While many parts of the country consider construction an essential service, it’s still critically important that workers who remain on the job practice social distancing at all times. So how can management help team members stay motivated and maintain safe communication while remaining six feet apart? Here are some important steps:
- Recognize the importance of your work: An essential service means it’s just that — essential. Your crew is playing a vital role in society, and you should remind them of that. Adjusting to new on-the-job restrictions will be a lot easier if everyone shares a sense of pride in what they’re doing.
- Be flexible with scheduling: Many of your workers may be dealing with children who are out of school or spouses who need additional support. Being more accommodating with scheduling requests will mean less stress at home for these team members, which will in turn make them more present and productive when they’re on the job.
- Make employee morale a part of your contingency plan: Too often, contingency planning focuses exclusively on business continuity without looking at the human aspect — the toll it takes on workers to stay running during an emergency. In a time of crisis, morale should be codified in your emergency planning as a key business goal.
- Make sure your crew has the resources they need: The practical impact of social distancing on a construction site is that some jobs will be a lot harder and potentially more dangerous. If it’s no longer possible to have two workers up on a lift, for example, make sure the one worker who goes up has the right tools and protective equipment to work safely and effectively.
- Check in often and encourage people to seek support: Mental health isn’t something we talk about often in the construction industry, but in these unprecedented times, there’s more reason than ever to change that. Your crew members may be stressed, anxious or lonely, and something as simple as a show of concern can go a long way when a person needs help.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
To be an effective leader, you need to be physically and mentally healthy too. Lead by example, following social distancing rules both on and off the job. Step away if you get too stressed. Take a walk — off the job site if possible — and do your best to maintain clarity, confidence and compassion as you and your crew navigate the weeks and months ahead.