Safety Culture Critical in Onboarding in the Construction Industry 

by Clay Creaser

Establishing a culture supported by best practices within a company is oftentimes difficult and develops slowly over time unless clearly defined and demonstrated within an organization; it is subjective. Company culture is successful when people are leading by example and utilizing their voices, but an issue arises when no one believes they are the example. 

For example, establishing a safety culture is critical within the construction industry. And developing that culture requires tactics that extend beyond the utilization of universal safety videos and trainings; it happens when the men and women onsite engage in honest discussions. Building an environment that promotes open dialogue from the onset and does not avoid difficult conversations helps to generate strong internal communication and effective project safety management. 

Because safety practices are embedded in everyday construction job-site activities, team members may lose sight of their individual ability to impact and expand the workplace safety culture. Safety is driven by operational excellence, which requires a commitment and focus at all levels of the organization. Further, while internal buy-in is essential, a true safety culture is built through the inclusivity of industry partners. Prioritizing a partnership with trades that share the same passion for safety provides strong support for an organization’s initiatives throughout the project and supports a seamless collaboration between all parties. To be successful in driving a safety culture, companies must function as a network both internally and externally to convey key messages and lessons learned on a local, regional and national level. This is when true culture is created.

With the current influx in hiring, a major gap in many industries is becoming the onboarding of new employees, both entry level and experienced. Without an intentional onboarding program focused on the core values of a firm, new team members easily miss key messages and behaviors surrounding the company’s workplace environment.

All industries are vulnerable to this gap — and that is no less true in construction, as it continues to be an active industry in the Phoenix market. In this particularly mobile industry where a company’s employees are spread across multiple job sites, creating a consistent culture is crucial to developing a work environment where expectations are unwavering and continually elevating. 

Implementing initiatives to empower employees through education, exposure and dialogue progressively enhances their understanding of the value they bring to the company. Across the entire organization, it is important employees recognize unique aspects of the company standards and how they can make an impact in their role and, ultimately, foster company culture.

Clay Creaser is vice president in the Phoenix office of JE Dunn Construction, one of the largest commercial contractors in the nation, where he oversees the delivery of construction projects throughout the Southwest.

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