An important part of overseeing your workforce is construction workload management. Coordinating responsibilities to ensure efficiency and fairness prevents overburdening your workers, which can be counterproductive and can end up hurting you in the long run. Keep reading for some tips on effective workload management systems and tools.
What is workload management?
As the name suggests, workload management is the process of allocating and managing resources to meet the demands of a given workload. In other words, it involves distributing work evenly among employees to maximize efficiency and minimize resource contention.
The main goal of workload management is to ensure that resources are used efficiently and effectively. In some cases, this may mean allocating more resources to one task in order to meet a deadline, while in other cases, it may mean distributing work more evenly among employees or systems.
Why managing workload effectively is important
One of the most important reasons to effectively manage workloads is to help avoid worker burnout. Constantly working at full capacity without any breaks can cause workers to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. This can, in turn, lead to critical errors and mistakes. Employees are also much more likely to be unhappy with their jobs and leave, causing a high turnover rate.
Another reason to effectively manage workloads is that it can actually encourage productivity. Having workers constantly juggle tasks can make focusing and properly completing tasks extremely difficult. Spreading out tasks to be prioritized allows for wiser time management, which gets things done in less time.
How to manage workload effectively in the construction industry
There are a number of different approaches that can be used to manage workloads, and the most appropriate approach will depend on the specific needs of your company. Usually, though, it involves planning and allocating resources based on:
- Priority – Tasks that are considered to be the most important should be allocated more resources. For example, a company may prioritize electrical work over other jobs in order to ensure that everything that comes after can be done in succession.
- Workload – This sees allocating resources based on the amount of work that needs to be done. For example, a company may allocate more resources to a department that has a higher volume of work for managing workload effectively.
- Capacity – Some companies may allocate resources based on the amount of work that can be done by each employee or system. They might, for example, allocate more resources to a department that has more available workers or systems.
- Time – The time it will take to complete a task is also important to consider. More resources should be assigned to tasks that are due sooner.
Workload management can be a complex task, particularly in large construction firms with many different types of workers. There are a number of software tools available to help with workload management, and many companies have developed their own internal systems and processes for managing workloads.
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Construction effective workload management tips
Here are some tips to help with effectively managing workloads.
Know your team’s capacity
It’s impossible to effectively manage a team’s workload without knowing their capacity. Thankfully, software platforms streamline the process of gauging your workforce’s capacity in light of both current and projected demands.
This process entails the following:
- Understanding the landscape of your company’s current projects and the associated milestones.
- Understanding how resources (including workers) are currently allocated across those projects and milestones.
- Gauging how those allocations are impacting workers. This may involve speaking with workers to understand their perspectives. Good workload management tools like Bridgit Bench can also provide workforce intelligence data that makes it easy to spot burnout and other signs of poor workload management.
- Using information acquired via the prior three steps to gauge whether existing workload allocations are efficient.
Maintain open communication between field workers and management
Effective workload management in construction takes into account that workers have a finite amount of energy with which they can complete tasks. It also takes into account that workers won’t always voluntarily be transparent when their capacity is spent.
That’s why it’s important for construction workforce management personnel to maintain open lines of communication with field workers. Workload management tools like Bridgit Bench make this easy by letting workers update their availability in the cloud, giving management personnel a clear understanding of their team’s availability at a glance.
Tailor effective workload management techniques to the needs of individual workers
No two construction workers are alike. They all have different capabilities and capacities. This should be taken into account during the workload management process.
For example, if a particular worker struggles with certain activities, it might be wise to limit the amount of time they spend on those tasks until they receive further training. For the sake of keeping projects moving, you’d also likely want to assign those tasks to workers better suited for them when the outcomes are mission-critical.
Familiarize yourself with industry-standard tools and resources
There are a variety of workload management systems and tools that people in the industry use to plan effectively. These include
- Gantt charts – Bar charts that help managers easily visualize project schedules and progress.
- The Eisenhower Matrix – Also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, this tool helps you organize workload based on temporal importance. It was invented by U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower and revolves around four quadrants:
- Do first: The most important tasks that must be completed as soon as possible (i.e., urgent RFIs that, if left unaddressed, would slow mission-critical work down).
- Schedule: Important tasks that should be coordinated and scheduled, but don’t actually need to be completed immediately (i.e., responding to RFIs that concern phases of a project that are still a ways off).
- Delegate: Important tasks that don’t require high-level decision-making and can consequently be delegated (i.e., tasks delegated to a construction superintendent that are better suited for someone lower in the chain of command).
- Don’t do: Lastly, tasks in this quadrant are neither important nor urgent and don’t need to be completed (i.e., responding to RFIs that have already been resolved elsewhere).
- Kanban – This staple of agile management entails using a vertically-oriented board to display tasks and organize workload. A task’s placement in a particular column denotes its status (i.e., “In progress” or “Complete”). This is helpful from a workload management perspective, as it makes it easy to see where work is getting stuck in the pipeline. If the bulk of your team’s projects isn’t making it past the “Planning” column, for example, there are likely workload management issues at play.
Prioritize output over long hours
Many companies make the mistake of incentivizing long hours rather than rewarding workers for their output (including the quality thereof). This is a mistake since long hours don’t actually equate to greater productivity beyond a certain point.
As long as workers are fulfilling their obligations, they shouldn’t be punished through things like being passed up for promotions, especially for recognizing when their capacity for productivity has run out on a particular day.
Include workload-related metrics among the KPIs you track
Another mistake many construction companies make when it comes to how to manage workload effectively entails failing to track workload management-related KPIs. When a company’s success is only measured in terms of how many tasks get completed or whether clients are satisfied, this sets the stage for burnout and other consequences caused by poor workload management.
Teams should be celebrated for managing their workloads efficiently, which can be measured via low turnover rates, high employee satisfaction, and long-term productivity.
Set achievable goals
Good goal-setting is the cornerstone of effective workload management. This is especially true in construction, given the industry’s unique logistical challenges. Workers can only build structures (or pour concrete, install electrical components, etc.) so quickly while maintaining quality and safety.
Poorly-set deadlines jeopardize these two important objectives, which reflects negatively on any company’s workload management strategy.
Give workers the resources and discretion to contribute to workload plans
Workload planning shouldn’t occur in a silo. Rather, workers should have the opportunities and resources they need to contribute to workforce planning in the context of their own teams. Software like Bridgit Bench makes this a breeze, letting workers see and provide feedback on plans via the cloud.
Some might be fearful of this turning into a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario, but with clear boundaries, that doesn’t have to be the case. It all comes down to knowing your workers and setting those boundaries in an appropriate manner.
Using Bridgit Bench for effective workload management
From workforce intelligence to workload plan contribution to real-time availability updates, Bridgit Bench makes overseeing your workforce much easier. Our platform helps you identify under or over-allocations to prevent burnout and improve workload management. Supervisors and workers are empowered by having a say in planning and capacity.
At Bridgit, we’re all about helping construction professionals manage resources more efficiently. Features of Bridgit Bench, our flagship software, include (but are not limited to):
- pursuit tracking
- labor scheduling
- remote workforce planning
- labor demand forecasting
- human resource database management
Talk to one of our workforce plannings experts to learn more about what Bridgit Bench can do for you.