7 ways to make your trades more productive

Attracting and keeping the right people on board is getting more and more difficult for construction companies. Everyone has heard that the baby boomers are retiring and that millennials are choosing different career paths than skilled trades. 

Well, my experience gave me a unique perspective on that subject. I dropped out of graduate business school to pursue a vocational training in carpentry. I’m a millennial, I have over 10 years of experience in construction and some ideas on how to increase productivity on construction sites. 

Here are 7 ideas to help construction companies attract workers, increase their profit and build better quality building: 

  1. Keep your workers: If you have a construction company you need to have a maximum of tradespeople working directly for you. That means, you keep the same core group of workers from job to job. Theses workers are in direct contact with your product, the building, and represent your company. If you have a new group of workers on every job, you have to show them your company culture every time.
  2. Clean and organize your work site: The best workers leave their workplace in a better way that they found it. Cleanup doesn’t have to take long and should be done throughout the day at the same time than the work is taking place. Labourer shouldn’t be the only one cleaning, electrician, plumbers and carpenters need to clean too. A clean jobsite is a safe jobsite and, if everyone participate it will happen much faster and stay that way. When things are brought back where they belong, and garbage is taken out, workers can find what they need much faster. No one need to be aimlessly wandering around in search of the elusive piece of steel.
  3. Empower your crews: The construction workers are the ones that see everything happening in the field, that’s where construction happen, if you want to have the right information, you need to ask the right people, the tradespeople. That’s an extra reason to keep your workers, to build a relationship, in which, the company can have feedback from the ground. They see material, safety and tools issues.
  4. Supply good facilities: Outside construction work can be very rewarding when it’s a beautiful sunny day but, when the weather turn, it can be miserable as hell. Having an enclosed, controlled environment is the best scenario and some companies are working toward that goal. However, most jobsite don’t have that luxury yet so, at a minimum, a sheltered place for breaks and lunches, toilets, and storage room, all makes a big difference when the elements are against you.
  5. Pay good wages: You get what you pay for in life, the same goes for construction workers. We spend most of our lives in buildings that surround us, the last thing we need is them failing early because of poor craftmanship. As an added benefit, if you pay top dollars you can expect top results, make sure you keep your workers accountable for that.
  6. Ongoing training: Acquiring new knowledge is like physical exercise for the body, the moment you stop is the moment you start regressing. Construction is such a wide field that the information you can learn about it is unlimited. On top of the obvious safety stuff, new materials, tools and techniques are all very useful knowledge for tradespeople.
  7. Merging trades boundaries: Ironworkers are now assembling wood components structures and carpenters are building steel formworks. With new materials and technologies coming to construction sites it’s increasingly difficult to see distinct trades separation. Having versatile tradespeople is a huge asset for construction companies and a guarantee of long-term employment for workers.

I acknowledge that labour regulations and unions, in some jurisdictions, might prevent company to explore the full extend of some of theses ideas. But, even one or two implemented the right way can help companies in improving workers retention, profitability and quality.

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