What is your company doing to keep its employees motivated during this slow time?

November 2009

Honestly, there is no way to keep anyone motivated. We are surprised when they continue to show up on Monday mornings. I look forward to the response on this one.

Hello AWCI. As a Canadian subscriber, we are not having these issues at this time. We are at present, and have been for the past year, looking for good men in any of our five branches across Western Canada. Feel free to have any of your subscribers contact www.qsiinteriors.com for additional information. Thank you.

Very hard to motivate anyone when there’s no work. The majority of my employees have moved to other trades or anything else available ... . If our government doesn’t do something about the construction industry very soon, a lot of small businesses and contractors will be out of it before the end of the year. I’ve had a lot of GCs already closing their doors because of no work, and the little work available is very competitive with sometimes 15 to 25 contractors bidding on small jobs. Our area in Florida is hurting and it seems Congress is only preoccupied with the big guns and not the small majority.
—Alan Castro Advanced Specialty Fort Walton Beach, Florida

I have a few gals in the office with imaginary illnesses, like Restless Leg Syndrome, Fibromyalga, and Scabies. They are being encouraged to seek a career in disability. Eventually, their disability insurance runs out and they come back. Meanwhile, they are off my payroll.
—Chris Ball, Ball Construction Management, Inc., Valencia, California

All of the unmotivated employees have gone down the road.

We’re not laying off anyone and getting a lot of in-house repairs done. Most of my people understand and realize this is not the norm. We still have managed to keep our gift points going as well. —Anonymous

It’s actually pretty easy. The first thing I did was hire people I could train to follow a system I created over the years. After that I make sure they know that the company will succeed or fail because of their efforts. I want them to feel a sense of ownership in the success of the company, and I want them to know that I see that in them as well. The only monetary motivation I give them is bonuses based on performance. I know they like the money but I truly feel that it’s the way they are treated that keeps them motivated to improve both themselves and the company.
—Craig Favors, Owner, Craig Favors & Associates LLC, Dallas TX

Doing a lot of serious praying to Almighty God. I’ve turned every aspect of our business over to Him.

Motivation is crucial to the well functioning of any organization. The military does a pretty good job with it, but have measures to ensure compliance not available to us (imagine telling a laborer to do 50 pushups because he didn’t salute the boss!).

Motivation in the construction industry, as with others, is significantly different now than prior to the economic downturn. We’ve seen improved production and attitude among the workers who are still working. They see how many of their friends and family are without work and recognize the need to "step it up.” Our production numbers have improved considerably. And there is less "clock watching” because employees see that if we’re not productive in the field and efficient in the office and pursuing work opportunities, all of our jobs, and the company’s existence, are at risk.

Ongoing education in the work we do and in safety and in communication in the field and with the office and with the general contractor, all support our employees and give them the courage and the information with which to attack each day’s problems.

For several years now we’ve cautioned our employees to be fiscally conservative to prepare for what we saw as an impending economic downturn. We advised against making unnecessary purchases or taking on questionable financing. We’d like to think that our concern for the well being of our employees engenders loyalty, and loyalty engenders motivation for employees to do their jobs as well as they can.
—Rob Aird, Robert A. Aird, Inc., Frederick, Maryland