Your ultimate guide to HR in construction

Your ultimate guide to HR in construction

Effective HR in construction ensures the safe and timely completion of projects. In this post, we’ll discuss what’s involved in human resources for construction and give you some tips for ensuring your company’s strategy is the best it can be.

Responsibilities of HR in construction

In construction, as with any industry, human resources staff handle tasks related to recruiting and managing workers. That may include running payroll, overseeing training programs, and mitigating conflicts among personnel.

There are some additional responsibilities for those working HR in construction, however. Let’s take a closer look.

Workforce projections

The milestone-driven nature of the industry means human resource professionals are often tasked with using resource management software to forecast worker productivity and labor needs.

Recruiting highly-specialized laborers

Construction projects are very multifaceted. Some roles require highly specialized skill sets that only a handful of people within the local industry may have. As a result, recruiting can be even more challenging than in other industries.

Filling skill gaps with training

Even when human resource staff members do a good job of recruiting, it’s not common for there to be gaps between what a job requires and what the workers are capable of delivering. HR fills those gaps by maintaining an understanding of the company’s ongoing needs and coordinating the proper training.

Communicating with unions

Construction is among the most unionized industries in North America. When it comes to hiring workers, terminating them, providing benefits, and a whole host of other considerations, staff working human resources in construction can’t escape communicating with representatives from these unions.

Monitoring safety compliance

Safety violations that lead to injury on the job site can cost companies tens of thousands of dollars and take important staff members off a project.

In construction, human resource staff members are typically responsible for coordinating the training and safety programs that minimize the likelihood of accidents. A construction safety officer will take those plans and implement them.

Why human resources in construction are so important

In discussing the roles and responsibilities of HR managers in construction, we touched on a few reasons for their importance. Let’s take a closer look at them now.

Worker retention

Construction is a very competitive field. Good workers can give your company an edge over its competitors – but only if you can hang onto them. A solid construction HR strategy will focus on maintaining worker relations, which means offering competitive incentives and ensuring the work environment is conducive to career development.

Compliance

Unions contracts are just one aspect of a construction HR manager’s compliance-related duties. They ensure that a company’s entire workforce management operations align with federal and local laws, including those governing fair wages, working standards, and benefits. 

Holding everyone together

Construction is a very diverse industry. There are people of all walks of life, some of whom may need unique accommodations to reach their full potential. An HR manager coordinates these accommodations and ensures workers are treated fairly regardless of who they are.

In addition to fostering a healthy work environment in which people are more likely to succeed, this maintains your company’s reputation as a place where top talent can thrive and feel safe.

How to improve HR in construction

Every company has things they can improve on. Here are some tips for improving your human resources strategy.

Use dedicated HR software for construction companies

There’s an app for just about every facet of construction management, including human resources. Our software, Bridgit Bench, is the most powerful tool for using workforce data to influence your management decisions. It also integrates with Procore, which features additional helpful tools for HR, such as a training center and super detailed incident reporting.

Increase your usage of data for project management

Among the perks of using dedicated HR software for construction companies is that it provides utility far beyond the administrative tasks people often associate with HR.

Use your software to enhance construction manpower planning meetings and create a data-driven culture around workforce planning as a whole. The complexities of running a construction company (and the integral nature of personnel management) position HR reps quite well to make a substantial impact on operations.

Set clear expectations at the recruiting stage

When recruiting for a job in construction, it’s imperative that you create an accurate job description. The right worker should be able to read the description and very clearly see how they can contribute to the role.

This is particularly important in the construction industry, where roles can often be highly specialized. A vague description will set poor expectations and limit the number of useful candidates that come your way.

Create an onboarding process

When new employees in other industries make mistakes or fail to follow company protocol, they might botch some paperwork or something of that sort. In the construction industry, mistakes by new hires can (and often do) cause serious bodily harm.

Prevent this by having a proper onboarding process that goes beyond the bare minimum programs mandated by your state or province. Have regular check-ins with new hires to ensure they’re actually following the procedures and that other workers are setting good examples.

Monitor – and act on – turnover rates

The construction industry has very high employee turnover rates. One study cites physical and emotional exhaustion as being among common causes. HR has dominion over both of these issues and should constantly be monitoring incidences of turnover to understand what situations and company habits might be to blame.

After all, construction is a particularly project-driven industry. Turnover at inopportune times can set a project back substantially, costing lots of money and negatively impacting your company’s reputation.

Offering competitive wages and benefits is just one way to reduce turnover. Look at your company’s entire culture to ensure it is a safe, friendly one. If employees want to file complaints about someone’s behavior, they should be able to do so without fear of retaliation or other breaches of their trust in HR.

Show that you care about worker healthcare and safety

Construction is a very physically demanding industry. While people in other management roles tend to prioritize completing projects well and on time, it’s HR’s responsibility to have a softer touch. Make sure workers are aware of their healthcare coverage and know that they can use it for preventative checkups.

It’s just good business. If workers take better care of themselves, they’ll be there when your company needs them to ensure progress is being made on important projects. And that, of course, is at the core of solid HR management in construction.

HR is a vital part of success in the construction industry. We hope this article has been useful in helping you plan improvements to your existing strategy! Be sure to check out our other workforce management-related blog posts here.


Lauren Lake

Lauren Lake is the CCO 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.

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