A group of construction industry leaders have brought together professionals from across the sector in an online forum to lift the veil on the most pressing issues the construction industry needs to address.
The forum’s discussion and a follow-up LinkedIn survey, completed by hundreds of people working in the sector, identifies the industry’s culture as a priority area where change is needed.
Survey respondents were asked to rank the areas they thought industry leaders needed to address first. Just under half (49 per cent) said improving culture was the most important issue to address.
Then came improving risk allocation at 29 per cent and improving productivity at 15 per cent. Surprisingly, just 7 per cent said expanding the resource pool was most important, even though recent media and industry discussion has focused on that topic.
Specialist industry management consultant, Shivendra Kumar of Shivendra & Co, said that there is a tension behind the 49 per cent figure for improving culture.
“I think the biggest source of that tension is a systemic dissatisfaction with the pressures people work under and the dynamics of the industry as a whole,” Mr Kumar said.
CEO of the Australian Constructors Association (ACA), Jon Davies, said that the forum highlighted that the challenges are all interlinked.
“For example, it is widely understood that adversarial commercial frameworks negatively impact on culture and yet a positive industry culture is a key factor in attracting people into the industry,” he said.
“The ACA is committed to improving the sustainability of the industry and working closely with all stakeholders.”
Matthew Mackey, a director at quantity surveying firm Arcadis said: “People wanting to see cultural change are also seeing how culture relates to the next two priority issues participants wanted industry leaders to focus on, which are risk allocation and productivity.”
Given the surprising prominence survey respondents gave to cultural issues, in the industry the next forum, on 9 March, will focus exclusively on industry culture, with special guest Alison Mirams, CEO of Roberts Co, a leading industry thinker on diversity and change.
Marc Kenny, managing director of Brisbane based company, Mettle, will join Ms Mirams to talk cultural challenges. And adding perspective to the discussion will be anthropologist Kevin Porter, who recently wrote a report on the industry’s culture for the Queensland Major Contractors Association. Forum co-founder Matthew Mackey will facilitate and join the dots.
Reflecting on the value of the initiative, Gearoid Considine of specialist recruitment firm Brightside Consultants, said: “We always imagined there would be value in a ground-up approach to addressing the challenges confronting the industry.”
“What we are seeing so far is very encouraging, there is a lot of interest and enthusiasm for change, so we want to build on that now with more grass-roots collaboration, so watch this space, the next forum on industry culture will be lively,” Mr Considine said.
Moreover, given the level of interest in the first forum, the group is now undertaking deeper qualitative and quantitative research into all the priority issues its grassroots participants have identified, and more forums will be announced soon.
For more information on the 9 March forum on industry culture, and to register to attend, visit here.