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Effective management of the construction workforce helps finish projects on time and within the stipulated budget. It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of construction projects fail to reach the handover phase within the estimated budget, and labor inefficiencies at the construction site play a significant role in this regard.

The cost of the construction workforce is estimated to be nearly 40% of the total project cost. Therefore, proper construction workforce management should be one of the priorities for project managers to keep the project on track and have a successful and profitable construction project.

A project manager should know that the construction workforce is the most valuable asset of the company as it plays a crucial role throughout the execution phase of a project. A successful workforce management would not only increase productivity but also make workers feel content and valued.

One may not be able to manage the construction workforce effectively unless good collaboration and communication are established, laborers are motivated, on-site disputes are correctly settled, health and safety of workers are ensured, etc. Finally, it should be recognized that technological tools can facilitate better workforce management and save time and costs.  

How to Manage Construction Workers Effectively?

1. Collaboration and Communication

Generally, various specialized sub-contractors are involved in construction works. Collaboration and good communication between them would significantly impact the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the project.

If seamless communication between different groups of workers is maintained, then errors can be detected and corrected quickly and easily, consequently preventing a domino effect and project delays as a whole.

Collaboration and Communication

2. Workday Optimization

Proper time management is one of the pillars for successful management of the construction workforce. Sometimes, workers have to wait for a long time before starting their work, which slows down the entire project’s pace and increases construction cost. The establishment of a good time management system would contribute substantially to increasing the productivity of the workers.

Site preparation, delivering required materials on time, planning workdays, and travel time are different areas with scope for improvement in time management. Set and stick to timelines, organize workflow, procure materials in advance, but leave room for any unexpected scenarios.

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If labor accommodation is built on or close to the construction site, it improves labor productivity immensely. The laborers can begin the work on time and even work for extra hours.

Sometimes, construction materials arrive at night, so laborers on-site can unload the materials, which would help keep the entire project on track and ensure that the next day’s activities begin on time.

Also, if workers are reluctant to work overtime, especially at night, the project manager should motivate them by granting additional working hours. This strategy has been used in many construction sites and has paid off well.

Optimization of Workday

3. Application of Technological Means for Management

Construction work needs long and tedious hours of administrative work apart from managing a large number of workers on the construction site. Daily reports, estimates, billing, and code inspection documents are examples of numerous documents that need to be completed on time.

The use of proper computer programs and digitalizing these documents can save a tremendous amount of time and energy, reduce errors, and decrease costs.

4. Data Collection and Analysis

The collection of construction workforce data and analyzing performance would help project managers improve and increase productivity.

5. Motivate Labors

If a project manager can motivate the construction workforce, he/she can get the most out of them, and the workforce would also offer their best work. In nearly all situations, workers can develop acceptable excuses for not doing their work on time. Therefore, motivating them every now and then could be the best strategy to bring out the best in the workers.

The first step towards motivating the construction workforce is to get acquainted with the workers. People have different goals, life experiences, needs, beliefs, backgrounds, and expectations. So, the project manager should realize that workers do not think the same way as him/her.

For instance, some workers seek personal growth; hence money would be the top priority for them. This group may be prepared to work for extra hours. Others value their friends and family and would like to be around them, so they would not prefer indulging in additional works.

So, it is the project manager’s job to understand the ambitions of workers and help them achieve their goals to get the optimum efficiency at work. Occasionally, the motivation lacks from the side of the project manager and not the workers. In other words, the project manager could demotivate the workers through misbehavior and incorrect decisions. Once this is realized, the manager can motivate workers efficiently and get the best out of them.

Workers can be motivated for personal reasons, not for the project manager’s vision, goal, and work quality. Workers would not follow the project manager’s instructions when there are confusions, no integrity, lack of trust, no accountability, and no consequences.

However, happy and well-paid workers would perform exceptionally well. Happiness comes from motivation, and one can motivate laborers with inspirational leadership, clear communication, and step-by-step guidance. So, provide clear expectations and make sure your worker knows what to do and what should be achieved within a specific time frame.

Another way to motivate the workforce is through the provision of regular recognition, rewards, and praise. If workers know that they are applauded for their efforts and rewarded, they will offer their best. Finally, the construction workers should feel that their health, personal goals, future, and personal development are being taken care of.

