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How Technology Protects Frontline Workers and Creates Community for Construction

AGC MEMBER USES MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS TO MODERNIZE OPERATIONS AND KEEP WORKERS SAFE AND ENGAGED ON THE JOB

BY CRISTIAN GROSSMANN, CEO OF BEEKEEPER

While the trial-and-error of managing a workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic was a big eye-opener for employers everywhere, one thing became strikingly clear: keeping frontline workers safe, productive and informed means keeping them digitally connected, global pandemic or not. Especially as hiring shortages and new virus variants threaten the slow tread of global economic recovery, maintaining a strong connection has become increasingly critical for these workforces. The construction industry is no exception.

CONSTRUCTION CHALLENGE: ENGAGING A DECENTRALIZED WORKFORCE

Wanzek Construction, an AGC of North Dakota member, specializes in the construction of renewable energy and heavy industrial with projects spanning across the country. But like many companies in the industry, 70% of Wanzek’s employees are out in the field without a computer or company email address. When its workforce tripled from 800 to 2,500, the company needed to find a way to stay connected to each and every one of them.

As a digitally progressive company, Wanzek leaders turned to technology to improve communication and found a mobile collaboration and productivity app that can reach employees directly on their personal devices anywhere they’re working. To accomplish this, the company partnered with Beekeeper, a mobile collaboration and productivity platform, designed for frontline industries. Now, with the introduction of two-way communication, employees have a way to initiate communication and stay engaged. Despite the company’s rapid growth and decentralized workforce, Wanzek has connected all of its employees through one digital hub.

That momentum also carries into the company’s recruitment policies, as Wanzek has worked to leverage the renewed sense of engagement among its teams to improve the hiring process. As hiring shortages continued to impact the construction industry this year, Wanzek looked to its employee community. The company developed a referral program with a simple, mobile approach: Employees could fill out a digital form within the employee app to refer friends to the HR department for employment. The Wanzek workforce generated a stunning 525 new employee referrals in just three months.

STRENGTHENING WANZEK CONSTRUCTION’S SAFETY CULTURE

Construction has a 29% higher accident rate than any other industry. Even before COVID, safety has been a priority for construction industry leaders, who are always looking for ways to minimize risks. Wanzek holds safety as a value, not just a priority. With the company’s job sites often nestled in rural areas, wildlife and weather events can add unexpected and unpredictable risks to the company’s workforce.

By adopting a mobile-first platform, the company was able to create a newsfeed-style communication stream dedicated just to safety. Workers in the field can use the Beekeeper app to read the safety newsletter, send real-time alerts and upload photos of potential hazards to keep co-workers informed and uphold the company’s longstanding commitment to its culture of safety.

DIGITAL COMMUNICATION BUILDS A BRIDGE TO THE FRONTLINE

With a mobile collaboration tool, Wanzek has connected its leadership team directly with frontline workers. It built a more engaged workforce and allowed enterprise-wide alignment to the company’s mission and goals. That’s not always easy to do in the construction industry which has a diverse, multilingual workforce. In fact, the construction industry has the largest language gap between workers and managers.

Wanzek chose the Beekeeper platform in part for its inline translation functionality, allowing every employee to send and receive communication in their preferred language. Now, Wanzek’s leadership team has built stronger relationships with frontline employees, improving communication in a way that had not been possible before.

Communicating digitally and directly allows workers to easily ask questions they might shy away from in person, even if they did get in front of the executive team. These small exchanges create more connected relationships between executives and workers across jobsites, tackling another one of the construction industry’s big challenges: how to create an authentic company culture, while simultaneously boosting morale and productivity.

A connected and engaged workforce leads to an increase in productivity, more seamless workflows and stronger project management, all of which helps construction companies hit their targets.

As Wanzek’s growth has skyrocketed, implementing a mobile-first communication infrastructure helped to strengthen company culture and connect workers throughout the continued period of rapid expansion. This empowers workers by giving them access to both critical operational messaging and community-building opportunities. Any construction company can use digital communication to successfully engage with frontline teams and leverage the same strategies to improve efficiency, safety, productivity and morale.

Cristian Grossmann is CEO and co-founder of Beekeeper, a secure, mobile-first operational communications platform for frontline teams. Beekeeper helps companies connect their distributed workforces to increase productivity and employee engagement.