The productivity of construction workers hasn’t kept pace with other industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while other industries have recorded worker productivity increases of up to 250 percent since 1964, construction worker productivity has declined by 25 percent. Another analysis of construction industry productivity, as reported here, found the average construction worker operates at about 40 percent efficiency. But before blaming the workers take a look at the reasons why their productivity is so low.

The study and resulting analysis mentioned above was done by Prof. Roger Liska, chair of the Department of Construction Science and Management at Clemson University in Clemson SC. A lot of the reasons he cites for the low productivity are actually management problems. More than half of that lost productivity can be traced to delays waiting for equipment and supplies, inefficient company processes, and work rules and congested work areas. These are things where better management can really have an impact.

So what causes the remaining lost productivity?

Although not directly related to construction when Pace Productivity surveyed 690 employees and entrepreneurs across North America they found people had a hard time taking responsibility for the time they waste. When asked to list things under their control that get in the way of their productivity almost 17 percent couldn’t come up with anything. Well, maybe those are the ones who are the most productive. Here are some of the items people cited as being within their control but still getting in the way of them being able to be more productive.

  • Almost 10 percent of respondents cited interruptions by others;
  • Eight percent said they were not good time managers;
  • Six percent claimed procrastination as the culprit;
  • A little over 5 percent cited poor planning;
  • Five percent cited socializing, gossiping, taking breaks and calling friends; and
  • Five percent blamed customer issues and lack of knowledge and training on products and duties.

In another survey by America Online and it was discovered that the average American worker goofs off two hours a day.

It’s clear that everybody owns some of the low productivity pie. What do you think? Are you as productive as you could be? Are there time wasters more specific to construction like the porta-potty being too far away? We’d like to hear from you.

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