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How to Create an OSHA-Approved Safety Incentive Program

Published on May 18, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Steve Damerow

Rule 1: Accept that accidents happen and always report them

Since the Obama administration, OSHA has looked unfavorably on any incentive that promotes not reporting accidents. According to Dr. David Michaels, the assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health, “A company whose incentive program has the potential to discourage worker reporting fails to meet the Voluntary Protection Program (VVP) safety and health management system requirements.” In addition, OSHA inspectors frown upon companies that take disciplinary actions against employees for violating safety rules, or who are injured regardless of fault.

A safety incentive program based upon preventing accidents and reporting observations or near misses, according to OSHA thinking, creates better end results than “perfect” records, because it acknowledges flaws in the safety environment before they become chronic.

Rule 2: Promote a safety-conscious work culture

Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of OSHA, also stated, “…We certainly are not opposed to all incentive programs. On the contrary, a positive incentive program that encourages or rewards workers for serving on safety and health committee (think inclusion), training…, reporting injuries, illness, near-misses or hazards can encourage worker involvement…An incentive program that encourages positive employee involvement is a valuable component…”

Rather than merely recording safety violations and incidents, OSHA places emphasis on keeping employees educated on safety. This prevents future incidents and facilitates a culture of workers who can self-monitor. Incentive program technology has the ability to educate workers through OSHA-compliant training features, and reward them for completing courses or correctly answering quizzes.

Rule 3: Contact the right safety consultant

OSHA is always updating and refining their policies. Contracting outside help to stay up-to-date is critical. A consultant can be responsible for assessing status, issues, goals and key performance indicators; creating and communicating learning and worker feedback; maintaining data; and, finally, working with and advising the reward fulfillment company.

Rule 4: Offer attractive and readily achievable rewards

Workers have to see a quid pro quo for their behavior. Just like any other incentive program, the question is: “What’s in it for them?” Consultants are needed to establish your specific organizational goals. You also need a full-time rewards fulfillment company with the critical mass and resources to supply a robust online rewards shopping mall, such as Incentive Solutions’ multi-functional program, which has a customizable platform offering more than 15 million items, event tickets and real time travel. You wouldn’t change your habits or behavior for a coffee, so why would your workers? New, online reward platforms give your workers vast reward options and an accessible, easy-to-use, familiar interface.

Rule 5: Utilize mobile apps

Smartphone and mobile app usage is prolific in today’s society. Offering a safety program through a mobile app is not merely a trendy accessory: mobile apps are designed to boost engagement. The easier it is for participants to access your program, the more likely they are to use it. Especially for on-the-go workers such as warehouse employees who may not sit in an office for much of their day, mobile apps can greatly encourage participation in your program.

In conclusion: always report safety incidents, contact an expert to create a safety-conscious work culture, don’t try to fulfill the rewards yourself or through your promo product distributor, and take advantage of today’s user-friendly technology.

Steve Damerow (pictured to the left) is CEO of Incentive Solutions. He is a recognized expert and published author, and hosts the national radio show “Business Matters.” Incentive Solutions currently manages more than 100 incentive loyalty programs within the HVAC/plumbing/construction industries. He can be reached at sdamerow@isicorporate.com and 678-514-0203.

 

 

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.


 
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The Evolution of Home Building: 1900 to Today

Published on May 17, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Brian Wilkins

The average length of time to build a single-family home, from obtaining the permit to laying out the welcome mat, is seven months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s longer than the six months it took to build a house in 1973,  but less than the 7.9 months it took in 2009 after the market collapsed. To add some perspective, it took only 410 days to build the Empire State Building from start to finish in 1931.

Everything from technology to the demographics of buyers has changed the way homes have been built over the past century. Americans have also become obsessed with size. The average three-bedroom home built in the 1960s had about 1,200 square feet of living space. That would be considered a shack compared to the “McMansions” constructed during the pre-2008 housing bubble that were twice that size.

