There has been a significant recovery in the construction sector since 2012. According to the Irish Construction Industry “the building and construction industry increased its volume of output by 4.1% in the second quarter of 2014 when compared to the previous year”. In residential construction the ESRI predict that between 10,000 and 12,000 new houses will be needed between now and 2015. Further predictions project that this requirement will double to between 20,000 and 25,000 homes to accommodate ongoing demographic change. A further report carried out by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland entitled the “Construction Sector Outlook 2014” has forecasted the creation of about 30,000 new jobs over the next few years.
Many of our skilled construction workers have left Ireland to seek opportunities abroad. A construction boom and tax free salaries have attracted many Irish construction workers to the Middle East. According to the Irish Times in the United Arab Emirates the Irish population has increased by about 30 per cent to an estimated 6,000 people. In Riyadh the Irish Embassy has reported an increase in the number of families now living in Saudi Arabia to an estimated 3,000 people and a further 1,000 Irish people residing in Qatar. Canada has also been an attractive destination for many of our engineering specialists due to its current scarcity of workers. It is estimated that 3,000 skilled Irish construction workers will be working in Canada as engineering specialists by the end of 2014.
In addition to skilled construction workers leaving our shores many Irish construction companies have also set up new ventures overseas. Some of these companies’ strengths include English as the established business language and high innovation and design standards. In 2010 Irish construction firms P Elliot & Company Limited and Wills Bros Ltd set up a new joint venture in Saudi Arabia. In 2011 Sligo based company Jennings O’ Donovan & Partner followed suit and announced that it had secured a contract of 2.8m as the Primary Infrastructure Development for a large development in Bahrain. Irish construction companies such as Kentz, Laing O’Rourke and Kentech have also won significant projects with some offering attractive overseas packages for the construction professionals and their families.
Talent Shortages in the Irish Market
As the Irish construction housing market has seen a bounce-back in job opportunities, there are now not enough suitably qualified graduates to fill them. The downturn in the building sector five years ago triggered a dramatic fall in secondary school leavers interest in third level study in courses linked to this area. According to Career and Education News between 2008 and 2013, CAO first preferences for construction related courses plunged from 552 to 195. Engineers Ireland also recently highlighted that there will be a shortage of engineering graduates in the years ahead and that during the 2013/2014 academic year only 62 construction engineers graduated. An additional problem of having a percentage of our skilled construction workers overseas on high tax free salaries poses further problems for engineering companies in relation to the recruitment of staff.
The ongoing recovery of the construction industry along with the issue of many of our skilled engineering professionals overseas poses questions for companies, educators and the government in how we ensure we have sufficient talent available for the opportunities which will emerge.
The government recently announced a stimulus package for the construction industry titled “Construction 2020”. One of the points outlined within this package was a tax incentive scheme to increase supply for residential housing developments and to increase job numbers within the construction sector.
While it is unwise to look for a situation where any sector is too popular a choice (demand for architecture and civil engineering during the boom was out of sync with future opportunities), there is certainly a case that more interest can be promoted in relevant construction courses. Many of our mechanical and electrical construction companies have reported difficulty in finding strong candidates for junior and intermediate roles – while there has simultaneously not been a large demand from school-leavers for building services courses.
Along with this, experienced managers in the construction sector have commented that educators need to provide more “real world” exposure to future engineers towards the end of their third level education – eg. better Excel and planning software skills (MS Project, Primavera etc.) as these will enable them to bring greater value and “hit the ground running” with companies in the marketplace. It looks likely that Irish companies will try hard to attract many of our overseas engineers back home in the near future – they will also be interested to see if an increased number of skilled graduates can emerge through the education system.
The answer to tackling the current deficit of qualified construction professionals should come from multiple sources including government incentives, upskilling current workers and promoting careers in construction to those entering third level education. As the Irish construction sector continues to show strong improvement we look forward to continuous growth in the year ahead.
