The engagement of employees is a massive focus for business leaders. This is no surprise given that engaged workers are more productive, more invested, have greater loyalty and can massively boost the success of your business.
Improving employee engagement often involves creating stronger communication pathways, team building activities which develop employee relationships and constant monitoring to ensure that levels don’t slip. But what if your team is dispersed or field-based?
This is often the case for construction workers. Rarely - if ever - in an office environment and often geographically distanced from management, construction teams are regularly left to their own devices during the working day and have less contact with their employer.
This communication barrier is something which poses the risk of disengagement. Employee engagement is a goal every business continually works towards, but disengagement can live silently among your workforce and, if unnoticed, can cost your business dearly.
The tell-tale signs of disengagement include:
- Reduced productivity - low engagement among staff is estimated to result in a 33% decrease in operating income.
- Weakened communication - disengaged employees are less likely to communicate with their manager and fellow workers.
- Lack of morale - employees with low engagement levels have lower levels of morale and feel undervalued.
- Absenteeism - employees who feel low and of little value at work are more likely to take days off to avoid having to go to work.
- Reduced emotional investment - disengaged employees are often unaware of business goals, strategies and targets for the future.
- Lower quality of work - engaged employees are 38% more likely to produce a larger volume of work which is also of a higher standard.
You might think these are warning signs that can be easily spotted in your construction teams -even if you manage them from a distance. While disengagement levels can be monitored and successfully managed, it's something which can be - and often is - missed.
But the results of disengagement can have serious effects, including costly increases in staff turnover, the risk of losing customers, potential reductions in productivity and demoralized teams. Clearly, this is something which must be addressed.
Engagement in construction: the challenges
For engaged employees to thrive in your workplace there needs to be free and fluid communication between the workforce and senior management. From making sure your construction team is aware of the relevant safety information to being aware of project timelines and specific customer needs, strong communication is the key to invested and engaged employees.
This is a challenge particularly for construction businesses. Although a proportion of the workforce might be in an office environment where it’s easy to ask questions, share information and offer an open door policy, the majority of your team may well be out on site for most of their working week.
Although you might have a mass email or telephone number which anyone is welcome to contact you through, this immediately creates an invisible barrier which limits the effectiveness of your communication.
Experimenting with communication platforms can be beneficial. Whether you try out a new app which has multiple features, such as group chat, instant messaging, calls functions or reassess the way you and your team utilize an existing communication method, finding ways to better your communication can help overcome existing disengagement and reduce the risks of it moving forward.
2. Engagement platforms
In addition to platforms for communication, there are also hundreds of platforms designed specifically for improving employee engagement. Each platform has its own specific features, and many are designed specifically for industries like construction which have field workers as well as office-based staff.
From mobile-based surveys and training platforms to instant messengers, these software solutions provide streamlined solutions which allow workers to share their opinions, ask questions, improve their knowledge and more - all at the touch of a button.
3. Building a cohesive team
It’s not just you as the business leader who needs to improve communication with your construction employees. The way your workforce interacts with one another can go just as far to improve their morale and, as a result, engagement levels.
Taking action to build stronger team relationships can help to avoid the threats of disengagement. From team building activities and days out to a social aspect to comms, ensuring your team are able to know each other on a social level, as well as a professional level, is key to building a cohesive team that works to its full potential.
Knowing how to avoid disengagement in your construction team isn’t as easy as a black and white, clear cut solution. It’s something which needs to be worked on continually. Whether you believe there are signs of disengagement in your construction team or not, it’s still crucial that you take action to ensure your business doesn’t fall victim down the line.
About the Author
Paddy O’Hagen is Customer Success Manager at StaffConnect, a mobile employee app designed to give employees a voice and bridge the gap between deskless and office-based workers. The business is dedicated to helping organisations improve internal communications and increase employee engagement, productivity and profit.