How To Increase Employee Engagement In Your Construction Organisation
It’s been a year of change for the UK construction industry, with the Brexit vote introducing considerable uncertainty into the construction landscape. The long-term ramifications of leaving the EU are unclear at this stage and will no doubt vary from business to business, but what is clear is that every construction manager will need to attract and retain top-quality staff in the years ahead, particularly if the skills shortage deepens.
This means that with the end of the year looming, it’s a crucial time to examine your current team, assess how engaged they are, and consider some strategies to improve your employee engagement levels going into 2017.
If you’ve struggled this year with retaining your staff or creating a positive culture that attracts high-performing candidates, the first step is to assess whether you’re committing any of the ‘seven deadly sins’ that often have your best employees scanning the job ads and planning their exit—and probably straight into the arms of your competition!
7 Common employee engagement-killers
1. A lack of challenge in their role. No job is interesting 100% of the time, but if you have quality employees spinning their wheels with dull and repetitive tasks, you are almost guaranteeing they will eventually walk out the door.
2. Over-burdening and under-rewarding your star players. It is all too easy to take your high-performers for granted over time, but this erodes their loyalty and makes them prime candidates to be headhunted.
3. Poor leadership. As the saying goes, ‘people leave managers, not companies’.
4. Too much bureaucracy. The construction industry tends to have a lot of red tape due to safety and building regulations, yet some organisations frustrate their employees even further by adding an extra layer of bureaucracy.
5. Absence of career development. A workplace that doesn’t encourage career planning or develop its employee’s risks losing them to greener pastures, particularly in a rapidly-evolving industry such as construction.
6. Not giving them a voice. ‘Silencing’ your team members by not giving them an outlet to suggest, query or object in the workplace will only foster resentment and disloyalty.
7. Hiring or promoting poor-quality staff. It is demoralising for hard-working employees to see weak hires taken on or even promoted.
All of these common triggers work to erode the loyalty, satisfaction, and engagement of your team members. Luckily, there are calculated, proven strategies you can put in place to quickly turn your team around.
How to build engagement in your construction team
1. Start at the top. Conduct exit interviews and an anonymous survey within your organisation to establish whether your employees feel well-supported by management. This process may return some unpleasant results either for you personally as a manager or for the company culture as a whole, but you cannot fix the problem if you don’t face it first.
2. Schedule one-on-one meetings with each member of the team. Ask seeking questions about the employee’s career goals over the next one, five years and 10 years, and facilitate any development possible to help them achieve these outcomes. Also use this meeting to ask them what they would need to be more engaged in their jobs, and consider flexible work arrangements as a sweetener for those who seek them.
3. Reward, thank, publicly praise, and don’t overburden. A satisfied high-achiever can become a dissatisfied low achiever remarkably quickly if they feel that their hard work is not sufficiently recognised, or they perceive that they are being loaded down with much more work than those on the same pay-grade. Create incentives to keep powering their achievement, always say thank you, and consider the fairness of your task allocation.
4. Assess and overhaul your systems and procedures. The aim is to remove any possible red tape or obstacles to your team working efficiently. This may be a new project management software or it might be something as simple as removing a redundant approvals process that frustrates your team.
5. Bring your valued team members in on the hiring process. Nothing de-motivates a team faster than seeing a weak member promoted or a new hire come in without the adequate skills or attitude. Put as much personal effort as you can into the recruitment process, get a brilliant recruiter on the case, and invite your star performers into the interview room to get their opinion on candidates.
6. Be transparent and share important information. Employees feel they are valued when you bring them in on important conversations and projects, so share key information when you can to build two-way trust.
7. Come out of your office and lead the charge. If you want to build engagement in your team, you must lead from the front. This means that you must be visible, accessible, approachable, authentic—and thoroughly engaged yourself.
Building engagement can happen very quickly, but it cannot happen without significant effort on your part. The rewards, however, are very much worth it- for both you and your team.