The evolution of home construction is also a product of better materials and schematics. Here we explore some of the most notable.

Post-Antebellum

The turn of the century saw amenities like indoor plumbing and heat become more mainstream. To compensate for the increased costs that accompanied installation, the size of a typical home shrank to about 700 square feet. Lot sizes were also reduced in the early 20th century so rows of houses could be built.

Homes gradually became places strictly for dwelling, sleeping, and recreation. Americans were no longer making their own clothes and food at their homes—they had become consumers instead of producers, so the extra space was unnecessary. It was not until the 1940s that bedrooms were regularly built into homes. Before that, there was little privacy for average people, as most beds stood up against walls of one-room homes when not in use.

In her book ”American Home Life 1880-1930: A Social History of Space and Service,” Candace Volz said electricity and central heat completely altered floor plans and made homes social spaces to invite others. Window air conditioners became available in the 1930s, but cost the equivalent of about $120,000 today; units became much cheaper after World War II, then were overtaken by central air in the 1970s.

Materials Revolution

The first American settlers built log cabins because wood was the most readily-available material for home construction. It was soon discovered that insects, animals, and weather made them impractical for long-term use.

Air conditioning made Southwest cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas bearable,with  both experiencing exponential population growth in the 1950s. Homes were mass produced with stucco exterior walls, the cheap, low-maintenance cement plaster that effectively resists heat and dry conditions.

Roof construction across the country also evolved with better materials. Wood shingles were around for centuries, but were highly combustible and impractical. Today, there are a wide variety of shingles from which to choose. Champion Comfort 365 roofs come with leak barriers and roof deck protection, so not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but great for all climates and conditions. Stone shingles are expensive, but last for centuries. Metal shingles are the most fire-resistant of them all.

Drywall and Copper

Sheetrock, also known as drywall, replaced plaster as the primary material for interior walls in the 1960s. It’s cheap, easy to install, and doesn’t crack as easily as plaster. Builders experimented with polybutylene pipes 50 years ago, but soon discovered copper and PVC were far more durable and reliable.

It’s difficult to predict how home construction will evolve over the next 100 years. As 3D technology becomes more mainstream and affordable, perhaps 3D-printed homes will become the new building trend.

Brian Wilkins is a small business owner and freelance writer.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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What the Internet of Things Means for Field Service

Published on May 14, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Aleksandr Peterson

The so-called “internet of things” (IoT) is one of the biggest IT sensations in recent history — partly because of its futuristic mystique and partly because of its practical implications for business, which are further-reaching than some may have expected.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the global IoT is comprised of 25 billion devices and expected to reach 50 billion by 2020. The biggest question for most industries is about value-add. What does my team, my organization, or my industry stand to gain from a vast network of connected devices that exchange information about performance and use?

Gartner says the overall economic gains could add up to $1.9 trillion, with the highest growth seen in manufacturing, healthcare, and insurance, but a large part of the IoT conversation has settled around the field service industry, likely because it’s closely tied to physical asset maintenance (e.g. appliances, utility meters, vehicles, equipment), and these assets could theoretically be connected to other devices and management systems. But the phrase, “internet of things” is so all-encompassing that it’s hard to fathom how, precisely, field service will be affected, much less how it can use IoT for strategic advantage.

Practical Implications

IoT will probably catch on for consumers, which means service providers can market “smart” systems for home automation—smart lighting, smart security, smart thermostats—and further bridge the gap between their product and service offerings. But even if it doesn’t, there are some concrete ways service companies can use IoT technology to improve their field operations.

Many of these are being used by competitive companies in conjunction with the best field service management software. Here are four areas to consider:

Preventative maintenance: The best way to minimize asset failure is to solve problems before they happen. Using embedded sensors and a remote monitoring system, your equipment, machinery, vehicles, etc. can discern and communicate early warning signs based on heat, pressure, flow, voltage, etc. You can then dispatch a technician to address the vulnerability before it causes larger issues. This can also lead to a lower cost of asset ownership, in cases where proprietary equipment is being leased to a client.

