Doka UK, February 14, 2018.- 2017 was a rollercoaster year for the construction industry and its workers, but will 2018 have more uncertainties for English construction companies? It has been predicted that the sector is struggling, but is climbing out of a recession thanks to a surge in the construction on new homes. In this article we take a further look into the economy, with reference to reports from sources such as The Guardian, ukconstructionmedia.co.uk, Select International, amongst others.
We found a starting point with The Guardian who state that “alongside solid readings from the smaller manufacturing and construction sectors, the report from Britain’s dominant services industry suggested economic growth of between 0.4% and 0.5% in the final three months of 2017, according to the IHS Markit chief economist, Chris Williamson.” The Guardian further reports that “the uncertainty from Brexit prevented the UK from fully enjoying the tailwind from the synchronised global upswing [for economic growth]”, and “the PMI figures give a broadly positive reading on the health of the economy at the end of 2017, there were some signs of underlying weakness. As well as growing at the slowest rate since August 2016, services firms said Brexit-related uncertainty was holding back the willingness of their clients to spend. The rate of employment growth also eased to a nine-month low”.
New London Architecture reports the increasing challenges in accommodating a growing population, expected to reach over 11 million people by 2050, while commitments to contain the sprawl within the Green Belt prompts questions on how to make better use of the scarce amount of land available. They also explain how high-rise residential buildings can help in solving the housing crisis which the British Economy is currently facing. Following on from this, we now take a look at a recent article published by ukconstructionmedia.co.uk, who articulate how they and Steve Mansour, CEO of construction insurance specialist, CRL see the current financial year:
Currently, we are seeing developers build multitudes of three-bed family homes, in a bid to solve the ever-evolving housing shortage. There has to be a shift this year to fit with demand, which will create more choice in the market, and respond to consumer need. Developers must start recognising this if they are to stay ahead of the game. This shouldn’t mean increased property prices, it should mean a welcome change, one of bespoke or enhanced product offerings for consumers.
There isn’t any doubt that technological advancements have already improved construction and we expect this to expand this year, through processes such as modular building and 3D printing. Expect more virtual reality and augmented reality use, with potential buyers visiting the shell of a virtual house, allowing them to design and configure a truly unique home. This will mean a fit for purpose property, which will hopefully result in purchasers staying in their homes for longer.
2018 must be the year we encourage entrepreneurialism and further innovation in the construction industry and because of this, we expect it to be the year of the SME builder. Not only will they continue to be the backbone of the industry, but we will see their agility and creativity come to the forefront. It seems that Brexit will continue to be a real issue as the year progresses, particularly in terms of recruitment and careers. The UK’s departure from the EU has thrown the issue into sharper focus given the industry’s reliance on overseas labour, meaning the drive to attract and retain talent has never been so vital.
To solve this problem, it is imperative we showcase the true earning potential, creative roles and development paths on offer. As the use of technology becomes widespread in the sector, construction firms should find it easier to attract millennials who thrive on using the latest technology. Whilst it is great to see the industry investing heavily in recruitment and training of young people, these initiatives are ones that must continue to receive attention, if we are to combat the current labour shortage. Overall, the outlook for the industry is bright, but it will have its challenges. The best thing we can do is stay knowledgeable and open to new ideas and ways of working.
We have looked into some of the detail surrounding technology, trends, planning, disruptions, but we must not forget that behind all this there are always people. For this reason, it is important to have professionals prepared for 2018 and for the following years. Not only to hire them, but also retain them. In this sense some tips have been recently published by Select International:
- Create an environment that makes your employees feel like an asset to your company. Don’t make them feel like they’re overheard. Allow them to feel secure in their job. Greet them by name, letting them know that you know who they are and what their contributions are to the company. Get their input about rules or changes that may need to be made. Encourage goal-setting and let them make their own choices as often as possible.
- Make expectations and goals of the company clear. Be sure you have job descriptions so your employees know what is required of them. If there are changes that need to be made, don’t expect them to learn that by osmosis. You must communicate directly and clearly. Good employees want to please you, but they need to know what it is they need to do to make that happen.
- Create an open and honest work environment. Give feedback on work performed and be willing to listen,really listen, to the concerns of your employees. Chance meetings in the hall where social greetings are exchanged are good, but do not take the place of actually sitting down face-to-face and discussing any work-related concerns. Be open and listen to new ideas. Accept suggestions for problem-solving. Be available and open when your employee asks for your guidance. Keep your top talent informed about what is happening with the company – don’t let rumors take over. If there are problems or set-backs, communicate this.
- Provide opportunities to grow and learn, and let your employees know there is room for advancement in your company. Provide tuition for continuing education classes. Give challenging and stimulating work. Tap into their passion and allow them to focus their time and energy on projects they can enjoy. Let them know what career development plans you may have for them and what opportunities are available for them to grow with the company.
- Recognise and reward good work. Monetary bonuses are always nice, but recognition of a job well done goes a long way to creating good will and loyalty. Recognition needs to be specific, for example, “good job” is acceptable, but “good job on the Nelson project” is better. In order to retain talent, you must make them feel appreciated, respected and worthwhile. Recent studies show that when employees feel undervalued and unappreciated, they look for other employment. They need to feel that their contributions to the business are important. But the feedback and praise must be sincere. Top talent is smart enough to know the difference between sincere appreciation and platitudes.
Doka UK Formwork Technologies Ltd.
Boughton Monchelsea, Heath Road, Monchelsea Farm
ME17 4JD Maidstone, Kent