By, Danny Doohan, Operations Director, ACS Construction Group
Ask the average person to name some of the tools which are valuable to the construction industry and they might be forgiven for immediately thinking of shovels, jackhammers, plant and machinery. And of course, to some extent they will still be 100 per cent correct. But times have changed and while a good groundworker, plant driver, deep drainage specialist or ‘Tunnel Tiger’ will never go short of work, those who spend their working week using a computer are now just as much a part of the 21st Century construction industry as their colleagues who know how to turn on a compressor.
But what about the people using and operating all these different tools, plant and equipment? And those supporting them in technical, professional, administrative and other off-site roles? What tools can their employers use to ensure these people are being given the support and opportunities they need to reach their full potential?
We have found that one of the most important and valuable tools in this regard is Investors in People (IIP). Two years ago, we at ACS Construction Group (ACS) were awarded Investors in People Gold Status, for the third consecutive time, for our proven and demonstrable commitment to the ongoing development, support and belief in our people, on and off site. We make no apology for being hugely proud of this achievement.
People are the biggest asset in any organisation. It also cannot be denied that they represent the biggest financial outlay, so it makes absolute sense both from a business and a human perspective to help ensure that your people are the very best they can be.
Companies in our industry invest heavily in maintaining and improving our premises, plant and equipment because our businesses depend on it and ignoring any issues would end up costing us dearly down the line. Yet it is surprising how many don’t seem to believe the same principle is true when it comes to investing in the ongoing improvement and wellbeing of their most valuable asset of all, their people.
That has never been our way. Having started life as a groundworks subcontractor 21 years ago, all we really had at the outset was people and belief. Our commitment to and belief in the potential of people to grow, improve and, given the right opportunities, thrive and succeed is what has brought us to where we are today, a full-service construction company capable of delivering complex, challenging, multi-million pound design and build projects.
When we started out as two men and a van, we wanted to be better and knew we had that potential inside us. But we also knew we couldn’t do it on our own. We didn’t think we knew it all and we were willing to accept advice, help and support from many others along the way. And so, by listening, learning and tapping into our true potential, we thrived as people and as a company. It is only common sense that we should remain true to those core values to this very day.
But don’t just take my word for it. Investors in People agrees and so do our employees. IIP has recently carried out an annual review of our IIP Gold Standard award and we are delighted with what they found in deciding that we had maintained our status. For example, a cross section of comments from our employees included the following:
“It’s a really good company – they’ve given me an opportunity”
“I am asked for my opinion – we are always included in decision-making”
“I feel my work is appreciated”
“Compared to my last company it’s great – the support from the office is fantastic”
“I feel very valued – 100%”
As for Investors in People, their feedback was also extremely positive and included the following:
“It was clearly evident that you are continuing to adopt a very effective strategic approach to people management.”
People described how your investment in people is continuing to produce key results such as:
- A very strong safety record
- Retention of a number of accreditations such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, Achilles, Safe Contractor and CHAS
- Strong financial performance with a trajectory of improvement in turnover and profit over the last three years
- Low levels of employee turnover compared to industry norms
- Very positive customer feedback on quality of work
“Senior leaders are accessible, visible and approachable and have engendered a high level of trust by consistently delivering on their promises”
“The company has continued to show a demonstrable commitment to the safety and wellbeing of employees – something that has been further strengthened throughout the pandemic”
“There is very effective collaboration and teamwork in both office and site environments”
“Congratulations on maintaining Gold accreditation. You have continued to demonstrate a progressive, continuous improvement approach over the last 12 months.”
There’s plenty to be proud of there, but we are not resting on our laurels. As I said at the beginning, Investors in People is a valuable tool that can deliver real results and genuine benefit and value for your business. And tools are not disposable. After all, you don’t throw your shovels away after every job.
Likewise, investing in people is not a box-ticking exercise, a trophy on your office shelf or a logo on your letterhead that you forget about once you have it. It is a never-ending process of investment and improvement, a constant quest to be better. It is a commitment to building your people and your business to the same high standards as the projects you deliver to your clients. And when it is part of the very ethos behind why you got into the construction industry in the first place, then yes, it really is just common sense.