Tired construction workers

10 Ways to Avoid Peak Construction Season Burnout

It’s the peak of bridge construction season. Your team has been at it since early spring, and it’s likely they’ll continue working at this pace until winter arrives.

This is the time of year when you or your construction crew is likely to:

  • Become complacent and less focused on safety issues
  • Lose motivation
  • Become less productive than earlier in the season

Here are 10 things you can do right now to keep your workforce alert, focused, safe, motivated, and productive during the second half of bridge construction season.

#1 – Lead by example

Construction manager leading his team

Without strong leadership, your efforts will never yield the results you’re looking for. Our #1 tip is to be a passionate leader – exuding the traits you’d like to see in your team. Lead with passion and conviction. It’s contagious.

Check out these 6 tips for leading by example from entrepreneur.com.

#2 – Conduct short, impactful safety reviews

Accidents are more likely to happen when people have been doing the same task day after day for months on end. In fact, a recent study found that almost half of mistakes attributed to human error can be explained by stress, repetition, and fatigue in the work environment.

Regular safety reviews will keep staying safe top of mind for your workforce. A good benchmark is to talk about this topic every four to six weeks. Make these discussions a part of regular team meetings.

These talks don’t need to be lengthy. In fact, shorter, more impactful sessions that happen often are generally more effective.

Cover a single topic in each discussion or offer tips on a wide range of topics. Either is a good way to remind employees that safety is number one on your bridge construction sites.

OSHA offers tips and ideas on safety topics you can talk about.

#3 – Recognize employee performance

employee of the month

Work with your team to develop and maintain an employee of the month or similar recognition program. Use it to honor crew members for individual accomplishments related to safety, productivity, attendance, and more.

Install a photo board in a prominent location to display photos of employees who have been recognized, or share the news on your workplace intranet site. Always make it clear what employees did to earn the recognition. This will encourage others to do the same.

Check out these tips from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on how you can take your employee recognition program to the next level.

Tip: Get a gift card to a local coffee shop, food truck, or online store a part of your employee recognition program.  A meaningful gift, even a small one, will generate excitement and employees will feel valued.

#4 – Offer a bonus

Nothing motivates people like the opportunity to earn some extra cash.

Similar to employee recognition programs, the reason for awarding bonuses should be clearly defined and tied to goals you want your team to achieve. It could be related to anything from how much asphalt is laid down, cable strung, or utility lines secured in a given period of time. You can also award bonuses for achieving safety goals, such as making it through a defined period without an incident.

The bonus can be paid to individuals for achieving personal goals, on a team basis, or both. Just make sure any goals you set fall within reasonable safety parameters. Don’t push your workers to achieve performance levels that could lead to accidents.

Forbes offers eight tips on how to develop an ideal bonus program.

#5 – Celebrate success

construction workers celebrating success

When things get busy, it’s easy to forget to celebrate success.

Make it a point to take your team out after work every now and then, buy them lunch, bring coffee and donuts into the breakroom, or invite them over for a cook-out. These are cost-effective ways to show them that you recognize they’re doing a great job.

Tip: A simple, hand-written note is another low-cost way to honor good performance. Few people receive personal notes these days. Taking a few minutes to put your thoughts on paper will definitely stand out.

#6 – Add inspections

Late in the construction season, it’s a smart idea to add to your inspection program. Having an extra set of eyes on the work getting done may cost you a little extra, but it will help keep your workplace safe, ensure work is being done correctly, and prevent accidents.

Find out how using the right equipment can make doing bridge inspections faster, easier, and more effective.

Tip: Don’t make these inspections seem threatening to your crew. Present them as a plus, designed to help keep people safe and avoid more labor in the long run.

#7 – Offer opportunities for growth

job growth

You’d be surprised how many people jump at the chance to progress their professional skillset. If you have employees looking to expand their knowledge for future opportunities, this is a good time of year to give them something new to do. Training them to do a new task will keep them fresh, alert, and engaged in their work. Plus, they’ll have the second half of the construction season to apply their new knowledge on the job.

Cross-training employees is never wasted time. You never know when you might need their skillset to fill an immediate need.

#8 – Be flexible

Some employees call in sick this time of year because of burnout; they’re tired of doing their jobs and need to get away. There are also other important reasons for doing so. It’s the start of the school year, after all, and many people could have shifting childcare responsibilities.

If someone asks for time off, find out why they need it. Then offer your support if it’s for a good reason. Doing this will pay off with a more dedicated workforce.

#9 – Recognize milestones

project milestone

Building bridges is generally not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Find ways to mark, document, and communicate progress in a prominent location.

Create a timeline in the break room and use it to mark off significant milestones toward completion. Develop an online photo site that documents progress toward completion of the bridge.

This will help your crew understand that their work has a meaningful impact, which can be hard to see when you do the same tasks every day for a long period of time.

#10 – Get feedback

Employees lose motivation when they feel they’re not being listened to and heard. The things they have to say could benefit you, your construction process, and your firm.

This could include ideas on how to improve processes they find frustrating, new equipment that could make doing their jobs easier, or safety procedures.

Keep your “door open” and provide a suggestion box in the break room or create an online forum. Do whatever it takes to make sure you hear — and respond to — employee ideas. Even incremental improvements will improve employee morale and performance in a big way.

Tip: Get professional support if your employees make recommendations about new processes or requests for new equipment. It can make it easier to get access to the things you need to do the job right.

You’re entering the home stretch of bridge construction season. This is the ideal time to motivate employees so you can end the season on a high note. You don’t have to take on everything at once. One simple change could make all the difference.