Faster response times: Without automated monitoring, issue detection is left to human perception, which is slower to respond. For example, you only realize your A/C unit is out when your house or office turns into a sauna. If that A/C unit were connected to a computerized maintenance management system, it could have sent a low freon alert to the provider and been serviced preemptively.

Better fleet management: If you’re a fleet-focused service company (e.g. utilities, telecommunications, public sector transportation service), you can use telematics embedded in vehicles or mobile devices to track driver location in real time and make better job assignment or rerouting decisions.

Less unnecessary trips: If you can pinpoint problems remotely, you can decide what each job will require and which technician has the right skillset to do the work. This can be especially useful in situations where equipment is remotely stationed or difficult to access, like the lightbulb at the top of a 1,500-foot wireless tower.

Some say the IoT is bound to become an integral part of the way people work and live in not-so-distant future; others shrug it off as a fad. But what primarily concerns the field service industry is not commercial viability of IoT technology, but its usefulness. In that sense, service companies stand to gain quite a lot: faster, smarter service, less mistakes, and less downtime.

Aleksandr Peterson is a technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. He covers marketing automation, CRMs, project management, and other emerging business technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 

 
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Considerations of Solar Energy for Construction Executives

Published on May 13, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Dane O’Leary

The construction industry is busy, fast-paced, and sometimes even a little hectic. Projects are frequently spread out over an entire region with company resources divided according to project size and priority. As many clients tend to anxious for access to their new or renovated space, there can be pressure among executives to ensure that projects remain on schedule and have everything needed for timely completion.

With larger construction projects requiring crews to work at a single site for months and even years at a time, solar energy provides a renewable, sustainable source of energy for many of the project needs. Rather than paying for electricity via the local power grid or sourcing energy through the consumption of expensive fuels, energy from the sun is free, widely available, and solar power equipment could be relocated when a crew finishes one project and begins a new one at a different location.

 

Cost Versus Savings

One of the primary selling points for residential solar energy is the potential for long-term savings, specifically by either reducing or eliminating consumption of grid-based electricity and fossil fuels. It’s estimated that the average homeowner pays roughly $170 each month in home energy costs, but could save $1,000 annually by installing a solar energy system. However, the savings potential is even higher when solar energy is used commercially.

The drawback is that for solar energy to save a company money, that company must first spend money to be able to harness that solar energy. Construction companies have a particularly high energy consumption for several reasons; they often have a large office space — and it’s not uncommon for a company to have more than one — as well as having to supply a number of construction sites with the manpower, tools and energy required to complete a project.

Additionally, new structures — both commercial and residential — are incorporating solar energy systems at higher rates than ever before, which makes it possible for crews to harness solar energy using the solar energy systems they will be installing.

 

Green Business

While energy savings is always a main consideration, the fact that solar energy has no direct negative effect on the environment is another of the reasons why many companies are choosing to go solar. The only negative impact attributable to solar energy comes from the production, distribution and installation of solar photovoltaic panels rather than the panels themselves; however, construction companies using solar energy are doing their part to negate the incidental effect that solar has on the environment.

Additionally, construction companies that use solar energy have a substantial reduction of greenhouse emissions and a significantly smaller carbon footprint, which allows them to advertise their efforts to reduce dependence on foreign oil and to battle global warming.

Dane O’Leary is a design blogger for Modernize.com. He has degrees in psychology and anthropology with additional study in journalism, graphic design, and public relations. Dane is currently working on his debut novel.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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Best Innovations in Construction: Changes in the Way We Build

Published on May 12, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Jayme Cook

The construction industry has borne witness to giant waves of change in the past 10 years. The building game has become more strategic, more technology-focused and more environmentally sound. To stay on the playing field, industry veterans must evolve and embrace the new trends appearing in the field, like Building Information Modeling (BIM), lean design and construction and innovative products to meet the demands of modern clientele.

