How to Onboard New Trades

The lingering skilled labor shortage has created a culture of change within most construction companies. To stay productive, modern organizations need to establish efficient onboarding plans that help new trades hit the ground running. Here’s how you can streamline the onboarding process at your job site.

Keep construction documents up to date. Be sure to review key documents before the trade begins work. This includes architectural details, construction plans, schedule templates, scope-of-work specs and purchase orders. Instruct the trade to notify you or a manager if they come across any discrepancies. While a long-term asset might be able to overcome issues based on experience, a new trade will only know what your documents tell them. If the new trade struggles at first, honestly assess whether you have done everything to help them succeed before you simply assume they aren’t capable.

Leverage your resources. Manufacturers and suppliers benefit when a client’s job site runs efficiently. When productivity lags, they don’t sell as much merchandise. When materials are installed incorrectly, they may face liability issues or complaints. To make sure their materials are installed promptly and correctly, many manufacturers or their distributors provide training seminars. Take advantage of these opportunities to accelerate the onboarding process for new trades.

Develop onboarding materials. You should develop an onboarding packet that includes input from every department, including safety and risk management, accounts payable, purchasing and construction. The materials should include any relevant details about required safety gear, traffic restrictions and entry points to the job site. It should also provide information relating to payments, change orders, schedules, insurance and any other critical details relating to the work environment. In essence, you should have a handbook that includes everything your trade should know.

Get on the same page. Productivity suffers when trades bounce between people in your organization. Avoid this by making sure they know exactly who is in charge of every facet of a job site. Take the time to introduce all the key people within your team to all the key people within the trade’s management team. Make sure they know who is responsible for scheduling, material orders, bidding, billing, training and change orders. You don’t want the trade to waste time approaching the wrong people, so make sure they have all the appropriate contact information for each individual need.

Communicate. New trades require timely feedback to stay productive and avoid errors. In addition to an effective onboarding plan, you need to provide continued oversight and availability, so the job site runs according to your expectations. Make sure you assign a superintendent who is available to provide feedback without delays. This person should be able to answer questions, while identifying areas in which a trade is excelling and areas that need improvement. You should also explain that this will be part of the deal from the outset, so the trade will be more receptive to regular feedback.

 

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