Insights / blog

February 26, 2021

7 Tips on How to Improve Labour Productivity in the Construction Industry

Low levels of labour productivity can result in low profits. As the construction industry can be extremely profitable, you don’t want to hinder this with projects running past their intended completion date. Employees are highly responsible for achieving organizational goals in this industry, and managers may think that when labour productivity is low and goals are not being achieved, this is their fault. This is not always the case, and understanding how to improve labour productivity from a managerial and operational perspective is very important. 

  1. Take Time to Understand Why Your Employees Are Being Unproductive

Don’t rush to solely blame your employees for low labour productivity. It’s easy to assume that this is because they’re being lazy or late to work. However, the majority of the time your staff will be extremely hard-working and external factors are probably affecting productivity. Consider the time it takes for machinery or equipment to arrive, if they are not already at site, or waiting for the right person to be present to fix an equipment failure. Take a look at the unproductive time and conduct an activity analysis, which will allow you to understand why productivity is low and put procedures in place to eliminate inefficiencies.

2. Recognize Productivity Champions 

Now, for the employees who aren’t as hard working, motivation could be impacting their productivity. Keeping employees motivated can be difficult in any industry. Within construction this can be extremely difficult as employees can be working at various different locations and in varying conditions. One way to combat this is by setting goals with associated incentives. Think SMART when setting goals and be realistic with incentives, as you don’t want them to have negative consequences. Employees rushing to finish work quickly in order to receive a better reward will be detrimental, as mistakes could be made in the process. 

3. Manage Overtime Properly

Initially, you would think that offering more overtime would increase productivity and get the job done quicker. This could work in some instances, however it can also result in accidents and mistakes happening, which can cause delays. Employees could become tired from working too many hours, making them less productive. Effective planning of work orders should mean that overtime hours can be reduced, also reducing the likelihood of burnout.

4. Implement a Digital Platform 

The digitalization of the construction industry is resulting in many different benefits, from enhanced client communications to cost savings. In terms of increasing labour productivity, implementing a digital platform such as a Computerized Maintenance Management System can aid this. Through a CMMS you can manage work orders and employees’ skills and time, ensuring the employee only works on projects they are properly trained for, at the time when they are needed. This means you can spread an employee’s time across different construction sites and projects, increasing both their, and the organization’s, day-to-day productivity.  

5. Set Realistic Goals

Employees must be able to achieve their targets, as setting unrealistic goals can have negative impacts. This can make workers rush and in this time mistakes can happen, resulting in delays in work completion. Setting smaller, more achievable, daily or weekly goals for each employee, will ensure they understand the process completely and will also make them personally accountable. Accountability will coincide with performance-based incentives and increase productivity and confidence amongst employees. 

6. Complete an Activity Analysis 

Take time to visit each site where labour productivity levels are low and monitor the activities that are taking place. You can then make improvements for your workforce. For example, if workers are spending increasing amounts of time waiting for equipment or materials to arrive, planning employee schedules around the arrival of equipment will increase productivity levels in that area. Completing an activity analysis could also reveal problems with individual employees. This is uncommon, but on the off chance it does happen, you will be able to support this employee and combat issues that are resulting in lower productivity. 

7. Ensure Effective Communication Takes Place 

Manager and employee communications are extremely important in terms of increasing or decreasing labour productivity. If managers improperly communicate tasks or instructions to workers, mistakes can happen which can hinder project completion and impact productivity and profit. Employees also need to understand how to effectively communicate with management to be able to properly explain problems that have occurred, or why they cannot complete a task. This will also alleviate managers’ worries that low productivity is at the fault of the employee. 

Why Care About Labour Productivity?

You care about profitability, right? Well, productivity and profitability should coincide, as a productive workforce should be a profitable workforce. Taking time to understand why labour productivity is low will highlight pain points within the organization and allow effective solutions to be made, making it easier to reach your overall objectives and goals. 

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