Good construction labor tracking is vital for ensuring progress on projects and your company’s continued growth. In this post, we’ll take a close look at staff management in construction and give you some tips for improving your processes (or creating a new one altogether).
Why construction labor tracking is key
Keeping track of data pertinent to staff management in construction can be very difficult and time-consuming. This is especially true on major projects that span years and have several phases. Construction companies regularly go out of business (and suffer a number of other consequences) due to inaccurate costing on big jobs, with poor labor forecasting being among the prime culprits.
In light of this alone, the need for reliable labor tracking processes becomes quite clear. You can look at data from previous projects with a few mouse clicks and use that information to influence your planning.
Tracking can help your company in many others ways as well. Without it, remote workforce management (an essential part of running a construction company in the current era) is all but impossible, for example.
You’d be wise to find a tracking solution designed specifically for the construction industry. There’s lots of generalized labor tracking software out there but those lack some of the nuance (and integrations) you’ll find with a dedicated solution.
10 Tips for construction labor and staff management
#1. Utilize construction labor tracking software
As mentioned earlier, workforce tracking is among the most complex aspects of construction given the many metrics and variables involved. Companies still relying on spreadsheets are really doing themselves a disservice given how impressive specialized construction tracking software has gotten.
Bridgit Bench is our dedicated software that allows you to really zero in on what matters, including workload, skills, certifications, and so much more. Because we know every business is different, you can also utilize custom fields to tailor our solution to your needs even further. This removes the guesswork from finding the right person for a particular job.
Look for labor tracking software that integrates well with your other systems so you can get a more complete look at your company’s data.
#2. Invite your team’s feedback on your tracking software
Given how big of a role software plays in labor tracking, it’s important that you invite your team’s feedback. Buggy or otherwise inadequate software will lead to frustration among your employees, which can impact their performance and give you inaccurate data.
Make sure to invite feedback frequently, too. The software landscape is constantly changing and poorly-maintained programs can very quickly fall behind in terms of integrations.
#3. Refine your estimating process with labor tracking data
As we mentioned in the “Why construction labor tracking is key” section, poor estimates regularly sink many construction companies and labor costs are chief among miscalculations. As For Construction Pros points out, savvy companies leverage software and all of the available metrics (and custom fields) to avoid this.
Construction labor tracking software also increasingly offers forecasting features that parse your data and take much of the guesswork out of estimating. These features can really help staff management in construction become about much more than just HR or whatever other misconceptions people might have about the practice.
Read this article to learn how you can use data to optimize your construction workforce planning.
#4. Take your labor tracking mobile
We’re now well into the era where just about everyone carries around a supercomputer (aka smartphone) in their back pocket, even on jobsites. Labor tracking software takes advantage of this, helping you keep tabs on where your employees are and what they’re doing. This greatly simplifies (and improves the accuracy of) their reporting processes, allowing them to focus on what they need to do.
#5. Be open about what you’re doing with employee data
Given all of the data that you collect via your construction labor tracking software, it’s natural for employees to be skeptical or even resistant. As much as possible, you want to avoid the perception that you’re spying on your employees and/or aiming to make their lives difficult.
Be very upfront about your performance expectations as well as how data (particularly of the personalized variety) will be used and stored. If you notice a slump in performance, address it sooner rather than later to keep workers from feeling like you’re constantly building a stockpile of compromising information to later confront them with.
#6. Maintain regular communication
It’s easy to let communication fall to the wayside given how much data gets collected within construction labor tracking software. However, that data (and all of your technology, for that matter) should inform your meetings, not replace them. Check out this post for some tips on creating a data-driven culture around workforce planning. This article, meanwhile, provides some valuable insights as to the benefits of maintaining workforce management meetings. Click here to read about maintaining solid communication as part of your workforce planning.
#7. Stay focused on results
It’s easy to get carried away with all of the data that labor tracking provides. You’ll see your workforce mapped out with a staggering level of detail and may become obsessed with improving your team’s metrics.
Remember, however, that labor tracking should make it easier for you to meet real-world, practical goals. You should avoid creating a culture that prioritizes metrics above actual progress on projects; workers will often just find a way to improve their stats to stay in your good books without actually accomplishing much of anything that your clients care about.
#8. Reward quality work
One great way to achieve the previous tip is to publicly recognize when workers deliver quality separate from productivity metrics. For example, praise workers who go above and beyond in terms of their craftsmanship. This lets your workers know you haven’t just reduced them to a series of numbers and charts but are actually respectful of their craft and dedication.
#9. Choose your key metrics wisely
It’s also important to choose the right metrics with which to measure your team’s progress. You’ll especially need to adjust if you constantly find that your metrics are poor indicators of success or failure.
Good tracking software will make this flexibility easy with just a few mouse clicks. You should also leverage the software company’s support staff when seeking reliable metrics for your software.
#10. Implement measures to prevent malicious behavior
Beyond a certain size, construction companies inevitably run into workers who exhibit malicious behavior. Time theft is particularly common, as is inappropriate use of materials. It’s important that you identify patterns that indicate these costly behaviors so you can deal with them as soon as possible.
This is among the biggest advantages of using data for staff management in construction. You’ll identify behaviors that were previously invisible.
A comprehensive construction labor tracking strategy is imperative for success. We hope the tips in this article have been helpful as you look to improve your overall workforce management strategy.
To sum everything up nicely, data can be very valuable in informing your decisions about staff and labor management. The key is to choose the correct metrics and still keep a focus on the big picture. Use your tracking process like a tool that guides you towards successful project closeouts rather than focusing solely on stats.
Lauren Lake is the COO and co-founder at Bridgit. She holds a degree in Civil Structural Engineering and is well-versed in construction workforce management and resource planning processes. Lauren has been named to the Forbes Manufacturing & Industry 30 Under 30 and Best Of Canada Forbes Under 30 Innovators lists. Lauren has presented at industry events and conferences, including BuiltWorlds, Canadian Construction Association, Procore Groundbreak, and more. Follow Lauren on LinkedIn and Instagram.
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