BIM

We’ve all heard of BIM, but the practice is growing from a trend to an industry standard. A recent poll showed of some of the biggest U.S. engineering and design firms confirmed that 83 percent of them have at least one in-house BIM seat license, and 50 percent of them have at least 30 seats.

The BIM process centers around a 3-D model of the project at hand, accompanied by integrated designs and cost and materials estimates. The beauty of BIM is that it encourages a holistic approach to building and can be integrated to analyze engineering factors like energy usage, lighting and acoustics. This information can then be used to provide feedback while designing. This process allows designers and engineers to observe the potential effects of any changes they want to implement to the design, helping to develop alternatives as they go in a streamlined process.

Lean

The lean business philosophy was developed by Toyota as a means of maximizing production, value and quality while minimizing waste. Naturally, in an industry like construction where waste is a constant business concern, the idea has gained significant ground and has been widely implemented in construction planning.

Lean design production systems have shifted the focus of how construction is conducted, and promote prefabrication and off-site fabrication as a means of eliminating redundancies and waste. Like BIM, Lean aims to involve 3D modelling to bring together multiple stakeholders and workers in the design and construction of projects in order to improve communication and eliminate human error. Lean design develops a personalized work package, which offers a detail-level breakdown and description of the construction work, along with a time schedule for the project foreman and crew. The goal is to stay on time and on budget.

Products

Many manufacturers are making significant strides in production to meet the demands of these construction trends in the residential and commercial markets. In residential building, there are new products like Liquid Injection Molding (LIM) for housing seals that are virtually flash-free, and seals in complex shapes with color-matching options.

There are also a slew of products designed to make design and site management more efficient, like the AxisPointe InSite Mobile, which assists builders in producing more energy-efficient homes by allowing users to track a project’s production schedule, utilize customized checkpoints, and confirm proper installation building components.

Like all aspects of the modern business world, the construction industry is changing. Gone are the days of blueprints dotted with coffee mug stains. They’ve been replaced with virtual modeling. Gone are the days of inferior products. Specialized, evolved materials and technology have allowed us to better meet our project needs. The waves of construction industry progress are crashing down on us. It’s time to sink or swim.

Jayme Cook is a writer, English professor, and fanatical reader living in Arizona.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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How Healthy is Your Business?

Published on May 8, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Kim Morrison

To make sure your business is in top shape for the rigors of the summer remodeling season, industry veteran and NKBA University Instructor Kim Morrison CKD, CBD, NCIDQ, ASID, IIDA, IDEC, advises keeping these vital signs in check:

1.    Keep a strong pulse on your finances

Knowing exactly where your business stands fiscally enables you to make smart decisions when it comes to growth and expansion. Commit to updating your P&L statement each month and do a solid review each quarter with your team to stay on track with your goals. If this is a chore you dread and avoid, see a specialist (like an accountant) regularly to make sure your business stays healthy and well out of the red.

2.    Flex your management team

A solid management team empowers business owners and senior managers to work at their full potential. You may have started as a sole proprietorship, but you don’t have to (and shouldn’t!) do it alone. Motivate your management team by communicating how their work directly affects the overall health of the business, and assign more responsibility as they demonstrate competency. You may find they feel more empowered and committed to the success of your business.

3.    Look at your business plan as your backbone

Like your P&L statement, your business plan is a living, breathing document. Revisit it quarterly or every six months and make revisions as needed to stay on track to achieve long-term goals and to stay on strategy. This will not only help make growth goals a reality, but provides an opportunity to bring key players from your business together so everyone is on the same page with deliverables and action plans required.

4.    Check your hearing

Your employees are your business’ brain trust and their insights can prove invaluable when it comes to improving daily operations that can impact profitability. Are you listening to them? Good business owners know solid internal communication begets success, so develop a healthy mix of formal meetings and casual touch-points so direct reports can give status updates. Sharing knowledge consistently not only helps prevent a major “illness,” it manifests externally in the service and experience you provide your clients.

