Why is Communication So Poor In Construction?
And what you can do to better connect with your senior team
Are Your People In The Know?
Covid recovery, Brexit, shipping fiasco’s and labour supply shortages. The UK has seemingly faced crisis after crisis. Closer to home, lockdown easing has resulted in the dreaded Pingdemic.
Although most of the population is adhering to the latest advice, issues are brewing within construction. That being, communication. According to Nathan Raven, our Head of Interiors, businesses need to take note, sooner rather than later.
“Lack of communication” is having a massive impact
“Having worked in the Interiors sector for close to a decade, it’s the first time I’ve seen candidates at such a low ebb. The reason for this all points to one key issue, a lack of communication.
“Employees are reporting broken promise after broken promise. Some of those are to be expected, due to the volatile nature of the industry. But, according to most, the reasons aren’t being communicated to them. Additionally, due to the volatility, senior staff are working 60 hour weeks, with zero compensation or thanks, to keep up with the schedules. They’re essentially overworked, underappreciated and burnt out”.
Something has to give. Otherwise, these highly skilled people are going to look at switching careers, let alone employers. A scenario that’s already happening and one we need to avoid.
Beyond COVID, Brexit and Supply
Even with the restrictions lifted, the post-pandemic world is a different place.
- Brexit has seen to it that finding labour is difficult.
- Material supply chains are backlogged, due to border wranglings and the Suez Canal incident.
- Hospitality is still yet to fully re-open.
Brexit. Super Tankers. Covid restrictions. They’re all external factors that no one can control. Is it a wonder that businesses and sub-contractors within construction struggle to see the wood for the trees?
“All the factors that are impacting the industry are beyond the control of even the sharpest CEO. Although I’d be crazy to suggest what you can’t control, ignore, the only thing anyone can do is react as best possible.
“Businesses are obviously trying their best to navigate this storm. But, from what I keep hearing, the reactions and short term plans aren’t being communicated effectively to their teams, resulting in a disconnect, lower morale and worsening satisfaction”.
Nathan and his team believe that firms can attempt to alleviate these issues by embracing better communication and handing out more appreciation.
Adopt Sorenson’s Charity. Clarity. Brevity. Levity.
John F Kennedy’s speechwriter, Ted Sorenson, came up with a concept for great speeches. When you speak directly to your audience/employees, it should never be undercooked, particular in times like this. No news is good news when you directly tell people “no news is good news”.
Use it to your advantage. Nathan adds:
“I’m a big believer in the art of communication. It makes a huge difference. Having read about the JFK approach, there are definite takeaways for the interiors industry when it comes to communication.
- With charity, this is about two things. Acknowledging hard work verbally, a thank you goes a long way. The second, if one of your staff has worked four 12 hour shifts straight AND contends with extra commuter miles, is a Friday afternoon off as thanks going to hurt your business? If their work is complete, no. Out of the blue time off goes a long way.
- Clarity, in this instance, is self-explanatory. However, I would suggest scrapping talks of things to come and focus on the immediate month or weeks in hand. Be clear on the message. If more work is needed, tell your staff in advance. They deserve to know so they can also plan.
- When it comes to Brevity, time is of the essence. 60-minute Zoom calls every day wear down the best of us. Keep things short and sweet. Segment your staff into 15-minute update slots to cut out waste. If they’re working longer hours, a meeting that takes up just one of those is likely to infuriate.
- Finally, Levity. It’s not about making light of the situation. But if your 15-minute update is more doom and gloom, all of the above is lost. Yes, times are challenging, and yes, some companies have unfortunately sunk. But your business is still in the fight. At least make it look like you’re enjoying that fact”.
A Genuine Threat For The Candidate Pool
As a business, Lignum specialises in placing candidates into new roles within construction. By virtue, we should be happy that more quality candidates are looking to switch positions. But that would be incredibly short-sighted.
“There’s a real threat of longer-lasting damage to both the industry AND the skills within it. When I place a candidate in a role, I want them to stay there for as long as they deem possible. However, the more quality Quantity Surveyors, Project Managers and Estimators become demoralised with their roles, bouncing from employer to employer, the more they’re likely to switch careers. And I’ve seen it happen, right on my doorstep. After becoming completely burnout, a colleague of mine left the education industry to join our Labour Supply team”.
“The people I work with are senior, approaching the prime of their careers. They’re 40 to 50-year-olds, with families at home. If they’re not going home in time to see their kids, time becomes more important than money and progression. If your people start valuing the time that you and other businesses can’t offer, it’s their time to throw in the towel.
And as someone who loves working in the interiors sector, I’d hate to see that happen. Especially when a little compassion and communication can go a long way”.
What Can You Do To Better Communicate?
When you invest more time into flexibility and communication resources for your staff, countless reports say it works, often with a 20-30% boost to their overall job happiness/satisfaction.
Little things matter and they don’t go amiss on the right employees. The most important thing to take away from the entire pandemic is that people have realised their boundaries with work and personal life.
Some suggestions point towards a “big resignation” of people, ditching their careers to focus on their aspirations. Employers who aren’t giving but still take are likely to be hit. For the sake of a few hours off on a Friday and better dialogue, it’s worth it.