How to create a positive construction site environment
Construction sites are intrinsically stressful places to work with a stockpile of daily deadlines and all kinds of skilled and unskilled workers to mastermind through onsite issues and weather delays.
The larger the project the bigger the jigsaw puzzle of people and personalities and the harder it becomes to make sure every unit gels individually and collectively. Happy workers work harder, so here are a few tried and true ways to build a more positive and profitable site environment.
Finesse your facilities
Nobody expects you to provide all the amenities of home, but any site with a few creature comforts will be a happier, more comfortable place to work. Make sure all your site workers have easy access to (regularly cleaned) toilets, as well as washing facilities and drinking water. Keep changing and locker rooms orderly and encourage your workers to do the same. A happy site is a tidy site.
Train and re-train
With ever-evolving roles and personnel, make sure all workers are suitably qualified for their specific job. Continuously check that their training is up to speed. Not only could this save you some sticky legal moments, an ongoing proactive program of training makes workers feel like they're working for a switched on and responsible company.
Manage with humility and humour
Yes, construction workers are supposed to be tough. But they're still people with concerns and personal crises to deal with. Create an 'Open Door' environment where managers are accessible and workers feel they can express issues without fear of reprisals or humiliation. Empower your workers by showing you care about minds more than machinery.
Construction sites fall behind schedule; it's a fact of life. But if you only show your face when things go wrong, you set a tone of negativity. Call regular meetings to congratulate staff when things go right or you've met a deadline. A good job praised today is a desire to do the same good job tomorrow.
Be obsessed with safety
Be annoying about it (in a nice way) and consistently vehement in your need for workers to wear all requisite safety gear all the time, not some of it. If they're blasé about their own welfare, make it about their families and friends, but make it personal. Chances are they don't care if you get sued or fined, your welfare is unlikely to be a motivation. Theirs or the welfare of someone dear to them probably is.
Don't move the goal posts
Make sure every single worker on your site has a clear objective for every single shift. Keep it simple, but make it important. Even unskilled labourers pushing wheelbarrows of dirt all day will relate to their job better if they know what that hole in the ground is going to be.
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