Getting Your Construction Crew to Work More Efficiently

Published June 10, 2015 by Whirlwind Team

Faster, faster, faster! The world keeps moving faster and yet, in the construction industry, we are still beholden to natural laws of gravity, momentum and velocity. We are vulnerable to Mother Nature's patterns as well as natural disasters or unexpected superstorm-worthy events. Finally, there is the reality of the imperfect human. All in all, the sum of these parts make it a challenge to come up with a realistic project timeline and bid dollar amounts low enough to get the job but high enough that you can complete the job in the black.

The faster you can get your construction crew to work, the better chance you have of coping with the more uncontrollable factors that hinder construction schedules; but how to do that while still maintaining a safe and positive jobsite?

Tips to Make Your Construction Crew & Jobsite More Efficient

Your ability to create an efficient jobsite starts long before ground is broken and continues throughout the duration of the project. Here are some of the most important things to consider.

The project itself. Are you bidding on the right projects? You'll see over and over again that landing public works jobs is the way to go - guaranteed money, regular work, etc. etc. Well, if you can get "in" as a regular general contractor or sub for municipal, state and/or federal works projects - those perks can be true. Equally true: your payments can be severely hindered by a million and one paperwork snafus, inspection red flags and a myriad of situations that are completely out of your control - i.e. your subcontractor's inability to keep/submit accurate time/labor reports. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, "is this job really worth it?

Bidding on jobs for which you are qualified, experienced and/or lack the overwhelming regulations that exist on public works projects can often save you a significant amount of time, money and stress. The more suited the jobs are to your construction niche, the more efficient the project will be from start to finish.

A positive company climate. Happy workers make for more efficient workers. Repeated studies show that the more positive your company climate is, the faster your employees will work. In fact, integraph.com cites any of the following issues will negatively impact employees' ability/desire to work efficiently:

  • Increased interpersonal conflicts
  • Disputes
  • Too much overtime/weekend work
  • Excessive work hazards
  • Poor site conditions
  • Frequent work interruptions or schedule changes
  • Manager absenteeism
  • Disorganized or unkempt jobsites

Review the above list with an open mind. Better yet, pass out anonymous surveys to workers and have them put check marks next to any situations that apply to them while working on your projects. Have them return the sheets to a central box and review their answers. You may find cleaning up your jobsites- physically and energetically - will instantly improve employee morale and efficiency.

Is everyone on the same page? Have you even given them a page to look at? On forconstructionpros.com, George Hedley writes, "We were building a large 95,000-square-foot manufacturing building. The project superintendent, concrete foreman and I were discussing the job schedule...They weren’t sure what the exact move-in date was, nor the contract completion date or what the city required to get a final inspection and certificate of occupancy to get the utilities turned on. A project team without a clear knowledge of the contracted completion date or understanding what’s required to make it happen is a disastrous predicament for a construction company."

That's an understatement. If your crew doesn't have any knowledge of your project timeline, how can you expect to remain on schedule? This ties in to the points above in regards to manager absenteeism and a disorganized jobsite. Created a realistic time frame for what should be done when, communicate it in writing to subcontractors and post the daily and weekly schedules in visible locations so everyone has access to - and can stay on - the same page.

Incentives and bonuses. Humans are hardwired to perform better when a reward is on the horizon. You'd be amazed what a low-dollar gift card for coffee or the local hardware store, a new cell phone case or a trendy electronic gadget can do to motivate a construction crew.

The first step is to have a brief meeting explaining just how hard it is to make a profit in this business. Many workers simply assume the boss(es) and company owner(s) are loaded and are living rich off the cream. A few simple PowerPoint slides showing cost/profit ratios from previous projects will immediately highlight how slim these margins really are. Then, brainstorm perfect punch-list challenges, team competitions and other games that will get the juices flowing constructively.


How has your company worked to inspire employee efficiency and speed? We would love to hear your ideas in the comment box below.

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