Women at work

How to manage labor and daily wagers

It has been two years since I have been working in construction industry.

In these two years, I have met multiple people – Clients, Prospective Clients, People from different industries, People in social gatherings, Relatives in family functions and the list goes on ! In each of these meetings, I observed a pattern of conversation which would happen just after my introduction. It would always have the following 4 questions – in the same order every single time !

  1. Oh you work in construction! Is this your family business ? – No its not !
  2. Are you married ? Is your husband working with you ? – No I am not married !
  3. Do you have a business partner ? – No again !
  4. Then are you a civil engineer ? – No ! I have graduated in Bioinformatics followed by my MBA.

Anyway, what would follow after this series of questions – would be surprise and aww they would have for me. They would talk in length about how I am courageous enough to be working in construction. Some of them would ask  how do I manage labor? Do I shout and scream at them? Do I also abuse on sites? Do I even go to my sites? Some would even joke if I walk around with two bodyguards !

Honestly, I never had to struggle in managing labor. The task assigned on site will always be done without me having to shout/scream/abuse. Then why do people consider labor management a difficult task?

 One of my friends once told me how I represent women empowerment – as even men are scared to be in construction!

This really got me thinking and the answer was here!

Probably construction seems so difficult as the macho approach towards it is probably all wrong!

Probably women are better labor managers than men! They have been doing it since centuries in front of our eyes and still we couldn’t see it !

We all have seen our moms managing house-helps. They rarely shout or abuse them but get 120% of the work done! And this is done throughout the year. They even get extra work done by them. And the best part is – all of this is in budget while keeping the house-help satisfied!

So here is the secret of labor management – divulged out loud !

The macho techniques introduce unnecessary difficulties in labor management. It is time to take a U-turn and adopt a more mom like approach. With my 28 years of experience of watching my mom and 2.5 years of experience of working in construction, I have broken down this new approach to the following practices:

  1. Way to a labor’s loyalty goes through his stomach
    Always make sure that your labor gets snacks at the end of the day. It only costs Rs 15 per person but will improve loyalty many-folds.
  2. Keep a weekly off
    It goes against the norms of construction industry to keep Sunday off. But it helps in reducing absenteeism. Planned off for the whole team is much better than unpredicted absenteeism.
  3. Give targets and incentivize performance
    Plan your project well and communicate the daily targets to the last helper. Make sure that there is daily measurement of work which is displayed on a chart on the site itself – preferably in the area where the labor has lunch, obviously in a language that they can read (They do!). This creates healthy competition and improves productivity.
  4. Communicate with them
    Talk to them more often ! It would surprise you to see how sometimes their ideas are better than yours or the engineering team. Also, transparent channels of communication help in improving loyalty.

In conclusion, I would also want to invite more women out there to come and work in the construction industry . Not only the industry needs you desperately, it has a lot of opportunities to offer. It’s a great career option, its easy and more than anything, its fun! Excited to meet more of you on sites!