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How Can You Improve Construction Workers’ Productivity?

Construction workers in a job site
4 min read
Construction workers in a job site

Enhancing construction workers’ productivity is a key objective for businesses to get more done in less time. In the construction industry, where labor constitutes a substantial portion of both value and project expenses, evaluating labor productivity is paramount.

Begin by identifying the drivers of workplace efficiency before delving into strategies to boost labor productivity effectively.

A McKinsey report sheds light on the challenges of productivity in construction industry. Unlike retail and manufacturing, which have embraced innovation and reinvention, construction remains heavily reliant on manual labor and outdated practices.

It also emphasizes that construction labor productivity has only seen an average annual increase of 1% over the past two decades. This number contrasts sharply with the 3.6% average seen in manufacturing during the same period. Hence, there is a need for construction businesses to have a streamlined approach to evaluating labor productivity. 

For construction firms grappling with productivity issues, exploring alternative solutions is imperative to drive improvements.


Numerous factors occurring on the construction job site can contribute to inefficiencies. Changes in work scope or schedule delays often result in cost overruns. Nearly 98% of megaprojects experiencing cost increases of 30% or higher due to project changes. Nonetheless, the primary driver behind cost overruns remains low productivity. This blog answers the question on how to improve construction workers’ productivity and the factors affecting it. 

Factors Affecting Construction Workers’ Productivity 

Various factors influence productivity in construction jobs. These are outlined by professional associations such as the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA). These factors can vary based on location, association, and project type. Generally, it can be categorized into the following:

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Professional Skills: Factors include education, experience, leadership, discipline, communication, and leveraging data from past projects.

Health: Considerations encompass workload, mental health, fatigue, stress, recovery time, and vacation allowances.

Job satisfaction: This includes aspects such as motivation, compensation, benefits, contract modifications, conflicts resolution, recognition, and advancement opportunities.

Working conditions: Factors include noise levels, duration of shifts, security protocols, weather conditions, and safety hazards.

Project organization: Encompasses site accessibility, logistics, supply chain management, security measures, and commuting considerations.

External factors: These encompass governmental policies, changes in contractors, economic cycles, interruptions during holidays, resource shortages, and seasonal fluctuations.

Understanding and addressing these factors are crucial initial steps toward optimizing construction efficiency and managing labor effectively. 

How To Improve Construction Workers’ Productivity: Best Practices


1. Maintain Real-Time Updates of Construction Inventory

Inventory management encompasses various processes, including material selection, procurement, transportation costs, and storage. Inadequate inventory control often leads to delays.

Relying solely on your construction workers to report shortages of materials or tools is not sufficient. Project managers and supervisors must consistently conduct regular inventory audits. This ensures that essential construction materials, tools, and support are consistently available on-site.

Ensuring you have enough materials on hand to sustain at least a week’s worth of work is a best practice. Neglecting to maintain adequate inventory levels can bring your project to an abrupt standstill, 

Utilize tools for accurate planning and forecasting to ensure that building materials and supplies are replenished before depletion. This approach enhances labor productivity significantly. 

2. Effectively Manage Seasonal Employment
Construction projects often follow a cyclical pattern, requiring employees to work through shifts without breaks or holidays during active phases. Conversely, during project delays or gaps between assignments, reduced work hours and payments may be expected.

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Frequent cutbacks in work hours can lead to high employee turnover, particularly among skilled workers. It may include managers and supervisors too who are essential for project performance. If you use an automated time clock for construction, you can easily gain a comprehensive understanding of working hour patterns in your team. You can even track and calculate scenarios like shift differentials, overtime, and variable pay rates can become intricate. You may require construction job cost tracking, that can give you data on time taken for different tasks as well. 

Skilled workers leaving can lower productivity as new hires adjust, tasks are reassigned, and existing employees face increased strain. Tracking productivity metrics, like work output or labor hours per unit of work, helps gauge turnover’s impact on project efficiency.

To foster employee loyalty, implement a site bonus system that serves as a buffer during project delays. Provide comprehensive education on financial incentives available throughout all project cycles.

Moreover, when project milestones are met successfully, consider offering additional rewards to foster motivation for delivering high-quality work.

3. Manage Overtime Effectively

An initial sign of overwork is sheer exhaustion. Sometimes the impact is as simple as your employees arriving late due to oversleeping– however, it adds up to a significant amount of lost productive hours. Further, there can be a noticeable decrease in energy levels while on the job.

Construction timesheets play a crucial role in tracking working hours and breaks, enabling managers to monitor adherence to shift durations. They streamline billing processes and serve as a preventive measure against excessive overwork and fatigue, common factors contributing to on-site accidents.

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By accurately recording hours worked, breaks taken, and tasks completed, supervisors can identify trends of overtime accumulation. This data allows implementing measures such as workload adjustments, job scheduling optimizations, or hiring additional workforce when necessary. It mitigates the risks associated with overworked laborers and ensures compliance with labor regulations.

Conclusion

In conclusion, effectively managing labor productivity in the construction industry requires a multifaceted approach. You must begin by identifying the various factors that may contribute to a decreased productivity.

Additionally, leveraging technology plays a pivotal role in enhancing labor productivity significantly. By embracing digital solutions for scheduling, and resource management, construction companies can optimize workflows and reduce downtime. 

Further, mobile forms and a timesheet app can improve adherence to schedules, and mitigate risks associated with overwork and fatigue. These practices will ultimately result in higher levels of efficiency and project success. 

You can begin by introducing your team to a field workforce management software with a 14-day free trial. During this time, gauge whether the benefits it brings to your management process and the returns it will yield when adopted.  

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