As construction and the development of infrastructure leads the charge towards economic recovery in the UK, there are still some sceptics that question if the industry can actually deliver. Historically main contractors have struggled to maintain profits and productivity and have held on tightly to some poor policies – such as late payments. What will the industry need to do differently to be able to deliver on future expectations?

Progressive thinking

If the construction industry wants to perform better it starts with creating a progressive vision and strategy. The old boy’s club traditions, unfortunately, have to go, and be replaced with a new way of thinking. The lack of diversity in construction is a problem – address it by creating more awareness and opportunities for people from different backgrounds to showcase their expertise. There is a great deal of expertise out there, but people are nervous to apply because they think they don’t stand a chance. Or because, even if they do get the job, they feel they’ll have to disprove the doubts of their co-workers on a daily basis.

There is so much unconscious bias that happens in the workplace. People don’t understand prejudice because it hasn’t been directed at them. Progressive thinking means having honest conversations in all departments and building a new vision that embraces diversity and respects people for their skills and expertise, regardless of their background.

Will profits and productivity follow?

Many people may question what progressive thinking and diversity have to do with productivity and profits. The answer lies in a study conducted by McKinsey in 2019, which reviewed the top performing companies and what they had in common. It came down to the key elements of diversity and progressive thinking that promoted innovation, creativity and problem solving. Also included is the adoption of new technologies and experimentation with new and alternative processes.

When businesses start to understand the value in having different perspectives and innovation in an organization, it can pay dividends. The problem is that most managers don’t see diversity as a business benefit, and they view innovation as a risky expense. Changing mindsets and cultures is not easy, it takes a determined effort and time. Time many think is better focused on improving productivity and profits. But ask yourself this question: If productivity and profits haven’t improved in the last decade, isn’t it time to try a different approach?