How to measure and improve labour productivity in construction?

Posted on
September 7, 2022

The measurement of the productivity of construction workers can be a challenging task. Contrary to manufacturing and other industries, construction jobs are largely influenced according to the type of project, contractor specialization, and other elements. In other words, measuring efficiency is more challenging if you're not mass-producing a standard product.

 Despite these obstacles, industry researchers and experts have made progress in measuring productivity over the past few years. Some intriguing developments have been observed. Although exact metrics for productivity vary, most sources agree that construction productivity could be improved.


How do you measure Labour Productivity?

The most straightforward method of calculating productivity in the workplace involves dividing the output in half by input. The output is the work performed by labourers, like shuttering, cutting and bending rebars, concrete pouring work, and so on.

Labour productivity = [Output (Total Work done)] / [Input (Total No. of Man days Consumed)]                

The calculation of labour productivity using the formula above is for the entire job. However, the daily, weekly, and monthly productivity could be calculated by changing the formula for labour productivity accordingly. The following formulae illustrates the labour productivity formula that calculates weekly and daily productivity.

1. For Daily Labour Productivity,

Daily productivity = [Daily Output (Work done for the day)] / [Daily Input (No. of labours on the job for that day)]

2. For Weekly Labour Productivity,

Weekly productivity = [Weekly Output (Work done for the week)] / [ Weekly Input (No. of man-days for the week)]



How to improve labour productivity in construction?

The plight of labours working in the Indian construction industry is the worst compared to all other countries in the world. With all the various elements that impact productivity, how can contractors enhance their performance within these fields? Here are a few possibilities that are easy to recognize but worth trying:

1. Labours are not treated properly at construction sites in India. They feel discouraged to work productively. Just because they are labourers who work as daily wagers, does not mean that they do not deserve respect. They should be given their due as workers who are toiling everyday to make a meagre living. Managers and engineers should interact more humanely with them, so that they feel motivated and work more productively.

2. Proper breaks in between tasks should be allowed so that they get time to rest and can work with the same intensity throughout the day. They should be duly compensated for overtimes. 


3. Most contractors are well aware of the need to employ a highly skilled workforce. However, finding and keeping skilled employees can be a struggle because of the constant character of the construction industry. Focusing on keeping employees and reducing turnover is one method to maintain and build a skilled workforce. If you treat employees respectfully, you'll likely see people more motivated to complete good work and stay loyal to the company.


4. Beginning with bidding, look for projects suitable to your staff's complexity and size. If you are working on active projects, ensure adequate access to the site and a safe workplace and appropriate equipment. 


Field equipment can include high-quality machines and tools, PPE (personal protective equipment) (PPE), and vehicles. At the site, labourers should feel safe while working.


5. Some indirect overhead or labour is essential to run a company, but determining the right size is essential to successfully running a business. Like it is crucial to have qualified field personnel, having a competent staff for accounting and bidding, human resources, and other administrative tasks is essential. 


Small-scale business owners may have difficulty determining the appropriate proportion between delegating these duties and handling these tasks themselves. Other non-productivity activities, like the need to rework, can be reduced through proper training and dealing with prior issues related to workplace conditions and the labour force.


6. The weather is clearly out of the contractor's control. A proper plan can prevent the effects of this old foe. Be aware of your contract and any clauses that deal with the weather. If you can, include provisions that will help in severe weather conditions. Technologies, such as apps that track weather on mobile devices, can assist with project day-to-day and hourly control.


7. Similar to working conditions, you should run an organization that is sensitive to noise, ergonomics, work hours, compensation, and other elements. Simply put, create an environment that is professional for the business as a whole and also for employees on the individual level.


8. In addition to keeping high-quality machinery and equipment, ensure that you use the most current software to manage your business and projects. Ideally, you'll need an application that allows project teams to work together and exchange information in real time with field and office teams. Try to create a unified system that provides an efficient and consistent reporting system rather than a mix of techniques that rely heavily on spreadsheets, emails or handwritten notes.

Kumar Abhishek Anand
Content Writer