Kim Morrison (pictured) is a certified kitchen and bath designer, as well as a certified interior designer with over 30 years of experience in the field. Currently, she is the interior design program coordinator for The Art Institute of York Pennsylvania overseeing the development and implementation of curriculum relevant to the interior design and kitchen and bath fields. 

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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Sustainable Supply Chain Highlights the Value of Strategic Relationships

Published on May 4, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By David Nour

In an article in the March/April 2015 issue of Construction Today, Adrian Pye described four practices that make supply chains more sustainable in terms of their environmental impact. I submit that treating supply chain members as valued business partners achieves sustainability not just in the narrow environmental sense, but in broader business terms as well.

Pye points out that transportation of materials by rail or waterway is more efficient than trucking. Now consider the corollary among your supply chain partners. How can you make these relationships more friction-free? Communication and collaboration are two logical places to start. Treat suppliers as subject matter experts with a stake in your mutual outcomes.

Pye suggests construction firms reduce environmental impact by avoiding disturbance to the natural ecosystem at project sites. Supply chains exist in ecosystems as well — groups of companies that already work together well. Leverage these existing relationships to increase the sustainability of your supply chain.

Pye calls for choosing products that are sustainably sourced and highly durable. The same attributes are valuable in supply chain partners. “Sustainably-sourced” strategic relationships come from referrals. We are all essentially hubs and spokes in a vast network of relationships. Within your supply chain ecosystem, can you find ways to connect what I call “seekers and solvers”?  In every conversation with a supplier, find ways to discover, “What frustrates you? What do you need help with?” In other words, is this relationship a “seeker”? Then consider who in your network could step into the position of “solver” by delivering the needed value. You increase the durability of your relationships each time you help solve someone’s problem.

Pye concludes his article with a call to collaborate with your peers. Whether you find your peers by tapping the local community of supplier companies, or attending supply chain conferences for the focused content and community you’ll find there, placing yourself among peers exposes you to new supply chain ecosystems, perspectives, and potential relationships.

The construction industry is now deep into educating, adopting and accelerating growth via the sustainable practices called for by the green building trend. The environmentally responsible supply chain this trend demands will be built on a foundation of strategic relationships. Your suppliers aren’t just vendors—they are your partners in your business.

Takeaways

1. Reduce friction in supply chain relationships with increased communication and invitations to collaborate.

2. Find supply chain “ecosystems” where companies are already adept at doing business together

3. Seek ways to connect seekers and solvers to “sustainably source” new supplier relationships and increase the durability of existing ones.

David Nour is an enterprise growth strategist and the thought leader on Relationship Economics® —the quantifiable value of business relationships. He is the author of several books including the best selling “Relationship Economics— Revised” (Wiley), “ConnectAbility” (McGraw-Hill), “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Raising Capital” (Praeger) and “Return on Impact—Leadership Strategies for the age of Connected Relationships” (ASAE). Learn more at www.NourGroup.com. David may be reached at dnour@nourgroup.com.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.


 

 
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Bamboo Lays the Ground Floor of a Sustainable Future

Published on April 27, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Alexander Ruggie

50 million years ago Bamboo evolved from grass to become one of the most versatile plants in existence today. Bamboo grows extremely quickly, it’s sustainable and it can be used for a huge number of different purposes. From a tasty addition to salad to replacing your wood floor, bamboo is quickly becoming a go-to solution for earth conscious home buyers everywhere and builders are starting to take notice. Bamboo can grow all over the planet, which means that construction companies can source it locally proving that it is one of the best tools in our arsenal to combat climate change. Bamboo may be a plant from the ancient past, but it’s also going to be an integral part of our future.

