Written by Deborah Le, Principal Consultant at VMAGROUP
The construction and property sector has experienced some very interesting and challenging times in the last 12 months. From the Grenfell incident that shocked the nation in June last year, to the unexpected collapse of Carillion, resulting in thousands of job losses.
As consultants from VMAGROUP’s Internal Communications Practice, Kristy and I met with several communications specialists from the construction and property sector to understand the impact they have had on employee engagement, as well as discuss some topical issues that may pose as threats to this industry.
The breakfast meeting was attended by:
- Chris Mostyn – Head of Marketing and Communications at Murphy
- Jade Eva – Head of Internal Communications at Mitie
- Richard Howat – Head of Employee Communications at Balfour Beatty
- Tim Collins – Head of Corporate Communications at Barratt Developments
Following the collapse of Carillion and the Grenfell incident, how has this impacted the construction and property sector, and in particular, how do you feel reputational management has been delivered so far?
There certainly has been some unhealthy comparisons with Carillion, and the media has a tendency to exaggerate on negative stories. From an IC perspective, it’s felt that it is particularly important at this time to remind the workforce of all the great things that they are doing and positive news across the board.
And whilst it certainly isn’t a knee-jerk reaction, the need to provide better benefits to demonstrate appreciation and thus improve retention has become paramount, something that our panel unanimously agree on.
Do you feel there will be a potential risk in skills shortages at ground level within the construction and property sector as a result of Brexit? And if so, what are your thoughts on engagement and morale levels?
It remains to be seen how much impact the ongoing uncertainty around possible restrictions to the movement of labour between EU countries and the UK Post-Brexit will have on the industry. It seems likely that some EU migrants who provide fundamental skills to the industry may be put off from coming to the UK because of the uncertain position. We therefore need to ensure our existing workforce is engaged through good communication and that might also involve training programmes to diversify skills and upskill employees as well as incentive schemes and so on. We also need to consider alternative home-grown sources of labour and that’s about thinking differently, so whether we can make this an attractive industry for ex-armed forces personnel or even ex-offenders who are now looking to make a positive contribution.
Additionally, with so much media coverage about gender pay gap, we do need to acknowledge that women are significantly under-represented in the industry and so we must also look at how we can make this a more attractive industry for them, and that might be through education and practical work placements for students.
Join me next month for Part 2.
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