Out of most industries and sectors in Australia, the construction industry is the third most deadly with around twice the average fatality rate according to Safe Work Australia.
A key process flaw in the way they communicate with their workforce, restricts safety Managers on construction sites around the world. Paper notices and verbal communication is used to spread critical messages, these are often lost in translation (think Chinese whispers), are apathetically received by the workforce and are left redundant on the crib hut wall. Who actually checks the noticeboard during their smoko?
According to Gallup (State of the Global Workplace | 2013), employees in supervision positions are some of the least engaged in the workforce, meaning there’s a crucial breakdown in communication delivery, contributing to worksite fatalities – for us at Cribber, that’s just not good enough.
The idea that one-way communication, without feedback or metrics measuring the retention of a message, delivered by disengaged supervisors, is the standard on most of the construction projects in Australia and across the globe seems archaic.
There is light at the end of the tunnel however, and despite the gloomy start to this featured blog post, some supervisors do an incredible job to actively engage their teams and get feedback on key messages they communicate. They seek feedback on how procedures are implemented, the problems people are facing, potential work process improvements and they can gauge the understanding of the team – this kind of effort is all to rare. We can’t realistically expect this kind of stellar performance from every supervisor.
And this is where Cribber comes in. We promote effective leadership, and incorporate a communication tool into the safety process, which will help limit and ultimately end workplace injuries and fatalities.
When measuring communication effectiveness, a blend between subjective qualitative insights from supervisors and cold hard quantitative data is essential. When communication is purely verbal, or purely literal as on a dusty crib hut noticeboard, the message becomes meaningless and difficult to track whether an employee fully understood the details and intent of that very message – it becomes professional Chinese whispers again.
In exactly the same way as we measure construction productivity by quantity unit rate reports (e.g. cubic meters of concrete per job hour), we can measure and improve communication effectiveness using metrics. I’ll discuss this in a moment, but first…
Are zero fatalities our only motivation?
To society, and Cribber, poor communication in the workplace leading to injuries or fatalities is inexcusable. However, improved communication is an attractive prospect for other reasons other than advocating for a zero fatality policy. Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) found in a recent survey on the current state of project management, that effective communication is associated with a 17% increase in finishing projects within budget. Similarly, the Towers Watson 2011-2012 ‘Change and Communication ROI Study Report’ shows that companies that have highly effective communications practices are 1.7 times more likely to outperform their peers financially.
So now we have two very valid reasons why solid communication makes business, social and logical sense. But how do we improve?
Any effective communication system will measure engagement with the messages communicated, assess the retention of knowledge shared, and close the feedback loop to continuously improve.
Furthermore, with any important or critical information, showing clear management intent behind the message is vital. By requiring the workforce to provide a signature saying they have read, understood and agree to follow the information this is clearly demonstrated.
Cribber allows managers to send out information to hundreds or thousands of workers in minutes and receive a unique and secure digital signature from each employee, capturing a record of each, and storing it securely in the cloud. Saving worksites the hours of administration it takes to share information manually and receive signatures in ink.
A positive and consistent communication message and style from management is an important ingredient for an engaging worksite. This accompanied with timely feedback and support will result in more of your employees falling in to the highly engaged category, where you’ll reap the rewards like higher productivity.
Trial Cribber today by requesting access here, and bring your worksite up to scratch with our novel and engaging communication platform.