Part I: What’s company culture and why are we paying more attention to it?

E&C professionals discussing company culture onsite.

Part I: Company culture has become a marketable brand— and organizations within engineering and construction (E&C) are no exception. That said, the definition of workplace culture depends entirely on whom you ask.

What’s company culture, anyway?

The workplace shouldn’t be a place that employees dread. Annual workplace market studies rate the best companies to work for, and the ‘why’ is often largely determined by company culture.

The Harvard Business Journal’s ‘When to Fire a Top Performer Who Hurts Your Company Culture’ suggests company culture acts “as a moral compass by teaching employees to not only do the right thing, but to do it the right way.”

Company culture can dictate how attractive your organization looks to valuable new recruits and innovators. A high-performing workplace environment also encourages employees to speak up regarding safety or design issues and to prevent accidents.

Empowered employees enjoy their jobs— and even the challenges they face— if the culture is right.

Organizations who nurture and raise awareness of their workplace culture contribute to their company’s expertise, efficiency, and profitability. How can those in the E&C industry learn how to cultivate an empowering company culture to further strengthen their organization?

Focus on the Employee

Most organizations aim to retain talent. They understand that finding, cultivating, and promoting talent from within their organization can be immensely profitable.

For example, it’s not uncommon in the software industry for a network or application engineer to be promoted to a Director or VP role. Employees are often inclined to develop their talents elsewhere if their organization focuses only on lateral promotions.

The aging workforce factor is also affecting company culture because many experts are quickly approaching retirement. A younger workforce is much quicker at adopting and embracing change— particularly when it comes to technology.

Empowering the Subject Matter Expert (SME)

The E&C industry is increasingly creating new roles within organizations to support technological advances, and some existing roles are being redefined. For example, 10 years ago, a ‘BIM Coordinator’ role was roughly equivalent to a CADD Designer— creating and managing 3D models.

Today, the 2.0 version of BIM Coordinator is a far more prominent role. BIM Coordinators are responsible for planning the metadata that will be incorporated into the model in addition to developing a communication strategy to help establish efficient and repeatable processes.

Many similar roles require additional responsibility. E&C organizations who want to practice Lean Construction or Workface Planning must recognize these new roles and create a culture of empowered SMEs versus a traditional hierarchical management style.

Mature organizations who’re adopting BIM are automating model creation, with each design communicating what’s required to achieve a specific process. This cultural shift to automation has a tremendously positive effect on attracting talent.

Workplace culture: Perks and Work-Life Balance

Studies have proven that overworked and stressed employees are more prone to make mistakes. However, deadlines will continue to be a way of life in the construction industry.

Many organizations, fortunately, are addressing stressful work environments by enabling employees to connect with one another internally. Employees access internal communication streams like Yammer, Chatter, and Slack to create groups for virtual sports leagues, corporate challenges, walks, runs, or triathlon teams.

These activities are an invaluable way to develop a spirit of unity and teamwork. For example, my local office recently organized an outing to a Top Golf facility for team-building. Employee excursions help not only foster relations between colleagues, but also help strengthen company culture overall.

Read more about Oracle’s Aconex company culture here.

Stay tuned for ‘Part II: What is company culture and why are we paying more attention to it?’

Ray Roske

Ray Roske

Industry Consultant, Client Services at Oracle's Aconex
Ray Roske is an Industry Consultant at Oracle's Aconex, a leading collaborative construction and engineering management software
Ray Roske