Labor Market and Building Trends

By: Nick Robertson, PMP, CM-LEAN

The construction industry is constantly evolving to become more efficient, hurdle barriers, and conform to increasingly stringent safety and code regulations. Over the course of the next 3 to 5 years and potentially beyond, the industry will need to adapt again. This time the lack of qualified manpower will become a primary obstacle. As the market begins to pick up steam, we are seeing an increase in construction in our local market. However, the amount of high school graduates who are choosing to go into the trades is decreasing while the average age of the trades worker is increasing. Over the past 3 years we have seen manpower become a limiting factor for projects, and it is only getting worse. Unless innovative solutions are implemented into the construction progress this is going to drive cost and schedule in a negative direction for owners.

Contractors who will be successful over the coming years will be those able to adapt to this challenge by utilizing concepts like LEAN Construction planning, modularization, diversifying their subcontractor base, and using technology to eliminate waste from the process. These practices allow contractors to utilize efficiencies in manufacturing, reduce the impact of weather, identify and eliminate waste, draw labor from less saturated markets, and “do more with less”. This will translate to lower costs for owners as well as allow project schedules to be expedited despite the labor shortages.

One key to the implementation of these processes is that they are most effective in the IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) method of construction. Hiring a Construction Manager in advance of design allows building experts to help facilitate a design with these practices in mind. Far too often an owner is not able to maximize savings because when the builder is hired the design limits their ability to remove waste and use some of these best practices. The most successful projects will be those when owners, builders, and design teams come together to maximize the efficiencies and deliver high quality projects using these innovative solutions.

Nick is a project executive who oversees multi-million dollar projects and project teams. His attention is on developing relationships with owners and subcontractors, conflict resolution, and staffing to ensure overall project success. Nick enjoys taking on the most complex and challenging projects regardless of market sector. His clients represent a diverse range including commercial/residential, higher education, development, and industrial.

Effective Change and Communication

By: Dale Partridge, Director of Safety

Quite often the construction company is faced with changes in policy or procedure for a variety of different reasons. There are many things that affect the way that a change is implemented. When faced with these changes, it is very important to balance communication to your employees while satisfying the legal side of the business.

Employees are tasked with learning and knowing rules, regulations, company policies, proper tool handling, plus a variety of other items that need to be committed to memory. When current policy is changed or new policies are implemented, it is critical to communicate in a manner that is most easily interpreted and understood.

The first hurdle of interpreting this change is in how we put it into a readable format. If left to the legal department, the written change may be challenging for the average person to interpret and understand. This type of process could cripple the intent of the change right from the beginning. Remember, the purpose is to give employees the proper training and tools to complete their jobs safely. If we hand them a legal document and ask them to comply we are setting ourselves and them up for failure. There is a balance to meeting the needs of the legal department and effectively putting a change in writing that can be understood by all employees.

Lastly we need to consider the delivery to the affected employees. It is key for the delivery method to be done by appropriate personnel. No matter which method you use for delivery, you should ensure that it is done by the appropriate person(s). This could be a third party or perhaps a person who is respected and seen in the field a majority of the time. Good delivery can mean the difference between falling on deaf ears or involving the employees and having them believe that the changes are for their safest interests.

In conclusion, one can see that a change is just not a pen stroke on a piece of paper. Balancing all aspects of a change starts at the very beginning and continues all the way through implementation. We need to think carefully about all aspects of a change so that we can keep our companies, and most importantly our employees, safe and healthy. Understanding and communication are key to a productive, healthy, and safe workforce that allows us all to benefit.

A veteran professional, Dale is a subject matter expert on the topic of safety with a diverse background in compliance and quality control. Paired with an extensive list of OSHA training and certifications, he is responsible for the overall status and facilitation of the company’s safety training programs, as well as safety compliance, tracking, reporting, documentation, and oversight of all on-site safety managers. Dale creates an environment of personal accountability, and plays an integral role in maintaining Welliver’s position as a leader in workplace safety.