PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog
human-centric construction

Shh… Want to Know the Secret to Successful Construction?  

Why Human-Centric Construction Is Always a Winning Strategy

No, this isn’t a Buzzfeed article that’s going to try to life hack your way through the construction industry. We’re not talking about the secret to losing weight, to finding love, to managing your time effectively or to getting a great deal on your car insurance. We’re talking about the secret to successful construction—and we’re 100% serious about it.

You see, the best construction projects are those that connect to every process, phase and stakeholder. We get that this might seemingly come across as common sense. Obviously, right? But what a lot of construction companies don’t realize is that connecting the project to every process, phase and stakeholder isn’t a key priority. Many companies talk the talk, but cannot walk the walk.

Want to know the secret to connecting the project to every process, phase and stakeholder? It’s easy: Put humans first. 

Yes, humans. As in, your construction company’s employees. Put them first, and your company will be much better off as a result of it. It’s that simple. There’s no magic trick or groundbreaking technology that’s going to win you jobs and build successful projects. It’s all about the people—and creating a more human-centric construction culture within your organization, team and on project sites is only going to benefit your company long-term.

So why is creating this human-first culture so crucial in the construction industry? Let’s explore, below.

Want to Gain a Leading Edge in Construction? Prioritize Your Talent 

Simply put, companies and organizations that put their talent first are usually always the biggest winners. This is especially true in the construction industry, which relies so heavily on building projects efficiently and effectively to meet profit goals. 

To achieve this, you don’t just need great people, but you also need seamless cooperation on your project sites. You need people that are motivated to work productively. You need people that are happy and proud to represent the name that’s on their hard hat–as studies show a happy worker is a much more productive one.

Artificial intelligence, automation and innovation in the field are all great, but they’ll only get you so far if your workers aren’t also a key part of the implementation. It’s the people that are going to make or break your company—and it’s why they should be prioritized above all else.

If you need further proof, consider the following research; studies suggest that a more human-centric, caring workplace ultimately leads to better customer service, enhanced safety and better all-around satisfaction. Furthermore, an SHRM study shows that throughout more than 260 research projects spanning nearly 200 companies, the organizations with engaged, motivated employees outperformed companies with the least engaged employees in the following notable ways:

  • A 22% increase in profitability
  • A 21% increase in productivity
  • Turnover that’s 65% lower
  • Customer ratings at least 10% better
  • A decrease in safety incidents by nearly 50%

The data speaks for itself. While many companies might scoff at the upfront investment necessary to create a more human-centric approach within their organizations, the SHRM study shows that it’s going to pay off in the form of increased profits over time.

How to be Human-Centric Construction Company

So just what defines a human-centric company? Broadly defined, a human-centric company is one that puts their workers’ success above everything else. Fundamental values include transparency, trust, shared value, team autonomy, collaboration and agility.

But at its core, a human-centric approach must be driven by the company. It involves fostering and growing leaders from within the company, empowering employees to feel like they’re trusted, valued and can lead initiatives and teams. Good leaders are involved, never complacent and great communicators.

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about how the construction industry is about to change. You shouldn’t fear this looming change; you should be embracing it. And part of embracing it is knowing that your employees are going to be the ones driving this change. By becoming truly human-centric, you can best position your staff to be the leaders of such change.<

Here’s a look at some other ways you can create a more human-centric construction company:

Value mental wellbeing

Chances are you already have a variety of stringent safety measures in place to protect your workers from physical harm on jobsites, but have you considered the mental wellbeing of your staff? If you haven’t, you should—it’s arguably just as, if not more important than the physical safety aspect. Part of valuing mental wellbeing means placing a greater emphasis on work-life balance.

Equip your staff with the right tools

“It’s too expensive.” “It won’t work for this project.” “I don’t think it’s a good idea.” If these are regular sentences out of leadership’s mouths when workers ask to try a new tool or technology on a project, then it’s time to reexamine how you do things. 

Part of creating a human-centric culture is ensuring that workers are empowered with the right tools to drive operational success. Don’t just give them the tools that are needed to do their jobs, but let them try out new tools that could help them do their jobs better. 

According to a Tinypulse Engagement Report, some 70% of workers say that they struggle to get their work done in a given week.

Make sure you’re equipping your workforce with the tools to streamline operations.

Recognize and reward

 Recognizing and rewarding workers doesn’t just show that you care about them and their successes, but it can also provide a big morale boost and help facilitate a happier overall worker.

How to be Human-Centric at the Team Level

Now that we’ve gone over how to be more human-centric at the company level let’s take a moment to dive into how to do it at the team level. We’ll start with arguably the most critical factor: communication. 

Good communication and collaboration can go a long way toward facilitating a more human-centric construction environment, while the opposite can completely derail it. The good news is that there are a variety of tools and best practices that can be deployed to help proactively avoid conflicts and disputes.

Here’s a look at some other ways to build a human-centric construction culture at the team level:

Build trust

Building trust is essential within a team environment, and it’s often lacking. But don’t just think of trust as between people, but in terms of data as well. This, again, can stress the importance of the right tools and being confident that you’re equipping professionals with the correct information. Make sure you’re building trust, not just between people, but with technology too.

Solicit continuous feedback

Don’t implement a culture and never revisit it. Any human-centric environment should always be changing, adapting and improving. Solicit your team for feedback, see what they need to continue to succeed and make a point to deliver on these requests.

How to be Human-Centric at the Project Level

We’ll cap this piece with a look at how to be human-centric at the project level. Here’s a look at some tips:

Build relationships with all stakeholders

Do you have a poor relationship with any external sources? Make sure that you’re working hard to fix this. Examine the contract model and make sure that it’s set up in a way to build trust and positive relationships. Aside from owners, be sure that you’re working to develop good relationships with sub-contractors too. 

Overall, make sure that there’s mutual respect between all parties, as this is key to fostering a truly collaborative project environment. Also, consider implementing the right system so that everyone can easily coordinate and communicate.

Improve transparency

When all stakeholders on a project have access to the information that they need, they’ll be much more empowered to make better decisions. So make sure all relevant project information is available. Don’t make plans, data and documents an inconvenience to find; present all project information in an easy to access and convenient system. 

Put People Ahead of the Bottom Line

Now that you have the secret answer to improving your business success, it’s time to put it in action. Think about the people before the bottom line. The next time you have to make a difficult decision, stop for a moment and ask yourself, “How will this impact people.” If you’re serious about fostering a human-centric construction organization, you’ll always side with your people.

Further Reading:  Damage Control: 5 Ways to Manage Construction Mistakes

Grace Ellis

As a Content Marketing Manager at PlanGrid, Grace is the managing editor for the PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog. With over eight years of experience in marketing, communications and PR for technology companies, she is specialized in high-quality content creation across both traditional and digital media platforms.

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