Posted by Recruitment Consultant, Sigmar on 7 December 2017
10 Small Ways to Increase Productivity at Work
10 Small Ways to Increase Productivity at Work
‘Work smarter, not longer.’ This is the attitude more and more employers are adopting as flexible and part-time working becomes increasingly normalised by businesses. There are only so many hours in the day – to avoid taking work home with you, it’s important to be productive in the time you have. In a world of short attention spans and incessant distractions, however, that can be difficult. Here are 10 small ways you can increase your productivity at work and better attain that mythical work/life balance. 1. Document Your Time Humans’ awareness of time is historically warped. In very few scenarios can we accurately estimate how much time has passed, with our perception able to be distorted by factors such as temperature, season, time of day or emotional state. It’s therefore a great idea to document how much time a day you actually spend on completing certain tasks. Having an objectively clear picture of how your day tends to be spread out will help you better structure your time in the future. 2. Set Deadlines Now you know where your time is going, try limiting the amount of time you spend on one task. ‘Perfection is the enemy of good,’ so they say. You can always return to an activity and polish it up later. In the meantime, however, it’s a good idea to keep up momentum and move onto a new task when you can – you may be surprised at how much you can achieve if you’re strict with yourself! 3. Hold Standing Meetings This one may not be for everyone, but the results behind it are interesting. It’s been suggested by research that standing meetings (literally meetings where everyone is standing) are more time efficient and productive. Without seats or tables, there tends to be less territoriality and increased group collaboration, not to mention quicker meeting times. One study found their average meeting length was reduced by 25% when participants were standing throughout. 4. Act, Don’t React It’s easy to let your day be dictated by phone calls and emails, putting out fires with every response. While this reactionary attitude is a great way to simply ‘cope’, it stops you making headway of your own with projects that require you to be proactive in how you handle them. While it’s difficult to ignore a pop-up notification or a blaring ring tone, carving out time in your schedule when everybody knows not to disturb you, or turn your notifications off. 5. Delegate Many busy leaders tend to believe it’s quicker to complete a task themselves (and definitely get it right first time) rather than explain the task to a co-worker and have them complete it (maybe not quite right first time). This can result in complete overwork on the part of the leader, and perhaps an unhealthy environment of mistrust or micromanagement in the workspace. Instead, consider assigning tasks to colleagues based on their strengths, and take the time to explain to them clearly what exactly you’re looking for from them. You might be pleasantly surprised when they do it as well, or better, than you could! 6. Stay Healthy One of the most effective ways to increase your productivity is to keep your brain in top shape. Some things you can do to maintain energy levels and sharp thinking are: Get a good night’s sleep Stay hydrated Keep healthy, nutritious snacks in your desk drawer Exercise regularly, particularly in your breaks Take a full lunch break Don’t take work home with you when you can avoid it 7. Take…Breaks? Taking breaks to improve productivity sounds somewhat counterintuitive. However, scientists have suggested that taking regular mental rests from work actually makes us more productive in the long run. As University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras elaborates: “Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused…From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!” Why not give it a go? Try working in 90-segments with a 10-minute break between each. Really disconnect from your desk during this time – take a walk, get some fresh air. When you return to the problem at hand, you’ll be forced to think about it globally rather than specifically for a few minutes, perhaps enabling you to see solutions and perspectives previously hidden from you. 8. Avoid Multi-tasking When your to-do list is overwhelmingly long, it can be tempting to hop from task to task, generating an illusion of control for your own benefit. However, studies have consistently suggested that we are most productive when we set our minds to one job at a time. While you might feel you are getting more done while multi-tasking, in reality you are wasting time as you jump between headspaces, losing the clarity that comes with continuous focus. 9. Try Listening to Music Research suggests that certain types of music at the right time can really boost productivity. There is disagreement as to why exactly this is – some credit the boost in mood, some claim it is the ability to drown out office chatter. Regardless, music can be really useful in helping workers eliminate distractions and power through a task, particularly repetitive ones. Instrumental music is particularly praised as a focus-tool. The lack of lyrics means it’s hard for you to get distracted by words and meanings, enabling you to dedicate 100% of your concentration to your work. Similarly, the soothing effects of classical musical can help alleviate stress, helping you be more productive. If you don’t have a work playlist ready to go, you can find some great ready-made ones on most music streaming sites, such as Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music. 10. Prioritise We all have most productive hours. If you’ve followed our first tip and documented how you spend your work time, you should know what hours those are for you. Therefore, it’s only logical that you should assign yourself your most difficult tasks, and the priorities, in those ultra-productive windows. That way, a task that would otherwise take you an entire morning could theoretically only consume half an afternoon, if that’s how you work. As most workers grow increasingly unproductive throughout the day, it makes sense to reserve the easiest tasks for the afternoon. You won’t have to channel the same level of energy into these tasks, while also ticking items off your list. These are just 10 ways you can increase productivity in the workplace. While these are useful tips you can enact in your everyday working life, it’s important to remember that productivity is primarily a state of mind. If you love your job and find your daily workload rewarding, you’ll likely be considerably more productive than someone who does not. If you’re struggling to maintain productivity across the working week, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and assess whether this position is really the right one for you, or perhaps consider that you are suffering from Burnout (just this week classified as a diagnosable illness by WHO).
