Managing a Diverse Workforce

Managing a Diverse Workforce

07th January 2015

Any construction project will inevitably involve having a range of tradespeople and labourers on site simultaneously. Subcontractors will directly employ some while others may be self-employed; the salaries and wages paid will be equally wide ranging and terms of employment and pay structures will vary considerably. The project manager must manage this diverse collection of workers and is likely to be called upon to settle disagreements between them. The PM must ensure that all employees are on site when expected and that mandatory health and safety and working environment guidelines; from the wearing of hard hats in designated areas to not being allowed on site when in a state of intoxication, are strictly complied with.

The use of drugs and alcohol while working on a construction site not only affects productivity, it also endangers the life of the employee in question, and those around him or her. Being on site while under the influence of either drugs or alcohol is in direct contravention of UK Health and Safety regulations. Therefore, ensuring it does not happen should always be considered a priority. Fortunately, there are simple and non-invasive procedures available, such as oral fluid testing, which is a quick and efficient way of ascertaining if a particular individual has consumed alcohol or drugs.

Another issue that project managers will need to take into account is the management of an ageing workforce which is presenting a growing challenge.  It’s predicted that the skills gap and labour shortage in the construction sector can be reduced if employers can find ways to make better use of older workers and encourage them to stay in work longer.  This can be particularly difficult in the construction industry which has a high proportion of workers over the age of 55.  While construction firms are more likely to allow employees to work past the age of retirement, keeping them up to date on current practice will often mean retraining in order to keep pace with the rapid technological changes that are likely nowadays. 

The construction industry has also seen an increase in the number of female workers and workers from a range of ethnic backgrounds who are choosing to train in construction skills of one type or another and embracing diversity really is a must nowadays.  The construction industry is changing just as rapidly as our lives are changing and keeping up to date is essential for project managers on construction sites here in the UK.

Project managers have to be jacks of all trades; one day they may be called upon to attend a meeting with the site owner to discuss budget over runs and the next they may be up to their armpits in mud helping to free a broken down JCB. Whatever the challenge a good project manager will do everything in his or her power to ensure the construction project is completed on time and to budget.