Welcome to the Construction Industry Culture Taskforce (CICT) newsletter.
Since 2018, the Taskforce (created by the Construction Industry Leadership Forum), comprised of industry, governments, engaging with unions and other key industry participants, has been working to secure the sustainability of the industry in major project delivery.
Major project construction is a wonderful industry, delivering extraordinary projects to improve the quality of life of us all.
But we know it must change, if for no other reason than to try to address the acute skills shortage which increases cost and inhibits opportunity, equity and national productivity.
We are all aware of the issues enmeshed with industry culture – excessive working hours, appalling mental health, suicide, family breakdowns, the lowest gender diversity of any industry and a pay gap that’s getting bigger. We firmly believe our Culture Standard is a way to create a step change to improve our industry’s wellbeing, equity and attractiveness without compromising, and even improving, productivity or performance.
We know a multiplicity of factors create an industry culture. Still three issues influence the construction culture above all others: excessive working hours, poor mental health and lack of diversity.
The Standard is mostly non-prescriptive. There are a few givens, but it also invites proponents to create their own plans for addressing the inseparable issues of diversity, time for life and wellbeing. We see different emphases across the pilots already and we are sharing the learnings through pilot project forums.
And the rubber is hitting the road – in a good way – with the requirement that no worker should work more than a five-day week for 50 average hours. And that flexibility across those hours should be available.
We’ve also tracked the perceptions of 250 trainees in NSW to understand the pain points that might stop them from pursuing careers in construction. They told us the work was enjoyable and engaging, and they gained great satisfaction from seeing projects come to life. But one deterrent came up time and time again – long working hours. We need to do things differently if we want to attract and retain not only women, but also Gen Z, in the construction industry.
The appetite for meaningful change in the industry and among clients and other stakeholders is growing as we seek to achieve our ambition for the Culture Standard to become part of procurement. We deeply appreciate the continued support of our funding partners – the Australian Constructors Association (ACA) and the NSW and Victorian governments, the superb efforts across the pilots, the positive engagement of the union movement and the many who support our work in industry and beyond. This includes the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts and the Government of South Australia.
Amidst a changing social, regulatory and legislative environment, there is growing momentum for change, with many firms and government agencies independently taking the initiative. These groups are beginning to see benefits in recruitment, better and safer workplaces and increased diversity. For this edition of the newsletter, we’ll share how our pilot projects are progressing and our future focus.
Gabrielle Trainor, AO
Our roadmap to implementation
- Feedback from the initial engagement and consultation with industry and government stakeholders was incorporated into the draft Culture Standard.
- The research program on 5 pilot projects in NSW and Victoria, in partnership with RMIT began in early 2023 and will be completed in June 2024.
- Frontier Economics is working with our academic team to understand costs and benefits.
- The research is following the projects as they progress, highlighting how the Culture Standard is being implemented, the benefits, unintended consequences and any challenges.
- An additional project measuring the experience of NSW Infrastructure trainees was completed in June 2023.
- Collaboration with other government, industry and independent initiatives is ongoing.
- A report on our findings will be released around the end of 2024
- Wentworth Point new high school
- Mulgoa Road Upgrade Project Stage 1
- Sydney Children’s Hospital Stage 1 and Minderoo Comprehensive Cancer Centre
- Brunt Road Level Crossing Removal Project
- Narre Warren-Canbourne Road Upgrade
Our five pilot projects are now fully engaged in implementing initiatives that target each of the pillars in the Culture Standard. While the Culture Standard provides a consistent framework, each project has adopted different implementation methods to suit individual needs.
Quarterly forums allow the teams to come together to share ideas and workshop any issues.
The Culture Standard’s Time for Life pillar requires that organisations program their projects to:
- target that all workers work 50 hours or less per week, and
- ensure that no workers work over 55 hours per week, and
- operate the site from Monday to Friday or, where this is not viable (such as projects requiring occupancy or continuous plant activity), demonstrate why and ensure all workers are working a five-day per week program.
Moving to a 5-day program has involved careful workplace planning to ensure adequate on-site workforce, fatigue management and similar pay rates. Considered rostering has ensured a minimal loss of overtime rates while adhering to RDO agreements and ensuring productivity is not impacted.
Some projects are also implementing individual flexibility plans to ensure workers have Time for Life that fits with their age, life stage and caring responsibilities.
More information on the pilot projects can be found on our website Construction Industry Culture Taskforce | Pilot Programs
Momentum for a 5-day week is growing with several organisations across the sector independently adopting this format. NSW Health Infrastructure successfully trialled a 5-day week on the Concord Hospital Redevelopment, which opened to patients on time and on budget. They have now enacted over 20 construction contracts across their capital program operating on a 5-day work week, driving positive wellbeing outcomes for workers with no material impact to their projects. Click here to see their full Statement of Support for the Culture Standard.
We are also compiling a set of case studies and building a research hub to highlight the great work being carried out across the industry Resources & Linked Initiatives – Construction Industry Culture Taskforce
Transport for NSW is developing a video interview series that tracks the progress of the Culture Standard pilot on the Mulgoa Road Upgrade project over time and hear first-hand experiences of people working in the industry on how the Culture Standard is impacting them.
In the initial interview, Gabrielle Trainor AO, Chair of the Construction Industry Culture Taskforce, spoke about the work being undertaken to improve the wellbeing of workers and make the industry more diverse and inclusive. Latest News – interactive portal | Transport for NSW | Community Analytics (caportal.com.au)
Flexibility on the Mulgoa Road pilot project
Our research team is conducting a range of surveys on health and wellbeing, repeated through the pilot projects underway. Seymour Whyte is working on the Mulgoa Road Upgrade Project Stage 1 to co-design individual flexibility plans, which is positively impacting workers’ sense of autonomy and wellbeing.
“At Seymour Whyte, we are fostering an inclusive and supportive work environment. Our Mulgoa Road Upgrade Alliance is a Pilot Project for the Cultural Standard being rolled out by the Construction Industry Cultural Taskforce (CICT) and is embracing a ‘My Time’ strategy, prioritising work-life balance, and flexibility. This innovative, co-designed approach reflects our dedication to improving diversity and wellbeing in the construction industry and we’re seeing the returns in the team’s productivity, engagement, and retention. Incorporating flexible work practices is integral to fostering the well-being and success of our people.” Greg Anderson, Alliance Manager.
For more information visit the Seymour Whyte LinkedIn page.
The Pilot Project research program is continuing and will be finalised in mid-2024. Along the way, we’ll keep sharing our learnings and identify refinements, tools and resources that will support the implementation of the Culture Standard.
Seeing the Standard applied on a variety of projects, all with unique characteristics, is exciting and the learnings positive and impressive. The energy of the clients and firms involved and their commitment to change for their people is inspiring.
We will launch the findings of our trainee research in early 2024. We plan also to release an interim report on the evidence for the pilots early next year and will engage with decision-makers in the jurisdictions on the findings so far. Frontier Economics is also working with us on a costs and benefits analysis of the application of the Standard. We feel momentum to create an even better infrastructure construction industry is well and truly with us and thank you all for your continued support.
We are very interested in learning from other projects who have adopted a 5-day week or who have effective wellbeing, flexibility or diversity initiatives. We are building a Resource Hub and would welcome the opportunity to link to best practice in these areas. Contact us at [email protected] if you would like to share your work.
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