What’s So Great About Bamboo

Bamboo is one of the greenest technologies we have today and we didn’t even create it. The only thing keeping bamboo from replacing plastic as the main source of all our goods is the lack of infrastructure to fully utilize it. It grows at an astonishing rate and in some parts of the world it flourishes so rapidly you can almost watch it grow. This means it can be quickly planted and harvested sustainably for local builders to take advantage of in any home they are working on. Bamboo can be compressed, formed, molded and to anyone’s desired shape, texture or color preference. It has a remarkable tensile strength too which means that it can sustainably replace everything from the flooring to the cabinets, to the 2×4 joists that hold the whole house up. Essentially this one ancient plant has been underutilized and underappreciated for nearly its entire existence. But that’s changing rapidly.

Bamboo for New Homes, or Remodels.

Homeowners who want to be eco-friendly and environmentally conscious have a number of options to incorporate bamboo into their homes without having to make drastic changes. Here are a few ways to add some bamboo into a home that look great and save the planet:

  • Cabinets – bamboo has a unique look that other woods can’t achieve.
  • Flooring – a durable, easy to clean solution for flooring in all rooms.
  • Joists – with compressed and treated bamboo your entire home can be supported by it.
  • Wainscot – increase the beauty of a boring wall with bamboo in raw or painted wainscot.

Bamboo has previously been seen as a poor material for construction purposes because of its hollow interior and susceptibility to UV light, but as technology improves so does the ability of bamboo to overcome these barriers to mass production. There are a number of companies that are taking the raw form of bamboo and altering it with matrices of other fibrous renewable materials to enhance the natural qualities of the plant and reduce or even completely eliminate its drawbacks. Builders who utilize the qualities of bamboo are taking advantage of a growing trend in green technology that not only benefits their bottom line with cheaper, locally sourced materials, but also when home buyers look for projects that have been produced sustainably. It won’t be long before entire homes are made with this wonder material, and builders who get in on this trend now will no doubt grow quicker than the bamboo ground floors it started from.

Alexander Ruggie is the PR Director for 911 Restoration, and he has been in the advertising, marketing and entertainment industries for more than a decade. When he isn’t crafting strategies and campaigns to help homeowners in need, he is trying to save the world, one well-worded idea at a time.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 

 
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How Will The Looming Skilled Labor Shortage Impact Your Region?

Published on April 16, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Dustin Rohrbach

As the U.S. economy continues to grow, there are signs that a skilled labor shortage in the construction industry may threaten projected growth and the ongoing recovery.

In recent months, many reports have shown that construction hiring is up, but the majority of those jobs are for general laborers. Construction has changed in that it requires more skilled workers than in the past.  The toughest sector of the workforce for construction and developer employers to staff is the skilled trades – the welders, electricians, etc. The main reason for this lack of skilled workers is the gap between the skills that employers need and available workers possess. It also touches on the fact that American high schools have moved their emphasis to prepping young people for universities rather than vocational schools.

For the past couple of generations, the focus has been to go to college to obtain a degree to guarantee a brighter future with a better, non-blue collar job. We started focusing on academic instruction, but left behind the notion of work-force education. However, in a two-year school that costs less, the average work-force student can graduate with skills to gain direct employment. The need is great and will have a direct effect on construction plans around the country in the coming years.

The Effects on Our Economy                                                                                                             

Large projects are in the works in nearly every metropolitan area and most will require skilled workers to bring them to completion. Without accomplished personnel, construction firms will offer slower schedules for vital projects, slowing the speed of economic development. As these commercial projects slow down, the jobs that follow will also be delayed. Shorthanded firms may be hesitant to bid on new projects understanding they lack the manpower to complete the work on schedule. With fewer bidders competing for work, owners are likely to spend more for the projects. As construction projects become more expensive, additional financing or a reduced scope will play into the final outcome.

The Solution?                                                                                                                               

New career and technical school programs are critical to solving the shortages. This would come in the form of increased support of career education as well as modifications to legislation regarding vocational education program funding.

