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Employee Success…Engagement

When people are asked to picture construction employees, what often comes to mind are hardworking, clock-in and clock-out, push-through-the-day professionals. Their level of dedication to and passion for their work are not typically considered.

However, a recent report by Quantum Workplace, “Engaging AEC Employees,” found nearly 73 percent of construction professionals identified as engaged—almost 7 percent more than the national average. As it turns out, the majority of construction employees have strong mental and emotional connections with their workplaces.

Employee engagement is a phrase frequently thrown around in the professional world, stemming from a variety of influencing factors. This, in turn, positively affects a company’s profitability, revenue, client experience, turnover rate, talent acquisition, employer brand and even workplace safety.

Although a high level of engagement should be celebrated, construction industry leaders also must proactively address threats, including the rapid shrinkage in the number of skilled workers, the overhaul of contract and building processes, and workers’ changing expectations.

The good news is that these obstacles are surmountable if construction leaders understand exactly what motivates their teams.

Following are three drivers of employee engagement in construction that need to be put into practice.

Build and Develop Trust

From how projects are structured to how work is executed and projects are paid for, the construction industry is constantly changing right in front of employees’ eyes.

Many high-risk situations, including changes in contract scope that put employees out of work and unpredictable outcomes of bidding wars, make it crucial for employees to trust that leaders are effectively planning for their future.

According to the Quantum Workplace report, the number one driver of employee engagement for construction workers is “trusting senior leaders to lead the company to future success.” No matter what changes the company encounters, leaders need to regularly reassure team members that the company’s future is strong and that they have a clear place in it.

To build this trust, leaders must understand what future success means to their team. Ask each employee to write down where they see the company in one, three and five years. Encourage them to dig deep, be honest about where they see room for improvement, and offer suggestions for making that happen.

Next, brainstorm goals and the steps to reach them as a team. The more active employees are in planning for the company’s future, the easier it will be for them to envision their own success in the company. Be sure to revisit this process as the industry and company evolves.

Know the Team’s Strengths

Strong, sturdy and resilient are great strengths for any employee, but barely graze the surface of skills and qualities found among construction professionals. These men and women are brimming with talent, and leaders who make the most of their skills will see the most engaged workforce.

In fact, construction employees ranked “my job allows me to use my strengths” as the number two driver of employee engagement.

However, employers are seeing a rapid shrinkage in skilled workers, which means efficiently putting those strengths to good use and helping employees develop new skills is more critical than ever.

Encourage foremen, supervisors and managers to start taking note of employees’ specific skills.

Have them sit down in a one-on-one setting to discuss their observations and see how they align with what employees feel their personal strengths are. Then, determine if there are any other skills employees would like to put to use or brush up on.

Once everyone is on the same page, it’s time to get to work. Make a strategic plan based on how employees can use these skills now and identify what the company can do to help them continue to grow from their strengths and weaknesses.

As employees put their newly developed skills to use, the need to hire from the shrinking talent pool will become less urgent and current employees will become more dedicated and engaged.

Rise to Meet Employee Expectations

To meet employees’ changing expectations, leaders need to be in tune with their team and understand exactly what they need to succeed.

Building a team of highly engaged construction employees can only be accomplished if leaders truly listen to employees and show them how much they’re valued by the entire company.

In fact, the final driver of employee engagement, according to the Quantum Workplace report, is “when senior leaders value employees as their most important resource.”

Because expectations are different for each person and change over time, constant communication is key.

Give employees the opportunity to speak in one-on-one sessions about their wants and needs in the workplace. Focus on what makes each employee feel like an essential part of the team. Then, let them know leaders are listening and value their opinion by offering solutions for helping them meet their true potential.

Employees who feel heard, who have input in the business and who know they’re part of building the company’s future will remain motivated and passionate about their careers.

Written by Dan Harris – Workplace Insights Analyst, Quantum Workplace