If getting your employees to work hard and reach goals feels like pulling teeth, it’s time to rethink your incentive strategy. Maybe you don’t have one in place, or you simply haven’t revamped your bonus programs or benefits packages in a while.

Regardless, a poor incentive strategy can leave your workforce drained, discouraged and disdainful. If you’re looking for effective ways to re-energize your team and maximize efficiency, here are a few strategies to consider.

Verbal Recognition

Never underestimate the power of a simple thank you. Voicing your appreciation for your employees and their work is extremely important to creating a positive atmosphere and incentivizing workers. About 66% of employees will quit if they feel underappreciated, and that percentage jumps to 76% among millennials.

To retain and encourage employees, it’s crucial you verbally recognize them, both in private and in front of their peers. Cite specific examples of their hard work and how it’s positively impacted a project or the team as a whole.

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Bonus Programs

While verbal praise may be enough for a majority of employees, others may find bonuses more incentivizing. Bonus programs can provide excellent supplementation to verbal recognition. Depending on your goals and budget, you might include performance-based monetary bonuses or opportunities for raises.

Each player in a construction project should have bonus programs tied to their area of responsibility. Field supervisors might be rewarded for working ahead of schedule, general contractors for contract management and overall profits, and so on. This will keep bonuses relevant and achievable for workers at any level.

The key to developing an effective bonus program is making sure everyone understands it. Otherwise, your employees may become confused, frustrated and demotivated. Additionally, avoid giving arbitrary gifts, as your employees may take them for granted.


You might also consider profit-sharing — also called gain sharing — which is another type of bonus program. However, instead of awarding employees based on personal performance, you do so based on the success of your company.

These often come in the form of year-end bonus checks. This program works by setting an overall annual revenue and net profit target. If your company reaches or exceeds these set goals, you award your management teams a certain percentage of the profit-sharing pool.

Some construction companies restrict this bonus to their management team, which can help motivate supervisors while keeping finances under control. However, all workers value transparency. If it makes sense for your team, consider tying in profit-sharing incentives to help workers see their work as a feature of the entire company’s success.

Advancement Opportunities

Opportunity for advancement is one of the primary factors driving motivation in the construction industry. If employees know hard work and determination can lead to promotions, they’re more likely to strive to reach goals, benefiting both the company and themselves in the process.

Setting a clear path for career advancement also helps recruitment efforts across the industry. Young people have long been discouraged from pursuing skilled work in the trades due to the industry’s popular misrepresentation as a dead-end or limited career opportunity. Efforts to combat this narrative with a clear, enticing vision of the growth opportunities available can attract and exciting young workers.

Provide these opportunities by offering job training or classes to teach them new skills and encourage a leadership mindset. Upon program completion, employees might receive a raise or move into a management position within your company. Workers who see purpose in their labor and professional growth will be more motivated to take charge of their careers and help businesses grow.

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Benefits are another type of incentive strategy. Whether it be health care, a 401(k) or paid time off, creating a comprehensive benefits program can motivate your employees to work hard and put in more time on the jobsite.

Typically, employers offer these benefits to full-time workers or those that meet specific requirements. Matching or exceeding the benefits of competing companies will attract more people and retain them for longer periods.

A Healthy Workplace Environment

Just like thank-you’s, a healthy workplace environment is something you shouldn’t overlook. A toxic workplace breeds disdain and even contempt toward management and co-workers. Attitudes and relationships can sour quickly, leading to employee turnover and lack of motivation.

However, a healthy workplace incentivizes workers by providing an upbeat, encouraging environment and quality relationships. You can promote a positive workplace by communicating responsibilities and goals, treating employees with respect and setting a positive example to those under your leadership.

Involved Leaders

If you aren’t physically present and available to your employees, all other incentives go out the window. Leaders that aren’t involved in projects or concerned about the well-being of their team create employees that don’t feel the need to work hard or strive toward goals. In their eyes, they’re simply working for some rich higher-up who doesn’t seem to care about them. That can be incredibly unfulfilling.

Moreover, if you don’t visit project sites regularly, how are you supposed to know what goes on at your construction site? Get on the scene and involve yourself in on-site meetings. Communicate with your workers and management teams and look for ways to improve alongside them. You’re there to help them succeed so your company can, too.

How to Motivate a Construction Workforce

The trades are a competitive industry, and it’s challenging for business owners to recruit and retain skilled professionals in today’s market. Therefore, it’s more crucial than ever to invest in your workers. After all, they’re the driving force behind your success and, without them, who knows where your business might be.

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