10 Types Of Leadership Styles
10 Types Of Leadership Styles
1. Autocratic An autocratic leader is one who dictates all policies and procedures. Employees and team members have no say whatsoever in how things are done and are expected to follow the command and control of the leader. 2. Coaching This leadership style is about helping others to improve themselves and achieve their goals. They are there to provide guidance and counsel. This leadership style can only work if the follower is open to being advised. 3. Charismatic A charismatic leader is one often adored by their followers. Their undoubtable charisma and personality may lead people to follow their every word. They can be sometimes viewed as manipulative because their intentions may be often self-focused. 4. Transformational Transformational leadership is where a leader works with teams to identify a change that is needed, creates a vision and then guides their followers by inspiring them. A transformational leader won’t only assign tasks and goals but allow teams/ direct reports to decide their own goals to align with the overall company objectives. 5. Laissez-Faire This leadership style gives employees complete free reign with little or no supervision. This can lead to low productivity among staff. 6. Affiliative An affiliative leader promotes harmony among his or her followers and helps to resolve any conflict. This type of leader will also build teams and ensure their followers feel connected to one other. 7. Visionary This type of leader inspires others and really drives progression. They would be well respected among their peers and colleagues and they strive to encourage confidence in their direct reports and other colleagues. 8. Bureaucratic The bureaucratic leadership style was first described by Max Weber in 1947. The bureaucratic style is based on following normative rules and adhering to lines of authority. Bureaucratic leaders are similar to autocratic leaders in that they expect their team members to follow the rules and procedures precisely as instructed. 9. Transactional This form of leadership would be seen in a sales environment. Leaders will incentivise goals and give teams targets to achieve in order to gain reward. The incentive will usually be in the form of monetary and will be granted to staff if tasks are completed or if they reach the top 10 performers. 10. Democratic Leadership This type of leader is one that takes on board what other people have to say. A democratic leader allows and even encourages others to participate in decision making. Do you see any similarities in these leadership styles and the one in your company? Or do you recognise yourself as one of these leaders? Understanding these styles of leadership is a great way to realise what works and what doesn't in your company. It helps you to know the outcomes you want to achieve. Each leadership style encourages different types of performances so it’s good to know what one works best for you.
What’s The Cost Of A Bad Hire?
What’s The Cost Of A Bad Hire?
€13,100. Yes, seriously. A 2018 survey by Adare Human Resource Management estimates this to be the average price tag on a botched recruitment process in Ireland – and it’s only set to increase. With Irish business’s annual turnover exceeding the European average of 7.4% with a whopping 11%, and unemployment levels dropping to the lowest in a decade at 5.4%, it’s a jobseeker’s market and the pressure is on for companies to secure the best applicants in the shortest amount of time. It’s therefore impossible to overstate the financial benefits of using a recruiter to streamline the hiring process. Time is of the essence The longer a job vacancy remains open, the costlier it will be. The company is losing revenue every day that position remains unfilled. It is possible to work out roughly how much an open role costs a business using formula such as these. Recruiters work fast. They understand the interest in filling the vacancy as quickly as possible and act with a brisk efficiency enabled by years of practice in this specific field. Using a recruiter reduces the time it takes to find the candidate right for a position. Find the hidden gems It is getting increasingly competitive to secure strong applicants who are fielding rival offers from multiple companies, due to the aforementioned high turnover and low unemployment rates. However, using a recruiter taps into a category of contenders invisible to the untrained eye – passive candidates. Skilled workers who are not actively searching for a new job could be ideal applicants for a posting. According to a 2015 LinkedIn report, 70% of workers are not currently seeking a new job. Recruiters know how to seek these people out, widening the talent pool into a talent ocean! Save on Training A 2017 survey revealed that, on average, American businesses spend $1,886 training each new employee. Recruiters advise companies to hire candidates with the most experience and prior training available, reducing the amount businesses then have to spend on training them. Avoid a Bad Hire When you’re losing out on revenue each day from an empty position, it can be tempting to fill it as soon as possible with a candidate who may or may not be suitable for the role. However, that €13,100 figure is a strong argument for utilising all resources available to you to ensure that you select the right candidate – such as using a recruiter to streamline and advise your search.
