Construction Workforce Management: a Critical Tool to Increase Safety and Productivity in the Field

Bryant Black

Director, Workforce Development
Greater Houston Partnership

Construction workforce management is so much more than just scheduling the crews to show up at the job. It is knowing your bench strength and leveraging it to produce better outcomes through people who are safer, more engaged, and highly productive.

With the introduction of many pieces of software to support construction management digitally, you can become more innovative and appeal to the next generation of construction professionals.

3 Key Steps to Optimize Construction Workforce Management

Like any good sports coach or general manager, you need to know your people, the game you are playing, and how to assemble a skilled roster to win the game. Find out how to strategically support workforce management for construction projects.

1. Know Your Bench

Knowing your bench is a sports term that indicates you have skills that are not currently playing but are available as you need them. For a coach or a project executive to best utilize their roster of available workers, they have to have access to and fully understand two pieces of data:

  1. The skills possessed by each player (i.e. craft professional, estimator, project superintendent).
  2. The opponent’s game plan (i.e. project timeline, risks, outcomes, and expectations of the other trades and General Contractor).
  3. Understanding the players and the playing field will provide a baseline assessment to optimize your workforce.

2. Identify Skills

​When you are setting up a “game” or project plan, you must understand the unique set of skills you need to accomplish the goal (win the game).

For construction teams, this means understanding the skills necessary to bid the job, prepare for the job, complete the job, and be able to service the job while moving to the next one.
Three steps can help you quickly identify the skills necessary and capture who has the competency to provide them:

  • Identify what the skill is.
  • Determine what mastery of that skill looks like.
  • Create an assessment to prove the level of mastery.

Once you have completed these steps, you can capture the mastered skills in a central location.

3. Create a Game Plan

Starting with bidding and estimating the project, it’s critical to have a game plan in place to arrive at ultimate project success.

Consider using a resource allocation strategy that has estimators working in real-time with project superintendents that will be moving to projects as they are won. This step will allow the team to more accurately understand the potential for risk and mitigate it at the onset.

When the team is planned based on the type of work to be completed and their level of mastery of the work to be performed, you end up with a better project.

Get Innovative and Go Digital Managing the Workforce
In the long run, the more your teams work together and can make decisions quickly through digital tools and innovative methodologies, the better the quality and productivity of the workforce.

As we move into the next generation of high-tech workers arriving on our project job sites, it will be imperative to manage them with flexible, digital products. But even more so is the need for them to be well-trained in all aspects of the job.

When reviewing your capabilities around construction workforce management, find the answer to these two questions:

  • Is your quality or productivity slipping?
  • Are you in need of an innovative way to manage your construction workforce?

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