The construction business is rewarding, but not easy. Construction managers will face many of the same challenges as other industries and a few more, often stemming from the independent and potentially dangerous work which also come with many risks for the employer and employee.
This article intends to inform managers in the construction business about potential issues that can arise in your business, how to fix them, anticipate them, and when to get help.
Construction can produce environments in which employees feel the need to use drugs and alcohol to cope. Physical factors include long hours, unusual overnight shifts, and potentially loud high stress environments. Construction is also physically tough on the body. The construction industry has the second highest rate of heavy alcohol usage and the fifth highest use of illegal drugs.
Some construction workers have reported using meth to sustain energy for long shifts or binge drinking on long breaks. The hard physical labor also causes many to start using opioids, which are highly addictive and can be harmful long term and lead to overdose.
How do I fix substance abuse issues?
The tricky balance with substance abuse issues is maintaining a high standard of work, not wearing out your workers, and establishing trust. You can take potentially problematic employees aside and offer free known resources like helplines to address any issues. Randomized drug testing is also possible though it lowers the amount of trust between employees and employers.
Make sure employees know clear consequences if they fail a drug test. Be sensitive to drug, opioid and alcohol usage, but be firm in order to maintain a standard of good work. Naturally, set an example and don’t do things on or off the job you wouldn’t want your employees to do.
Many varieties of issues can cause even good employees to miss a shift unexpectedly. Childcare issues arise, as does illness. Car issues are common too.
Like substance abuse, be firm but be fair. Know if employees are missing shifts because they don’t want to work or if their excuses are real. This will not be easy, but it needs to be done so that appropriate discipline can be instilled so that other employees don’t try to do the same thing. At the very least, ask employees to communicate the issues that keep them from work on purpose.
What Else Can I do to Fix Missed Shifts?
Be a model employee yourself. You need to show up for scheduled shifts on time or have a valid excuse, or your employees won’t.
Encourage open communication about attendance issues. If attendance becomes a problem, help the employee solve their issues. A manager who cares enough to help with an issue is a trusted manager.
Bad behavior spreads. Don’t be afraid to remove employees who are causing problems as an example, and because a lack of available manpower and good attitude is harmful to the team.
Time Theft or Wage Theft
Depending on your method of time keeping, time and wage theft can be easy. Some workers use the buddy system on a physical clock to clock somebody else in too to earn a few more dollars, or to cover attendance issues. Time theft also consists of people who are not working when they are clocked in, possibly spending an excessive amount of time on their phone or otherwise not remaining focused.
How do I fix time theft?
Companies like Bridgit Solutions (https://www.bridgitsolutions.com/construction-field-workforce-management) offer easy answers, including HR software that also makes the payroll process easier. Tracking software can save employers thousands per year when the hourly wage labor clocks are kept accurate and employees on task.
Lawsuits can be very expensive and time consuming. The best way to avoid lawsuits is to ensure your company is following all state and federal laws for safety, labor, and more, especially in the event of injury, employment issues like firing, and wage disputes.
How do I prevent lawsuits?
Bridgit Solutions offers the ability to have employees sign compliance agreements while clocking in and out of work so that employees are aware that they should make observations about issues while working and before engaging in potentially dangerous activity instead of causing or claiming a problem occurred later.
On-demand lawyers are also available to answer any immediate needs, since construction is hands on, time sensitive work that often needs a fast answer.
No workplace is free of equipment misuse or potential hazards from equipment. Employees can abuse or break equipment, or equipment can hurt employees. Neither is desirable and can be expensive and complicated to fix.
How to Fix Equipment and Hazard Issues
One of the biggest causes of equipment issues is miscommunication or a lack of training. If an employee doesn’t use an excavator every day, they may need a training refresher before using it again. Communication is also key, as an employee who doesn’t know how to use equipment may not ask, so establishing trust and the “there’s no such thing as a stupid question’ is quite helpful in preventing problems.
Let employees know that mistakes are OK but asking first is even better.
Like any workplace, construction has its fair share of potential HR issues. From substance abuse at the end of a long, hard day to wage theft using low tech systems. Other important issues include lawsuits and misuse, both of which need good communication, trust, and legal compliance to effectively avoid.
Now that you know about a few issues faced by construction companies, go make small improvements to yours and encourage employee well-being. Be the trusted manager who they can talk to and you’ll be able to rely on them to get the job done o a regular basis.