 

But more immediately:

  • Hire construction partners that employ skilled workers year round. Some firms hire for need and don’t always have access to skilled workers.
  • Select general contractors that employ regular training for their workforce to keep skills up-to-date and cross-train workers.
  • Support the efforts to increase career/technical education. This could mean getting involved with national organizations or even reaching out to a local vocational school.

Don’t get bogged down by the challenges presented with the labor shortage. The construction industry has always weathered labor issues and this one will be no different. These jobs pay well, will be available for years to come and will draw a new generation of talented employees to our profession.

Dustin Rohrbach (left) is vice president in charge of the Columbus office of Danis Building Construction.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com. 

 
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To Recruit Millennials, Understand Them as Customers

Published on April 13, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By David Nour

In the January issue of Construction Today, Anne Edwards-Cotter challenged our industry to reach out to young people and introduce them to careers in construction. I submit the place to begin is to understand them as customers before approaching them as future employees.

Understand the Millennial Mindset

Millennials don’t buy — or buy in — like previous generations did. For that reason we must deeply understand the Millennial mindset. Your survival depends on catering to the next generation, whose buying experience is driven by three factors:

  1. Brand affinity: Facts and attributes they discover in the news and social media.
  2. Marketing campaigns: Advertising, marketing, and sponsorships that reinforce the brand affinity.
  3. Value proposition: Pain relievers or gain creators deliverED through products and services.

Millennials are technology-dependent. They expect realtime access 24/7. They are accustomed to to customizING their experiences and purchases. Millennials are asking: Is your offering designed around how I roll? Are you accessible? Will you simplify my life? Your future depends on optimizing your construction-industry business to meet Millennials’ expectations.

The Customer Journey Is an Infinite Loop

Fundamentally, customers pass through six stages in an infinite loop. First comes awareness, typically through recommendations, and some sort of online search. That leads to discovery, resulting in a list of options. Then buyers go through evaluation: Given who I am, my past experiences, my current circumstances, my future aspirations, which of these options is best?

This journey leads to a purchase, which in turn leads to usage. As purchasers use the solution, they also come back to evaluation. Either, “that failed, try again,” or “Okay, what do I need next to enhance my experience?” Like the infinity symbol, they keep tracing a loop leading to purchase, followed by a loop leading to wanting more, with  the evaluation at the center of the journey. If and when all this goes well, then buyers share those positive sentiments with others. And that is the key to igniting passion for the construction industry in the Millennial generation.

Embracing Construction Careers

What do Millennials need to know, feel, or experience to embrace construction careers? The answer rests on the buying experience. You have to create experiences that lead to brand affinity: “Hey, this is a really cool, look at the stuff I can do in construction!” Market with on-site recruiting trips to high schools, and informal or formal mentoring programs. Design a value proposition that reflects the pain relievers or gain creators of tomorrow’s job seekers. These three factors give Millennials a new lens to perceive what they could accomplish, a glimpse into how construction could fit their career aspirations.

Our challenge is fundamentally to sell individuals on great careers in the construction industry; to succeed we must understand our buyers. When we prepare for Millennials as customers we’ll find it much easier to develop them as our future workforce.

Takeaways

1. Optimize your construction industry company for Millennials as customers before approaching them as future employees.

2. The customer journey is an infinite loop of awareness, discovery, evaluation, purchase, usage, and again, evaluation. Create outstanding loops to ignite Millennials’ passion for the construction industry.

3. Millennials will more readily buy into construction careers when the brand, marketing, and value proposition of the industry meets their mindset.

David Nour is an enterprise growth strategist and the thought leader on Relationship Economics® —the quantifiable value of business relationships. He is the author of several books including the best selling “Relationship Economics— Revised” (Wiley), “ConnectAbility” (McGraw-Hill), “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Raising Capital” (Praeger) and “Return on Impact — Leadership Strategies for the age of Connected Relationships” (ASAE). Learn more at www.NourGroup.com. David may be reached at dnour@nourgroup.com.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 
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