Human resources (HR) is an essential component of any business. However, it’s vital to understand that the role of an HR department varies from industry to industry. The strategies and protocols professionals develop for one field almost certainly won’t be directly transferable to another.
This is why it’s particularly important for construction businesses to have a clear and relevant HR approach. Construction involves a range of hazards that require thorough hiring and onboarding processes to minimize the potential for accidents. This can involve specialized paperwork to maintain regulatory compliance, and ensuring new hires have the expert guidance they need. Without experienced HR professionals in place, construction projects can face serious disruption and expose workers, the business, and the public to unnecessary risks.
Let’s explore HR’s role in construction a little further. Where do professionals in this field make the most impact and why should businesses invest in them?
Safety and Compliance
Perhaps the most important role HR professionals have in the construction industry is maintaining safety. After all, human actions and errors are so often key contributors to accidents on and around construction sites. While the HR department is not usually on project sites inspecting employee activities, it is still its responsibility to ensure all staff are acting safely and being protected from harm. Certainly, HR is involved in arranging compensation and improvements should accidents occur, but it’s always better to take preventative measures.
This begins with HR’s approach to hiring and recruiting team members for construction projects. HR professionals have to seek out those with the experience and qualifications to ensure workers are able to handle equipment and tasks safely. They need to be up-to-date on what minimum certifications are required for each role by government organizations and insurance companies. HR professionals also must be trained to effectively inspect these qualifications for authenticity.
This type of scrutiny doesn’t just apply to hiring and onboarding permanent staff, either. HR must also ensure all contractors are fully certified and licensed to the highest safety standards. This is especially important given that it is unlawful in the Philippines for contractors or subcontractors to operate without a Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB) license.
HR is also responsible for ensuring effective compliance training is in place during the onboarding and orientation process. This is the process of making sure workers understand and adhere to industry regulations, building codes, and insurance requirements. HR professionals may design e-learning modules on compliance elements of specific roles. Arranging mentoring with more experienced staff can also be a powerful tool for compliance.
Construction Business Strategy
HR often gets mistaken as a department tasked with simply hiring and firing workers. However, professionals in the field and those interacting with them understand these experts have a wider impact. Particularly in the construction industry, one of the key roles of HR is to contribute to designing and implementing business strategies.
Primarily, this involves understanding, predicting, and strategizing the business’s long and short-term staffing needs. HR professionals will review the details of individual projects coming down the pipeline to establish role requirements and potential challenges. This isn’t just to understand what staff are required but also to ensure the resources and training these employees need are in place well in advance. This may also require HR teams to assess trends in the business’s segment of the construction sector and develop long-term plans to make certain the workforce is fit for its purpose.
Part of this strategic responsibility is also working alongside project managers and business leaders to navigate budgetary elements. Particularly with smaller businesses it can be challenging to identify the most appropriate sources of financing to fund growth and staff development. Where HR identifies significant staff needs, this may require seeking capital from angel investors or business loans.
For short-term project needs, invoice financing may leverage future profits to pay for immediate new hires. In each of these cases, HR often has a role in quantifying the value these staff members will bring to the business to assure funding providers of the likelihood of a good return on investment (ROI).
Addressing the Skills Gaps
At its core, the role of HR in construction is to help businesses address their people-based challenges. One of the pressing duties of HR departments across the sector at the moment is addressing skills gaps. These can be more generalized skills deficits, such as those contributing to the continued construction labor shortage in the Philippines. Other gaps may be more project-oriented, requiring specialist skill sets. But HR departments in construction also need to monitor the industry to understand where future issues are likely to be and implement measures to address them now.
Part of HR’s role here is certainly to arrange appropriate training programs. This can be especially challenging in an industry like construction in which employees aren’t always permanent and may well be operating on temporary gig contracts. As such, HR professionals will spend time assessing which staff members are likely to represent a good investment in the long term. This is usually built into a development program to ensure the most valuable temporary or permanent employees receive continued education and advancement.
However, it’s not just training that has an impact on skills gaps. HR professionals also have a role in attracting and retaining those with the soft and technical skills to build on. Therefore, designing, funding, and executing benefits programs falls within their remit. This usually incorporates appropriate resources for the industry, such as healthcare access to address common risks and paid vacation time to balance the stress of lengthy projects.
Human resources professionals have key roles to play throughout construction enterprises.
Their hiring and onboarding efforts help to ensure staff and projects meet safety requirements. HR departments also help to strategize the direction and growth of the business by assessing and predicting long-term needs. Particularly at the moment, professionals in the field have an impact on addressing skills gaps that may otherwise derail businesses. With a strong and agile HR team, construction enterprises have the potential to truly thrive.