Within the civil engineering sector, you get what you pay for when it comes to labour.
With the current skills shortage, employed or self employed, skilled and experienced operatives govern a higher price for their services. If you refuse to pay it, they move onto someone that will.
Operating in the temporary labour market, we have seen budgets for construction projects drop significantly during periods of slowdown, and most providers then achieve the margin by using cheaper, less effective operatives. More often than not, it results in a sub-standard service, poor production and a damaged relationship.
Understandably, when starting any discussions on projects our enquiries always tend to start with ‘what are your rates?’, and for us the answer is simple, ‘whatever you want to pay’. It looks great on paper if a pound an hour is saved on the labour rate, but what if it results in losing two pounds an hour in production?
We feel we have the responsibility to advise of these potential losses, in the same way we try to highlight potential savings.
What is the answer to effective production?
The key to effective production using temporary labour is close partnering with clients and providing each gang with the correct skills mix for the project. For this we aim to gain a clear and detailed understanding of what work is required for the job. Much higher savings can be enjoyed ensuring that skilled operatives are rewarded, whilst managing their level of involvement.
A four Man Groundwork’s gang generally only needs two or three skilled operatives but we believe it is important to pay the right money for these and save on the others.
Saving money by cutting all rates in our view is the wrong approach.
Like everyone, we have sharpened our offering to remain competitive against other temporary labour suppliers but we know from experience not to agree to rates that could result in a poor service.
Within contracting, a good workforce is possibly the most important cog in the production wheel and on this basis, we would argue that cheapest isn’t always best.