How to Motivate Construction Workforce

6. Manage On-site Disputes

The construction site disputes should be appropriately managed; otherwise, workers would lose motivation, proper communication would be lost, and the project site would be in poor condition.

The project manager should realize that construction staff are his/her most valuable asset. So, he/she should be approachable, easy to talk to, and actively listen to the workers having any concerns or suggestions.

Moreover, the project manager should have the ability to diffuse stressful situations on the construction site by providing help and assurance that the team can execute their job correctly. Furthermore, a project manager should be a leader rather than a boss.

A leader would train their staff and equip them with new knowledge and skills. Finally, if a project manager fails to diffuse disputes on the construction site, he/she may have to seek changes in the construction contract due to work disruption.

7. Recruit Qualified Workers

Recruit workers who can carry out the work properly to make sure the construction works are executed by following the required standards. Recruiting qualified workers would also save time and money.

8. Address Underperformance Issues

The project manager should solve underperformance issues as soon as possible. The first step toward the solution is determining the cause of the problems.

Your staff may feel stressed, overworked, unmotivated, and frustrated with the lack of resources for executing the work under consideration. Eliminate the cause of the problem to eradicate issues of underperformance.

9. Health of Workers

Scheduling should consider reasonable working hours for laborers. Underperformance will arise if workers are fatigued. Besides, overworking without adequate rest leads to reduced cognitive abilities and production rate.

Health of Workers

10. Manage Manpower Properly

When new workers join a project, familiarize them with the plans, and communicate the project timeline. Make room for adjustment of new workers because new individuals will not be able to perform up to the standard in the beginning.  

One should be aware that adding a new member to an existing team may disrupt the teamwork. So, new members should be introduced to the team members and ensure they can do their job.

Furthermore, having a greater number of workers than required causes problems since over-staffing causes disruptions and demotivation, and may increase absenteeism. Finally, one should be aware that over-staffing does not get the job done quickly.

11. Improve Workplace Safety

Construction works, which involve the use of heavy machines, working at dangerous heights, and handling hazardous materials, pose substantial danger to workers’ lives.

According to the occupational safety and health administration (OSHA), 4674 workers lost their lives in 2017 on construction sites. Therefore, the safety of the workplace should be one of the top priorities of the project manager.

Nonetheless, it should be known that workers should cooperate on the construction site by practicing safety measures. It is reported that laborers are more likely to stay with a company that emphasizes their safety. The project manager can establish an effective safety plan with the cooperation of frontline workers.

Nowadays, COVID-19 has spread worldwide and affected all aspects of lives, and construction site is not an exception. The OSHA has published guidelines on how to prepare worksite properly to limit the spread of COVID-19 among workers.

Finally, a productive workforce can be created if reasonable efforts are made to encourage trust, openness, and workplace safety on the part of the project manager.

Construction Safety

12. Handle Logistics Properly

Establish standards for delivery and handling of materials; otherwise, the construction site’s workflow would be disrupted and delayed. Failure to deliver construction materials to the project site would make workers wait for a long time before starting their work.

This causes frustration among workers and delay in construction work. Therefore, it is the project manager’s responsibility to deliver the right quantity of materials at the right time to the construction site.

FAQs

What is construction workforce management?

It is the process of optimizing the productivity of construction workers to make sure that all resources and materials are in the right place at the right time. It also ensures that construction labor with the right skills are available when needed.

What are the goals of proper management of construction workforce?

The purpose of construction workforce management is to improve productivity, decrease errors, and make sure that the project is on track and completed within the specified budget and time frame.

What are the strategies used for construction workforce management?

1. Collaboration and communication
2. Motivation of construction workforce
3. Handle logistics properly
4. Improve workplace safety
5. Care about the health of the workers
6. Manage manpower properly
7. Manage on-site disputes wisely
8. Optimize workday
9. Use of technological programs to facilitate management
10. Collect and analyze data
11. Recruit laborers with the right skills.
12. Address underperformance issues

Read More:

Workforce Motivational Theories in Construction

Telematics: A Unique Fleet Management Solution for Construction Sector

Why is Plan Cost Management Necessary? [PDF]

Madeh Izat Hamakareem

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