How to Look After Your Mental Health in the Workplace
How to Look After Your Mental Health in the Workplace
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increase the burden: It is easier to say "My tooth is aching" than to say "My heart is broken".” – C.S. Lewis The month of May marks Mental Health Awareness Month around the world – a time for highlighting the key battles we have yet to fight in the war against the stigmatisation of mental health issues. A recent study by VHI revealed that almost 70% of Irish corporate employees admit to needing to look after their mental wellness more effectively, and 1 in 5 have missed work due to anxiety, depression or stress in the past year. It is always advisable to seek the advice of a professional if you have concerns about your mental health. However, there are small, yet effective, measures you can take to improve your wellbeing in the workplace that can spread into your personal life in a positive, affirming way. Work/Life Balance Sir Ken Robinson noted in his keynote speech at Sigmar’s Talent Summit 2018 that, although the invention of emails was promised to save us time, we have since found that, if anything, we are less and less able to leave work behind in the workplace. It is now part of most people’s routines to check their phones first thing in the morning and reply to work-related emails before leaving home, always thinking about what needs to be done that day. It’s important that you ‘work smart, not long.’ This means actively leaving work behind in the office, working efficiently during the day so you don’t feel compelled to continue with it after hours. If the quantity of work you are being expected to complete within working hours is too much to do so successfully, be sure to speak up and discuss the manageability of your workload with your supervisor. Communication is key – they’re going to keep piling on the work as long you stay quiet about how overwhelmed you are, so make sure you speak up and be heard before it becomes too much to handle. Employers won’t know where the pressure lies unless you tell them. If you’re unsure of how much your work life spills over into your personal life, why don’t you try keeping a log for a month? Jot down in a diary how many hours you work every day – not just when you’re sitting at your desk, but when you’re thinking about work at home, composing emails and returning calls out of hours. It may build a more objectively troubling picture than you can see currently from the inside. Make The Most Of Your Breaks Don’t be afraid to make the most of the breaks you are allotted at work. Once you’re on a roll, it’s tempting to power through lunchtime and eat at your desk, one eye always on your computer screen. Try and avoid doing this when you can. Take a walk, practise mindfulness or meditation, experience new places to eat, socialise with co-workers or friends who work nearby. “But I don’t have time to meditate!” I hear you exclaim. Yes, you do! ‘Meditation’ is not always synonymous with pulling on yoga pants, lighting up a stick of incense and adopting the lotus position. You can meditate absolutely anywhere – in a local park, at a café…even sitting at your desk! If you’re not confident leading your own meditation, you can find five-minute guided sessions free online, like this one here. There are also some great customisable apps you can get on your phone, such as Timer and Headspace. It is impossible to overvalue the importance of taking time to relax, clear your head and focus on your own wellbeing. You’ll find this re-energises you for the day ahead, as well as provide an invaluable opportunity to assess your current state of mind and mentally address any emotional concerns or anxieties. You may also be pleasantly surprised at how easily solutions pop into your head when you take just a few minutes to collect your thoughts. Communication This one works both ways for employers as well as employees. Communication is the key to destigmatising conversations about mental health. In his TEDx talk on workplace mental health, Tom Oxley says ‘you don’t make people unwell by talking about mental health – you give them the opportunity to speak out sooner’. There’s a flawed unspoken terror that speaking out about mental illness will somehow worsen the problem, as if it’s contagious or something you can conjure up into existence within your own mind. The reality is that many sufferers don’t feel able to speak up due to the prejudice surrounding their condition, and the fear that their workplace would not be supportive of them if they did so. The best way an employer can foster an atmosphere of positivity, health and wellbeing is to ensure that their workers know that they are free to talk openly about any feelings of stress, anxiety or depression and won’t face indirect penalisation for doing so. The first reaction of many employers is to offer a struggling staff member limited time off to recover, then expect them to return to work and continue as usual. While time off may be a solution for some employees, bosses should also consider the advantages of offering flexible working hours to affected workers. Tom Oxley strongly advocates for good communication practices between employers and employees to ensure that no one ever feels alienated from their place of work, and that anxieties don’t build up over time into uncontrollable crises. In turn, employees should communicate to their employers about their feelings on mental health in the workplace, as far as they feel comfortable to do so. Being transparent about how you’re feeling and what you need from your job to help you recover will give your boss the tools to help you in the way that’s most beneficial for you. If you are worried that taking time off would only serve to isolate you from the company, voice that concern. Your employer should want to get the very best out of you – they hired you for a reason. It’s in their interest to give you the support you need. Create a healthy routine Studies have consistently proven a strong link between mental health and physical health, and specialists are adamant that one of the best ways to maintain good mental wellbeing is to look after your physical welfare. Your job may be intellectually demanding, with long hours and difficult tasks you have to tackle each day, taking a toll on your mental health. This also likely means your job is sedentary. Indeed, scientists have connected the rise in global obesity to the increasing number of jobs that don’t require any form of physical activity. You may be hard pressed to find the time to exercise during a busy work week, but it’s important you look after your body – it will only beneficially impact your mental wellbeing. Take a stroll during your lunchbreak, do 30 mins of yoga before work, or even try training for a half marathon over the course of a few months. Be sure to stock up your desk drawer with nutritious snacks rather than sugary ones, such as nuts, fruit and protein bars. Snacknation has published an extensive list of delicious office snack ideas if you’re dry on inspiration. These are just a few ways you can work to ensure your mental wellbeing in the workplace, which will in turn hopefully boost your productivity, energy and, ultimately, happiness. While mental health is something we can’t always necessarily control, we can impact the way in which we talk about it, breaking down the harmful social barriers that currently thwart constructive discussions on preventative measures.