What makes a construction company, or any company at that, successful? Indeed, various elements are at play, from effective management to superior customer service to hiring top-level talents. While the business strategies and client’s backgrounds may differ, top construction companies have one variable in common: they make investments in their employees. In the construction industry, where growth is at full speed every minute, it is easy to get behind in the race or have excellent skillsets and talents. To stay ahead of your competition, you must incorporate learning and training at the priority list of your company’s objectives.
Why is continuous development a vital role in the growth of construction companies in our world today? Is continuous training the answer to more effective and productive construction teams? If you already have the training curriculum for employee development, why are they failing? We will answer these questions below as we dive deeper into the importance of constant learning in the construction field.
Why is Lack of Training Draining to Employees?
Small contracting and design-build companies don’t have formal training programs. Stop and look back on the old method of distributing information and files versus today’s high-speed computers, mobile devices, the cloud, and new construction tools. In today’s high-tech and growing business environment, employees need to learn and improve by at least 50 percent every four years to stay in the competition. Maybe your company is “too busy to train” because you expect employees to learn by doing the trial and error method, but this is no longer effective.
Employees want to make meaningful contributions on the job and to the company they work for. They want to be recognized and appreciated for their efforts. They need formal training to keep up and additional learnings to excel. If they don’t get the support and tools they need, they won’t accept responsibility for the productivity and quality of the work they do.
Why Are Learning Programs and Training Important in the Construction Scene?
COVID-19 has impacted how all of our work, and the construction industry is not an exception. Digitization and incorporating cloud innovation are more vital than ever in providing employees with efficient and effective ways to do their job roles. For construction companies, this reality means adopting new technologies, such as AI and workflow automation. While some are scared of job loss, these innovations don’t necessarily mean traditional construction jobs will disappear. Rather, they reveal fresh opportunities to work smarter and better.
Now it brings us to the question: are construction companies ready for the digital shift? Learning and training opportunities can help companies prepare for the looming influx of new tools in the construction world. As a response to the global pandemic, we’ve seen the industry put a greater emphasis on gearing for the future and building fresh skills.
Is Learning the Solution to the Workforce Problem on Construction?
In general, continuous learning means acquiring new skillsets and honing existing ones through more advanced education. While construction employees can look for more opportunities to learn outside of work, the most influential companies provide those opportunities to their employees through workshops, programs, courses, etc. Advance learning programs are just as beneficial for the company as they are for the individual.
Research reveals that learning programs must be integrated into the long-term company strategy in the construction industry. To produce positive outcomes, the workforce must stay up-to-date on construction technology advancements. Professional learning programs allow employees to learn new skills proactively and practice them in the actual work. Without such a program, companies risk losing clients due to skilled workers shortages and operating in a reactive approach to market demands.
Professional learning programs are still relatively new in the construction industry. The fast-paced nature of the industry and tight project timelines can lead to development opportunities being put on hold. If anything, the pandemic has revealed how critical is resiliency and the ability to pivot quickly to unprecedented changes.
What Should Be Included in Your Company’s Learning Program?
So, what topics should be included in your learning program? Focus on building up the six areas as you set up your training curriculum:
A highlight on technology likely comes as no surprise at all. The construction world may not be full of tech-savvy professionals, but there has been a significant push toward technological innovation in the last few years. As you develop the technology aspect of your program, be sure to include the following:
- 3D Printing
- Collaborative tools and platforms
- • Virtual and Augmented Reality
- Artificial Intelligence
- Building Information Modeling (BIM)
It’s vital to teach employees how to use these tools on the job and how to incorporate them into new and existing processes.
We tend to think of leadership skills as something we’re born with. Nevertheless, everyone can learn the skills needed to lead, whether for an executive, managerial,
team leader, or individual contribution. To remain on the frontlines, construction companies must continue to invest in their current employees while growing their future set of leaders simultaneously.
Below are some topics of interest involved in the area of leadership:
- Project management
- Employee engagement
- Servant leadership
- Diversity training
- Strategic planning
3. Project delivery and strategy
Construction firms must deliver projects in scope, on budget, and most importantly, on time to succeed. However, managing the ins and outs of construction projects requires specific skill sets, including scheduling construction timelines, knowledge in estimating, overall construction management, and more. Consider providing training on the broader aspects of project strategy and the internal processes.
4. Advanced trade training
The most effective construction employees bring skills acquired from external training inside the company and apply them to result in more positive company outcomes and more successful projects. Incorporate external workshops and certifications into your program for even greater results. Construction industry associations are good starting places to look for relevant opportunities near you.
5. Internal Company Programs
You can also bring the learning opportunities home with internal company programs. Consider partnering with a trade institution, association, or supplier to provide training on pertinent specializations. You can always start small scale with Lunch and Learns, mini webinars, and breakout seminars before introducing a more significant internal event for the employees.
Why Do Your Company Learning Programs Fail?
If your construction company has already been implementing learning programs but fails to deliver the desired improvements, it is usually a result of poor planning and execution. Below are the most common root causes of construction learning program failures:
1. Lack of Interpersonal or Technical Skills
- Not understanding how to do the job
- Knowing how to do the task at hand, but not how to do it properly
- Lacking teamwork necessary to execute activities that require collaborative efforts and people skills
2. Lack of Feedback
- Not knowing what exactly are they supposed to be doing
- Not knowing why they should do it in the first place
- No feedback on how well they are doing a particular
- Not knowing the proper approach to tackle on a job
- Not knowing that the company’s approach is better than individual’s approach
3. Control Limitations of the Employee
- Contradictory instructions from different levels of management
- Lack of information and resources, inadequate tools, devices, and equipment
- Unskilled and ineffective management/supervision/leadership
- Workload being impossible for anyone to do
- Unrealistic expectations and outcomes
4. Consequences of Employees’ Actions
- Poor execution gets no feedback or negative consequence
- Good employees are being punished for doing the right thing
- No understanding of which specific actions cause which consequences – random consequences occur unrelated to performance outcomes
Managing a successful construction learning program is as much an exercise in handling people as providing technical training. Knowing what motivates your employees is essential in developing a learning program. Combine your company objectives, goals with individual employees’ aspirations and develop a specific training curriculum for them.
A well-planned and proper training program will result in quality outcomes and innovative solutions that will improve your company’s bottom line and benefit the construction industry as a whole in the long run.
By offering on-the-job training and online courses to your employees, your company invests valuable time and good faith in your workforce. Advanced training is essential to employees. Providing opportunities through various training paves a clear career direction for employees to follow and gives them confidence in believing in you as their leader and confidence that you are making plans for the future. Employees today seek advancement within their organization that can take advantage of career development opportunities offered to their current role, even if that looks like preparing them for a foreman or manager position or teaching them a specialty.
Change is constant in the construction industry and can be scary for anyone. You make transitions work for you by embracing new technologies and advancements in the field. A learning program will keep your frontline employees and leaders engaged in the latest developments and encourage your organization as a whole to incorporate innovation.