Building our people

  • Publications and reports

    01 November 2022

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Travis Tomlinson of our Construction and Infrastructure Division moderated a thought-provoking panel session last month: Building our people.

Rick Herd of Naylor Love and Simone Sharp of AECOM joined us as expert panelists, together with partners Janine Stewart and Aaron Lloyd.

The panel shared their practical insights on the pressures affecting the Construction and Infrastructure workforce and the obligations on all industry participants to address these issues.

Key takeouts included:

  1. In the current landscape, attracting and retaining staff is a significant challenge. The sector is some 75,000 employees short – and this shortage continues to be exacerbated by external and internal immigration pressures.
  2. Upskilling your employees demonstrates commitment in a tight labour market. Training your workforce is a key means of achieving a boost in productivity without burning out your staff. If you look after your people, the bottom line will look after itself.
  3. With the increasing awareness of the importance of wellbeing and mental health, the key clauses of our standard form contracts are generally fit for purpose to manage culture and mental wellbeing considerations on construction projects. However, WorkSafe is increasingly looking to prosecute multiple parties for the same event. In light of this, you should look to actively incorporate steps to prevent psycho-social harm within your special conditions (and if possible, tie specific measures into your Health and Safety Plan).
  4. The volatile economic climate has added an additional layer of complexity for people’s mental health. Leaders within the sector need to be cognisant of these external pressures and do what they can to alleviate them in practical, concrete ways.
  5. Finally, the importance of strong leadership at all levels cannot be emphasised enough. Leadership underpins the growth of our industry. It is imperative that we provide junior staff with genuine opportunities to develop management expertise early. Build a culture of improvement, not blame.

For our sector to thrive, we need strong leadership to attract and retain a healthy, skilled workforce.  We all have a role to play in shaping our sector to achieve this.