilled labor shortage and high competition in the construction industry, the fact that more and more contractors are taking this approach is not surprising.
Especially when we consider that 72% of Americans rate work-life balance as very important when choosing a job, while other surveys show that it’s even, although just slightly, more important than salary and benefits (65% vs. 64%).
Therefore, to boost employee morale and retention rate, construction companies should at least ensure their workers have predictable schedules and, whenever possible, eliminate the need for overtime work.
Provide Your Workers With Opportunities to Grow
Another employee morale and retention booster is providing your workers with opportunities to grow as professionals.
As said, things have changed, and workers, particularly those from younger generations, take a different approach to career development where opportunities for professional (and personal) growth at their job are as important as salary, benefits, and a good work-life balance.
After all, nobody enjoys feeling like their career is going nowhere, which takes a toll on their morale and, by extension, that of their coworkers.
Of course, some construction companies proactively invest in their employees’ career development and growth, like Gilbane.
This approach allows Gilbane to have engaged and motivated workers, while enabling them to promote people within the company and fill any gaps in the construction skills of their workers.
Or, to quote Juneau, who we already mentioned:
We established a strong internal development program that allows our employees to fully understand the requirements they must meet to move to the next stage of their career.
Therefore, providing your workers with opportunities to learn and master new skills will improve their morale, and even more so when that education and training offer them a clear way to advance their careers.
Create an Incentive Program to Reward Your Workers
Our final morale-improving tip is that your construction company should create an incentive program to reward its workers for doing good work.
Of course, it all starts with offering great pay and benefits, including work-life balance and career development opportunities, as the abovementioned Gilbane does.
So, offering great benefits can significantly enhance the satisfaction level and loyalty of your construction workers, and turn out to be the best incentive program in your toolbox.
However, there are countless other ways to boost employee morale, give them something to look forward to, and show them your company’s support and appreciation.
For example, companies can find cash or non-cash incentives for a crew’s spotless safety record or finishing the job ahead of time.
Another example is when managers provide small rewards to employees who meet specific goals (cash bonus, gift certificate, a day off, etc.), motivating others to follow suit.
Overall, creating different incentive programs, as long as workers are clear on how they can achieve the set goals, is one of the best ways to improve the morale of your construction workers.
So, it’s clear that, if you want to improve employee morale, you and your management team should consider one or more of these great tips to see how they could be applied in your construction company regardless of its size and financial strength.
In other words, although some of these tips require money, others require just your time and effort, and all of them will help keep your workers’ morale high, thus enhancing their motivation, quality of work, and efficiency, and your company’s overall productivity and profitability.