On-the-job safety is important in every work environment, but construction is a whole other ball game. Workers operate equipment designed to lift tons of supplies. Construction workplaces are noisy and oftentimes exposed to the outdoors.
\These are just a few reasons for why onboarding is so important in a construction workplace. New workers need to understand proper safety and operating procedures to ensure the safety of themselves and others while producing quality work within the project timeframe.
Laying a Foundation
There's a reason why companies in all industries, but especially in high compliance fields, provide some type of onboarding for their team members. Now workers should feel like they're part of a community that supports them as they learn about their job. This is why proper training is vital to the success of everyone in a company.
Onboarding needs to lay a foundation that recruits can turn to at any time. This should include job orientation and safety training, but mentoring and an overview of the company's organizational structure should also be included. One way to build this support system is to assign an experienced worker, or a mentor, to new recruits. By including both levels of team members, new recruits are immediately introduced to the company's best practices, while experienced workers can re-familiarize themselves with the safety measures and on-site organization. This helps to continually perfect workers from avoidable accidents.
A study by Pinnacol showed that more than half of workplace injuries involved those that were on the job less than a year, and cost businesses over $60 billion in 2018. Construction workers require training on safety procedures, proper equipment handling, project processes, and more. Having a proper onboarding process ensures all aspects of the job are covered and should give workers the opportunity to communicate with their bosses and co-workers.
Scheduled reviews should be included in every onboarding process, ideally at the 30-day, 60-day, 90-day, six-month, and 12-month mark, if applicable. These regular check-ins help ensure new workers are getting the training they need and are enjoying their jobs. Of course, construction managers should make it clear that workers can approach them at any time with questions or concerns.
Time and Reputation
Construction companies put a lot of time and effort into hiring new employees, and all aspects of the hiring process, from the initial recruitment to on-the-job training, are on the company's dime. When projects begin promptly after winning a bid, there is a very limited amount of time to hire up to hundreds of workers. An automated tool allows new recruits to complete any documentation and to review the company's policies and procedures online before their first day of work. Less time on paperwork means more time on the job, and a prior understanding of safety requirements could help reduce accidents. Losing employees due to accidents or injuries would mean all of the company's investment was for nothing.
Strong onboarding programs can also, by extension, help lower employee turnover rates. Think about it this way: if you heard that Company A had a constant flow of workers leave due to accidents or job dissatisfaction would you want to work there? Or would you rather work for Company B, which has a high employee retention? Construction companies with a long-term workforce are more attractive. After all, workers are staying there for a reason.
Safety and the Future of Construction
The construction industry is facing a challenging future. The industry will need 1.7 million workers by 2020, yet the 2018 AGC Construction Hiring Outlook survey revealed that 411 percent of construction firms are concerned about worker shortages.
Strong onboarding programs can help retain workers and attract new ones. They shouldn't be treated solely as a walk-through of safety procedures. Personal development is vital for keeping construction workers and maintaining the industry as one work building a career in. In other words, onboarding is a long-term commitment for the worker and company. For construction companies that make the effort, their investment in time and money will be well worth it.