Clemson University’s Department of Construction Science and Management recently found that the average construction craft worker was only 40 percent productive – in other words, crew members were performing actual work related to their assigned tasks only 40 percent of the time. The rest of their time was spent on nonproductive activities such as administrative delays (waiting for materials, equipment or instructions), inefficient work methods, work restrictions, or personal time.
It is important that you measure and analyze productivity regularly and repeatedly, so you can identify trends before a job is completed, while there is still time to make a difference.
Begin by establishing a program to monitor work processes, analyze results and make improvements. Assign this to your most experienced supervisors, and let your crews know the purpose is not simply to look for mistakes or wasted time, but to develop smarter and more efficient ways of doing things. In particular, be alert for opportunities to:
- Reduce administrative delays. Make sure the right type and number of tools, equipment and materials are available when needed. Take time for weekly planning and reassign workers when delays occur.
- Correct inefficient work methods. Focus on standardizing as many processes as possible, prefabricating components whenever practical, and re-evaluating the way work is sequenced and how tools and equipment are used.
- Reassign equipment, crews and supervisors. Determine the effectiveness of project managers and site supervisors by comparing their crews’ actual productivity to estimated productivity, and reassign jobs for maximum performance.
- Limit work restrictions. Devote more resources to weekly job and personnel planning. Preplan as many activities as possible, and provide on-the-job training and jobsite safety programs.
- Cut down on personal time. Make sure supervisors are present at key times during the day, and monitor and assess worker activity on a regular basis.
Open communication is essential. It is critical that the workers themselves are aware of the observation and activity sampling process, and that they understand why it’s being done – this is not just an attempt to catch people “goofing off” or making mistakes. Attempting to conduct observations or activity sampling without employees’ knowledge and input will definitely hurt worker morale and have a negative impact on productivity – which is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
Click here for more information, or contact a member of the Barnes Dennig Construction/Real Estate Client Service Team at (513) 241-8313.