Bam Construct, Bam Nuttall, Skanska and Willmott Dixon have joined forces to undertake a pilot looking at how best to allow the 13,400 people they collectively employ to work flexibly.
The new initiative is being steered by Build UK and led by flexible working consultants Timewise.
It comes in response to research conducted by Timewise that claims that less than 5% of adverts for frontline construction jobs contain any reference to flexible working options when advertised, 10 percentage points short of the UK cross-industry average.
The project will focus on frontline, on-site jobs that typically aren’t seen as roles that can be performed flexibly, and will examine how to design roles with flexibility built in.
Insights from the programme will then be shared to help meet a range of industry goals such as how to improve overall wellbeing and mental health, tackle "long-hours" culture, attract a more diverse talent pool including more women, and retain more men, particularly in later life.
The contractors will trial new ways of structuring and managing shifts before undertaking a 12-16 month guided programme including workshops, training sessions, mentoring and consultancy support led by Timewise to help introduce better flexible working.
Harvey Francis, Skanska executive vice president said: “We are delighted to be part of this flexible working pilot. For too long our industry has struggled with how working patterns outside of the traditional norm can be accommodated. This hasn’t helped us in our desire to attract and retain a greater diversity of people, which we believe is critical to our long-term sustainability and success.”
Andrea Singh, executive director of BAM Construct UK, added: “It has long been thought that making flexibility work on site is just too complicated. Our industry, however, has many creative teams and individuals who can solve the most challenging problems. Together we can, and will, find a solution.”
“People are increasingly looking for flexible work so they can balance their home and work life for a variety of reasons. There’s huge benefits to be gained for people who need this flexibility in an industry which is facing severe skills shortages.
“Our construction industry makes a positive difference to so many lives. As a leading contractor BAM believes the industry must provide more flexible working arrangements to attract and retain high quality, diverse talent to deliver the fantastic projects we are so proud of.”
Clare Williams, head of people operations at Willmott Dixon said: “At Willmott Dixon we always put people at the heart of what we do. We believe that helping our people to achieve a balance between their working life and personal life is central to their wellbeing. We’ve already made great strides in our journey to embed agile working and our people are telling us that they are more supported to work agilely now than ever before, but by working together with Build UK and Timewise we hope to be able to build on this and see a real step change in our industry.”