All industry has their share of challenges, but there is one common denominator that even the construction industry is having trouble with – achieving the optimal work-life balance in the workplace.
Many people in the business sectors have predicted that a healthy work-life balance will be the biggest management challenge of the 21st century, and we can see that they are not wrong at all. Work-life balance has been the buzz among all professions, and it looks like it won’t die soon. But what exactly is the concept of balancing life and work? In layman’s terms, it is simply the healthy balance of a worker between social and work life. Some factors driving the changing demographics include the inter-generational workforce, constant re-shaping of employees’ expectations in work, and the increasing number of workers juggling work and life responsibilities.
Surprisingly enough, work-life balance is also becoming a popular topic in the construction world. Given the industry’s rising labor shortage, odd and long work hours, and many companies repulsed with the idea of a healthy workplace; construction workers need help managing a sustainable lifestyle that won’t lead them to burnout. Unfortunately, a lack of work-life balance results in conflicts among teams and work burnout, which leads to performance decline and increased mental health and fatigue problems. In turn, this scenario can derail workforce productivity in the workplace. However, businesses that address the work-life balance issue now can boost quality productivity, profitability, and workforce growth.
How the Pandemic Re-Shaped the Concept of Mental Health in Construction
When the global pandemic hit us, various industries adapted adjustments to keep up with the unprecedented change everyone was experiencing. With more to reflect on their career goals, many construction employees have left the industry or moved jobs. Some need help with onboarding new team members digitally, and others find it easier to work in an isolated setting with a team to motivate them. Some can only work productively with the buzz of the office they’re used to. Many companies believe that sticking to the pre-pandemic way of operating business will still work, but it only leads to more labor shortages and staff retention issues. Construction employees have come to enjoy and now expect flexibility to juggle work and personal life, and this doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon.
Most businesses injected adjustment into their processes, but the construction industry was stiff on their old and fixed ways. As we enter the post-pandemic era, the work-life approach construction companies choose could greatly shape their staff retention success rate and the labor shortage issue of the industry as a whole. But what exactly do we need to do to make this happen?
How Can One Define Work-Life Balance?
Defining work-life balance has proven difficult since these terms often mean different things to different people. The challenge now for companies in the construction industry is deciding internally what work-life balance means and how companies can achieve this through proper initiatives. Sadly, most companies only offer work-life initiatives to employees who already have a family (maternity and paternity leaves are some of the help provided by companies); however, this kind of balance should be inclusive of all construction team members. Regardless of the demographics or family structure, companies should consider all employees.
Construction is a very demanding industry where employees experience high levels of job stress daily due to full workloads, time constraints, and overlapping deadlines. That makes it especially hard for employees to manage their realities which is a detrimental problem regarding work-life balance.
However, construction managers are critical in helping their teams achieve a good work-life balance. Sometimes, managers serve as “gatekeepers” to provide workers with vital information about and proper access to a company’s work-life benefits. Moreover, managers are often the first people employees go to when they have problems due to their knowledge of the work-life policies they are entitled to when they sign the job offer. Managers need to let their team know they’re capable and available to help if someone encounters work-life balance issues.
How To Implement Work-Life Balance in Construction Workplace?
1. Flexible Working Hours
One of the options that the pandemic has opened for all industries is having flexible working hours. Flexible work time can take various forms and offers many advantages for a construction team. For instance, you can allow workers to bank their overtime hours so they can use them in the future, condense 5-day work hours to only four days, or vary the number of work hours from one week to the next.
This flexibility in schedule gives construction workers more autonomy and freedom and allows employees to juggle unexpected circumstances (school pedagogical day, daycare closing, sickness, etc.). Though rest assured, flexible work hours do not necessarily have less productivity. With construction time tracking tools, it is possible to take note of your employee’s schedules. You can also ensure that with the right construction task management technology, tasks will be completed despite the flexibility in work hours.
2. Start With Yourself
Now, let’s look at what we can do individually to achieve balance.
While taking time to take inventory of your life is important, it can be challenging for us to achieve harmony between our work and life. Most often, the little things we do daily make the biggest difference in the long run. Planning out your week on the weekend and noting your commitments can help you plan effectively and avoid overwhelm at work.
Refrain from overwhelming yourself with a long to-do list at the start of each workday. Rather, try focusing on three to five priority to-do’s each day. It’s important to keep your schedule manageable- flexibility is key, and you want to feel energized when it’s only mid-week.
It can also be helpful to use the last 30 minutes of each day to reflect on your day and ensure you’re in a good position for tomorrow. Re-centre before you re-enter.
3. Avoid Micromanaging; Focus on Helping
Micromanaging how to do day-to-day tasks can foster distrust and resentment in the workplace – no one wants to be told what to do every minute. Team flexibility centers around the idea of trust and autonomy. Everyone at work wants to be successful and be confident enough to say they are good at what they do. You don’t need to instill this kind of motivation as a leader, you just need to support it.
What you can do is try focusing on what tools and offerings you can provide your team to help them hone their skills or access resources that can help them grow professionally and individually. While it’s helpful to dabble on the technical side, like the core of projects and contracts, you can also implement basic skill training related to organization and communication. By putting your energy and focus into supporting your team rather than managing them, you’ll get more output from your high-performers and weed out the ones who didn’t want to be there anyway.
4. Set Expectations and Foster Accountability
Construction workforce management is also accountability management- teams with harmony between them are accountable to each other because they have set expectations in place. You need to set which metrics are tied directly to their success rate to ensure they deliver as expected, but keep it simple and avoid getting caught in many details. If you give your employees the freedom to work individually and let them know you’re always there to help, they’ll be driven to figure out the rest.
5. Provide Digital Resources
With the rise of innovative tools available for the construction industry, many options are available to lessen your employees’ workload with the help of the right construction management software. Digital solutions like Pro Crew Schedule enables construction teams to not worry about manually tracking their time and target deliverables since they will be available in the cloud. Document control and asset inventory can also be directly uploaded to the cloud to prevent losses and overlooked items. Construction inventory management can also be done online to reduce archiving, and admin works for your people.
These can all be done with a click of your finger. Start a 30-day free trial today.
Work-life balance is a growing construction management issue. Make no mistake about that. Some experts think it will be the top management issue of the 21st century. Any industry or company that wants to survive the race in the future will need to start creating a supportive work-life balance culture within their teams—especially if the company is in construction. The long-term benefits of organizations that foster work-life balance greatly outweigh any policy revisions or temporary hassles they may experience. These positive benefits can help companies beat what may be considered the leading challenge in the construction industry today—recruiting and retaining highly skilled, experienced construction workers.