10 Tips for improving and tracking productivity in construction

10 Tips for improving and tracking productivity in construction

Wondering how to improve productivity in construction without sacrificing quality or safety? It’s not an easy task, to be sure. But in this post, we’ll give you ten actionable tips that will help you boost and track your progress with incredible effectiveness.

Defining construction productivity

Before diving into the list, it’s important to get on the same page concerning construction productivity. As you might expect, productivity in construction is a measure of output. Consulting firms like McKinsey & Company analyze construction productivity on a macro scale, comparing data from multiple countries and pitting the industry against others.

Of course, productivity can also be evaluated within individual construction companies, which is the focus of this article. However, we’ll also do our best to incorporate factors McKinsey & Company’s widely-quoted study has identified as responsible for a lag in construction efficiency.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

10 tips for improving productivity in construction

#1. Know the metrics and measurement tools

It’s difficult – if not impossible – to improve your company’s productivity if you don’t know what to analyze.

The following tools are among the most commonly used in construction. Remember that the topic of metrics could easily be an entire textbook unto itself. We’re just skimming through here to give you an idea of how nuanced the measurement of productivity in construction can get.

Labor productivity

Arguably, the most basic measure of productivity (and one used across multiple industries) divides a company or team’s output by the number of hours worked. This will help you understand how much value the entire unit created per hour.

You can then compare this figure to the project’s overall value and labor cost to determine whether you’re operating profitably.

Workforce utilization

Workforce utilization is exactly what it sounds like – a ratio describing how your laborers manage their time. A subpar workforce utilization rate indicates that inaction on the part of your team is costing you money. Productivity can also suffer if your workforce utilization is too perfect (i.e., approaching 100%) because it means your team doesn’t have time for development activities. You need to strike the right balance.

Bridgit Bench is designed to measure this and other construction workforce planning metrics.


Every industry leader understands the importance of measuring data against an appropriate and reliable benchmark. In investment banking, professionals might reference the S&P 500, while customer service representatives rely on industry calculations detailing the ideal amount of time spent on each call.

In construction, you have several options regarding benchmarks. The best one will depend on what task you’re completing. A concrete team, for example, might measure its productivity based on how many square feet they can pour within an hour. When building a skyscraper, you might focus on the number of floors added within a given period.

how to run an effective workforce planning meeting cover

Think your workforce planning meetings could be more productive?

Download our ebook to learn how to run efficient, effective workforce planning meetings with your team.

Get your playbook→

#2. Embrace digitization

Increased digitization is one of the changes McKinsey & Company has identified as capable of helping productivity in construction grow by as much as 60%. Once you understand the benefits of digitization, it’s easy to see why the firm identified it as important.

Effective digitization can automate productivity tracking processes, freeing workers up to spend time analyzing data rather than manually typing things into spreadsheets (or worse – writing them down on paper).

With the many software solutions for construction companies in 2024, there’s no excuse not to rely on properly maintained and accurate data.

There’s a lot more to digitization than managing workforce data, too.

#3. Actively reduce skill gaps

Another potential productivity boost identified by McKinsey & Company is better training and skill development for workers.

Improperly trained workers will naturally be less productive than they could be. In the worst-case scenario, poor training can lead to injuries and further setbacks to your project.

Remember when we mentioned a few sections ago that a workforce utilization ratio of 100% isn’t ideal? This is why. Having your team members constantly working on urgent tasks leaves them unable to engage in training that would improve their productivity in the long term.

By thinking about the big picture this way, you’ll boost productivity across the board at your company rather than just a handful of projects.

#4. Look beyond workforce management

Workforce planning and management are absolutely essential for increasing construction efficiency. Of course, it’s not the only thing that matters, though.

Procurement and supply chain management are two additional areas where consultants have identified a need for progress. For many companies, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a particularly stark reminder of how important it is to develop risk management procedures, improve supplier relationships, and identify outsourcing opportunities.

This falls under the broader umbrella of construction resource management, about which we’ve written an extensive guide.

#5. Get everybody on the same page

Communication hangups are a common cause of lost productivity in construction companies – particularly those in which digitization has stalled. Among the many benefits of using resource management software is that workers operate from a single source of truth, limiting the potential for miscommunication.

Read this article for tips on getting your entire team to embrace data and build a culture around establishing single sources of truth where needed.

Life before & after Bridgit Bench

Watch how leading ENR 400 contractors have leveled up their workforce planning by leaving their spreadsheets behind.

See all of our customer stories →

#6. Implement appropriate incentives

Construction work can be incredibly grueling, especially when a project’s scope changes and workers must revamp their schedules. Implement appropriate incentives in these situations or when laborers successfully complete a project.

It doesn’t have to be anything major. Even some pizza can help workers feel appreciated, which will keep them motivated and productive.

#7. Keep your goals realistic

Having good construction productivity measurement practices in place is great but won’t necessarily be effective if you’re constantly setting unreasonable expectations.

To be clear, you should set goals that challenge your team members to achieve their best. Those goals should be within what you know they can achieve.

Otherwise, you’ll set your team up for constant disappointment as they miss goals and become demotivated. Few things will kill productivity faster!

The good news is that you can avoid this easily by following some of the other tips on this list (particularly embracing digitization and understanding metrics). Once you get a better picture of your workforce and its capabilities, your goal-setting will become more effective.

#8. Encourage feedback – and actually listen to it

Effective collaboration is imperative for ensuring productivity within a construction company.

Any given construction project has countless moving parts. No person can be an expert on everything, so taking feedback seriously from the people you’ve entrusted is important.

When people feel unheard in the workplace, they lose motivation, which heavily impacts productivity. Ignoring feedback from workers in the know may also reduce their ability to complete tasks most efficiently, causing setbacks in quality and progress.

Check out this article for tips on creating a more collaborative construction company.

#9. Run your meetings more efficiently

Meetings that lack direction can leave your workers more confused and less productive than they would’ve been without any meeting. Achieve optimal construction efficiency by ensuring workers are adequately prepared for every meeting.

Every meeting should be framed around an agenda with clear objectives for it to be accomplished/communicated by the end.

#10. Keep the end goal in mind

As you’ve seen throughout this article, many nuances are involved in boosting construction productivity. However, you should never get so caught up with the minutiae that you lose sight of what’s important, which is that projects be completed on time and on budget.

Maintaining this will prevent workers from playing numbers games to impress superiors rather than producing actual value for your company and its clients.

While productivity in construction has lagged behind other industries, we believe the trend can be reversed if companies follow the steps outlined in this article. Productivity is especially important in these uncertain times; getting the right steps in place will strengthen your company for the future.

Michel Richer headshot

Michel Richer

Michel Richer is the Manager of Content and Product Marketing at Bridgit. He started in the construction industry early on with a local restoration company. Michel is driven to propel the construction industry forward by helping to eliminate outdated, ineffective processes.

Connect on LinkedIn →