Alex Kaitsis says motivation is the solution to construction’s productivity problem
Construction struggles to retain high rates of productivity. The complex nature of the industry leads to difficulties in defining the problem and in providing solutions. Variables include fragmentation, low profit margins, the supply of skilled labour and environmental issues.
Economists argue that a productivity rise could come from better workforce motivation. Here are four areas that could be addressed.
Wages. There is a strong connection between productivity and salary, but it is not enough just to increase salaries as this would have a negative impact in the economy. Sustainable improvement in productivity comes when it generates noninflationary increases in wages, which means that the money added to the economy must be the result of production.
Training. There is a link between performance and training. A well-educated workforce improves performance within a construction project in various ways.
“Job satisfaction and high motivation are associated with performance at work”
If organisational performance is improved by arranging responsibilities to skilled people, the added value will be recognised, and the company will pay more. This will have a positive effect in the productivity cycle.
Also, if training is responsible for raising skill levels, then those receiving it should be valued more. To achieve the highest possible results, companies should not only invest in the education of their labour department, but also in the improvement of managerial staff.
Talent management. The UK sector has a shortage of skilled workers. The industry should take steps in developing existing professionals as well as attracting new ones. Meanwhile, the age profile is rising. This will contribute to even bigger shortages. Construction should invest heavily in attracting new entrants by creating more apprenticeships and graduate jobs.
Job satisfaction. Job satisfaction and high motivation are associated with performance at work. Studies have argued that the use of flexible working hours is significantly linked with employee productivity. Also, autonomy led to more productive periods.
Finally, the creation of a safe environment and a culture for avoiding accidents, not only contributes to job satisfaction and motivation, but also eliminates the loss of skilled labour.
By giving greater attention to the variable of people, it would be possible for firms, and by extension economies, to create an environment where increased construction productivity could happen in a sustainable way.
Alex Kaitsis is a senior project manager at Faithful+Gould.