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How to improve productivity in your construction company

Construction worker on site with a clip board and on the phone, while another employee is working in the background.

As with many industries, construction has been one of those hit by the global pandemic and output has fallen. But the sector has, for some time, been known for its inefficiencies when it comes to productivity.  We look at some of the reasons for this, as well as what can be done to help improve productivity within construction companies. 

Productivity challenges

A global pandemic has meant that for many construction companies work has been cancelled or delayed, for reasons including COVID health and safety measures, a reduced workforce from shielding or isolating and a lack of supplies due to disruptions in supply chains. However many construction companies are beginning to bounce back and feel more positive about the future. While this is encouraging, there are still certain challenges that exist for the sector, from adopting digital advancements to gaining new recruits to fill existing skills gaps.

Productivity in construction is based on maximising the efficiency of the production inputs to produce the required output. Therefore delays in receiving materials, bad weather or an onsite accident can all cause a delay on a project and cause inefficiencies. Importing materials has become more expensive, and delays causing projects to overrun are also adding to cost inefficiencies. For these reasons and more, low productivity levels in construction need to be addressed to help companies get the best returns on their investments.

Increasing productivity

Construction companies can start to make improvements in their productivity rates by considering the following:

Embrace technological advancements: A lack of investment in technology can slow down construction projects and mean productivity is lower than what it could be. Using software and mobile apps allows for progress to be tracked more easily, smoother processes and real-time data collection. For example, Project Management Software can help with storing data, stock management, scheduling, budgeting and team collaboration. Keeping track of all these details in one central location not only saves time but keeps accurate records of information. 

Improve communication and planning: A lack of communication is a common cause of inefficiency in a construction company. Ineffective communication between the office and job site can cause delays and errors. Ensuring your workers understand the importance of communicating and meeting deadlines will help instill a culture where productivity is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. This is where technology can have a huge benefit, as mobile apps can instantly update workers with key information. 

Collecting data from projects will also help companies gain insights when it comes to productivity. This will allow for improved processes and more accurate budgeting and timescales. Allowing the team to understand the workflow before a project starts will help keep them on track, and the use of data will mean project forecasts are more accurate to achieve greater job efficiencies.  

Focus on safety & training: According to the HSE, the construction industry incurred the greatest number of fatal injuries in 2020/21. Therefore it’s vital that construction sites put safety first and ensure employees receive the correct training for their role to minimise the risk of injuries and fatalities. Having a well trained workforce will help your employees feel more confident when it comes to working onsite and will have a positive effect on their productivity. 

eLearning courses can be particularly useful for a range of topics from working at height to asbestos awareness training. eLearning is cost effective, and allows workers to fit training in at a convenient time. On the job training can also be valuable to help workers gain a deeper understanding of a particular specialism.  

Improve your workplace culture: A company’s culture cannot be changed overnight, but working to improve it can ensure your employees are more motivated and productive. Gradually communicating messages about the importance of taking regular breaks, minimising overtime and working to increase productivity will help employees feel more satisfied and valued in their roles. Investing in training to keep them safe or knowledgable about new innovative technology will help keep them engaged and their performance at its highest. 

Recruit more skilled workers: It is known that there is a lack of skilled workers in the construction industry but attracting talent to your organisation is key to having the best team and chance of business success. Digital advancements are also causing a skills gap and therefore recruiting experienced managers to lead your team and support with any new technologies will be vital to help improve efficiency and productivity. If you are looking for some tips on recruitment and retention in construction download our free guide, created in partnership with Citation, here.

There are other factors which can help improve productivity in construction but starting to take some steps to improve productivity will pay off, whether this is through increased employee morale, quicker completion of projects, better profit margins or even winning more bids.

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