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Topic: Culture

4 Culture Trends for Construction Companies in 2021

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Building great workplace cultures can be challenging, especially with the rapid pace of change in the modern workplace. Here are four of the hottest culture trends that will impact construction companies in 2021:

Update: The way we work shifted dramatically overnight. In Q1 of 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic hit. Businesses and their employees are being forced to change how they work in some unprecedented ways. While most employees transitioned to remote work, many are left working on the front lines with new social distancing requirements. Confusion, anxiety, and fear are palpable. How will employees adapt to this change in work environment, process, and roles? How can companies help employees be calm, productive, and healthy?

O.C. Tanner pulse surveys show 40% of employees globally are worried about losing their job, while 60% worry about lost income. 65% of employees report feeling a “tense” work environment, and 46% of employees say they are less productive at work. There’s a 221% increase in fearfulness among employees, and a 135% increase in feeling isolated.

During a time of great uncertainty and change, many companies are struggling with how to take care of their people and keep their businesses operating.

What companies can do: In times of crisis, it is a company’s responsibility to help employees thrive. This includes many things: ensuring employees are safe at work, giving them access to the tools and resources they need to do their jobs, prioritizing employee wellbeing, and communicating honestly, accurately, and frequently. Organizations are taking the necessary steps: 92% of companies took appropriate actions to make sure their employees were safe at work. Video communication from senior leaders nearly doubled. The number of flexible leave policies increased 95%. Now is the time to make employees your most important asset. Take care of their needs, help them stay connected in a time of physical disconnection, and show appreciation for their work and efforts, especially those on the front line. If you take care of your people, they will take care of your business.

This means we need to understand how employees are feeling and what they want from work.  Here the 4 culture trends for 2021 (as they existed before the pandemic):

Culture Trend #1: Employees are burning out.


30% of employees in the construction industry say they feel burned out. It’s no surprise why: many construction projects require employees to work evenings, weekends, and holidays to finish a job. Weather conditions can make the work difficult and even halt a project, which often means employees don’t get paid. Safety is also a big concern for these workers. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that construction workers experience work-related injuries and illnesses at a rate higher than the national average.

Not surprisingly, burnout is taking a toll on construction employees. According to the 2020 O.C. Tanner Global Culture Report, 48% of employees in construction say they used to be more optimistic about their careers. 35% say their job has a negative effect on their physical health, and 34% say their wellbeing has significantly decreased. For 36% of construction employees, what they used to tolerate at work has now started to bother them. Unfortunately, many construction leaders are ambivalent about burnout. They believe that employees should do their job because “that’s what they’re paid to do.”

All of these factors add significant stress that contributes to feelings of burnout for construction employees. With the talent shortage and industry growth (at 1.1 growth, it’s the fastest growing industry), construction firms simply can’t risk losing current employees due to burn out.

What construction companies can do: You may not be able to control inclement weather that shuts down a project for the day, but you can help your workforce manage stress. Focus on improving all aspects of employee wellbeing (physical, emotional, and social wellbeing). Create positive everyday experiences at work, so employees feel connected to their work, their peers, and your company. Provide employees with a meaningful purpose that inspires them. Recognize them for how they contribute. Creating a great workplace culture can help mitigate—and possibly prevent—employee burnout, even in the most demanding environments.

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