Follow the trend lines, not the headlines
As we emerge out of the COVID-19 pandemic, let us narrow in on culture. Various studies suggests that at the height of the crisis more than a third of all employers were facing difficulties with company culture. That trend continues today as global forces have changed the way businesses operate. Let us narrow in specifically on construction, which has long been an industry focused on getting the job done. Productivity—along with quality—have long been central to the construction industry’s core values. In the past few decades safety has emerged on the list of cultural values that is often common across the industry. In 2021, we are seeing four big areas ramping up that could impact culture in construction in the decades to come.
Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are on the radar of many construction companies—so much so a cultural shift is beginning to happen in the industry. In U.S.A: with Black comprising just 6% of the workforce in construction, which has remained relatively unchanged. Meanwhile, the U.S. BLS suggests the needle is moving very slowly for women in construction, with women making up about 10% of the construction workforce in 2019.
The good news is many recognize the need for DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiatives. In the supply chain, more than half of the organizations have an objective or goal to improve DEI, while a quarter have formal targets. As the labour shortage rages on, a cultural shift in diversity and inclusion might help find the talent needed—while also bringing new perspective and ideas to the table as well.
Sustainability and Climate
Focusing on sustainability, environmental mitigation, and addressing climate change has been on the radar of the construction industry for a little bit of time, but now we are seeing a cultural shift emerging in the industry—so much so Smedley wrote a book on it.
Construction companies recognize there is inherent value—both in terms of profit and being a good steward of the environment—to being more sustainable. Consider what plethora of construction companies are doing. In sustainable infrastructure and expand their sustainability services, enabling clients to manage climate risk, decarbonize construction and operations, protect water resources, realize a circular economy, and eliminate harmful environmental and societal impacts.
Many construction companies are taking steps to improve sustainability. Here is the challenge: Transforming the building sector to be more sustainable requires a skilled and knowledgeable workforce, which leads into the next big cultural shift coming to construction: the workforce.
Focus on Employees
Are you building your company culture with millennials in mind? How about generation Z—or the screeners as Smedley calls them? If not, you should be taking these younger generations in mind, as they will play a big role in determining how work will look in the future.
We know the labour market is impacting both home buying trends and what future cities and offices will look like, but it is also impacting what the industry will look like. Younger workers want specific types of work—and with a labour shortage—we need to identify how to tailor jobs to this new way of working. This will be a huge cultural shift in the construction industry.
Digital transformation is here. This is the fourth cultural shift that has been coming to construction for more than a decade—and the pandemic has shifted this into high gear. For those that do not already have a culture built on innovation, now is the time. These are four of the biggest cultural changes currently underway in construction.
What would you add to the list? How are you engaging in creating a culture that serves your business, your clients, and your employees well? Perhaps there is no better time to answer these questions than now, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger and more focused.