Survey show culture source of construction industry tension

Praxis Communication

Wicked industry tensions show up in a new construction industry forum and survey, with culture top of the list in terms of people wanting change.

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 the priority area where change is needed.

Survey respondents were asked to rank the areas they thought industry leaders needed to address first. A whopping 49% said improving culture was the most import issue to address.

Then came improving risk allocation at 29%, improving productivity at 15%. Surprisingly, only 7% said expanding the resource pool was most important, even though recent media and industry discussion has focused on that topic.

‘There is a tension behind the 49 per cent figure for improving culture,’ Mr Kumar said.

‘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,’ he said.

Mr Davies, CEO of the Australian Constructors Association (ACA), said 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.’

‘The ACA is committed to improving the sustainability of the industry and working closely with all stakeholders,’ Mr Davies said.

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 Mettle will join Alison 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’ he 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.

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