New Year’s Resolutions
The new year is often synonymous with a fresh start. Whether it’s something as simple as drinking more water, or perhaps something more ambitious like running a marathon, New Year’s Resolutions are made to help people strive for the best year yet. This same feeling applies to New Year’s resolutions for construction companies.
Image borrowed from The Fabricator.
40 – 45% of all Americans make at least one resolution every year. That’s over 130 million people in one country alone who start the New Year off looking to do better. The most common resolutions include better money management, being healthier, quitting smoking, or getting more sleep.
Companies aren’t much different. The beginning of a new year often comes with a set of new goals and targets after a reflection on the past year. These goals and targets, however, may focus on money, growth, and numbers. This is where resolutions hold a certain quality that gives them special worth.
Resolutions may be seen as a generic wish pointed out by an individual with no real plan or method for achievement while goals are often specific and come with a plan. Resolutions, however, are more about improvement on a level that is less about numbers, budget, or something tangible. This is where companies could learn from the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions.
With the “fresh start of a new year” and moving beyond budgets and targets in mind, here are 4 New Year’s resolutions for construction companies in 2020.
1) Incorporate Mental Health Into Health and Safety Training Standards
Mental health continues to affect construction workers at a higher rate than other industries. The suicide rate for the construction industry is higher than others in many countries around the world. The mix of the male-dominant industry, with low job security, long working hours, and a culture that frowns upon “weakness” had lead to what some call the silent epidemic of the construction industry.
Image borrowed from PBC Today.
It’s time for every construction company to make a plan to bring mental health safety into their health and safety training protocols. The standards of PPE, accident reporting, and having a designated safety officer on site can include a mental health first aid responder, an open door policy for communicating with leaders and the addition of mental health days and counselling services to benefits plans.
The biggest thing that this resolution could do for the industry is to break down the stigma of mental health and men talking about their emotional wellbeing. If companies start talking about mental health at the same time as physical health, that sends the message that these are important conversations which are supported, encouraged, and welcomed. The sooner this stigma can be broken in the industry, the more lives can be saved.
2) Strive for Company Wide Gender Equality
For those who are already in the industry and those who aren’t, gender equality in construction would change the industry forever. Less than 10% of the entire construction workforce are women. Women who are in the industry face higher injury rates, pay inequality, exclusion, discrimination, and even being passed on for promotions because of their gender.
Making gender equality a priority for the new year is beneficial for every company out there – construction related or not. Companies with women in leadership positions statistically earn more revenue and see more growth compared to those who don’t. Gender equality also includes benefits for all employees such as paternal leave, family care days, and can help create a more welcoming environment for conversations like mental health, as mentioned above.
In the construction industry, creating a more welcoming environment for women where they are treated as equals could save the future of the industry. The labour shortage was a big topic in 2019 as companies across the industry struggle to find skilled labourers. Women are believed to be the key to filling these skills gaps.
Creating a gender-equal workplace culture could welcome the next generation of labourers, help to break down the barriers which stop women from studying a trade in the first place, and make a more welcoming environment for everyone to work in, in the first place.
Make it a company-wide initiative to eliminate discrimination or sexism. Educate employees about what these things are, explain what sexism looks like, and talk about things like mansplaining with employees. All leaders should be encouraged to be an example for welcoming women.
Companies can also do their part to seek out women for roles as well. Seek out the closest association for women in construction and ask for resources on hiring women. Challenge your own hiring practises. Make it a resolution to address your own stigmas. We all have them, but this is the first step to changing them.
3) Embrace Technology
There are very few industries out there that are ramping up their tech integration like construction. The industry has been slow to get going, but it’s full-steam ahead on the tech train for construction in the new year. 2019 has been a year of telematics, drones, virtual reality training, building information modeling (BIM) and all the other new technology out there for construction workers.
These quick advances, however, can be a lot. For the small and medium sized companies and independent contractors, many of these technologies can be far beyond what they are capable of doing. But integrating and embracing technology in construction doesn’t have to be about these large-scale tech advancements like autonomous construction equipment.
For some, switching to digital bookkeeping or invoicing can be a technological step that can increase productivity and efficiency. Upgrading to a new fleet management system could be incredibly helpful for a snow removal company, or for a contractor with multiple pieces of equipment. Perhaps even setting up a website, and email, or a facebook page for a business is new for some small or independent contractors.
Embracing technology isn’t about shooting for the moon. It’s about looking for ways to improve your efficiency with a tool that will work for you. There are many user-friendly starter programs for companies and contractors looking to bring technology into the mix.
Maybe an automated calendar to remind employees about different jobs would be of help. Maybe you want to send out automated emails every friday. Maybe you simply need to set up automated payments from a bank account. No matter what your goals are, technology is a tool to be used to help. While it’s not necessary to focus on the big construction-tech options out there, it’s definitely time to embrace what options could help make work more efficient for you.
4) Focus on Building Authentic Working Relationships In and Outside The Office
The importance of authentic relationships was talked about a lot in the past year. These relationships go beyond co-workers and should include every relationship from customers, managers, the local community, to even building managers and facility workers on contracted jobs.
Authentic relationship building is the key to developing trust. It can make or break a workplace culture and can be the difference between a customer returning or not. This authentic relationship can be key in improving other workplace factors like mental health and gender equality, as mentioned before.
Being a company that values authentic connections with employees can also be an attractive point for prospective hires and those looking for jobs. In a world with so many companies seeking skilled labourers, anything you can do to stand out is important.
When a company cares about its employees, its customers, its industry connections, and its community in a real, honest, and open way, it builds a reputation that no amount of marketing or advertising can. Word of mouth travels fast, and authenticity is a powerful player in the 21st century.
While everyone likes to start fresh in the new year, it’s also a time of reflection. Although these four resolutions may not already be on your list, consider adding them. If a reflection back on the past year can tell us anything, it’s that the industry is moving and changing quickly. These New Year’s resolutions for construction companies can help you stay on top of emerging trends in the industry. By getting your company on board with these four key topics, you can set yourself up for the best year yet.