Employers are still on the learning curve and the industry has shown strong signs of agility and adaptability. One cannot call this industry traditional in its approach anymore.

What is the first thought that comes to anyone’s mind when one speaks about the building materials industry? Often, people associate this sector with traditional practices, both from an operational perspective as well as from an employment perspective. However, this is fast changing as technology is taking a front row in the operation of this business. Not only this, employers are also realigning their people policies and hiring strategies to adapt with the rapidly changing times. Much of this was also fuelled by the Covid-19 lockdown, which completely altered the dynamics of the sector. Let’s take a closer look at the five key aspects that employers had to re-look at:

1. Incorporation of Work from Home: Remote working was completely nil in this sector, as it predominantly involved manufacturing of products and on-the site discussions. But this was not an option when the pandemic compelled everyone to return to the safety of their homes. Employers understood the situation and took the most appropriate action. They had to take additional measures to provide necessary infrastructure (like computers, laptops etc) to employees. More than the structural challenge, the complexity was to align teams together, sync individual tasks and ensure productivity. The industry had successfully managed, in fact, the industry bounced back with the pre-Covid level revenues and production figures within a short span of time.

2. A shift towards niche skills: For any industry, the employability of its workforce is the most important aspect. In fact, the pandemic made companies realise the value of skills like never before and today employers are more inclined toward hiring people with niche skills. Building material sector was also not far away from this and companies have now started to look for talent who have a 360-degree grasp of their roles. For example, in a building materials industry, while hiring people for production roles, employers expect them to have domain knowledge, technological capabilities, crisis management skills, people management skills amongst others. One of the other crucial aspects in this industry is hiring for design and product conceptualization requirements. In this regard, employers are hiring people who have a holistic view of designing – they know all modern design techniques and approaches, they are equipped to manage technologies like Autocad, Revit, to name a few, they understand aesthetics and contemporary requirements, among other aspects.

3. Re-looking at how one manages the migrant workforce: As we are aware, this sector has a good portion of blue-collar migrant workers. During the lockdown, worker morale was largely affected as factories and logistics were at a standstill. This made employers realize the need to have a natured and evolved contingency strategy. In times like this, personalized connect works wonders for employers and employees – staying in constant touch, updating the workforce regularly and keeping their morale high is crucial. Now, even though the ecosystem has eased, employers will have to continue to invest in developing strategies so that organisations are prepared for the unexpected adversities like these that may or may not arise in the future. Focusing on long-term vision, instead of a short one, helps the manpower in aligning their efforts for a bigger goal. A resilient attitude keeps the workforce motivated and helps in bracing themselves for the unforeseen situations that future might bring.

4. Upskilling more crucial than ever: The lockdown was sudden and so was the shift to remote working and this clearly called out that one cannot be negligent about skilling the workforce. You can’t have employees say that they don’t know how to work with a certain software or they don’t know how to address a function/requirement. Companies now are increasingly focused on continuous upskilling of the workforce. In the future, upskilling will not just focus on domain knowledge and technology, but also on emotional intelligence, people management, crisis management, behavioural skills, mental health awareness etc.

5. Working in the post-pandemic world: Just because the economy has started to open up, can we call it the post-pandemic world? Not really! Covid still continues to be a health concern and organisations, as well as individuals, are learning to function around the pandemic. After the lockdown, when employees returned to work, HR teams had a mountainous task to ensure proper sanitisation measures were taken, temperature check was made mandatory for everyone, social distancing norms were set and sanitizers were installed at the workstations in offices and factories. In fact, training sessions were also conducted to increase self-awareness and enable self-management. These measures will still have to be followed at a different degree to avoid any disruption and casualties.

Employers are still on the learning curve and the industry has shown strong signs of agility and adaptability. One cannot call this industry traditional in its approach anymore. Everyone is and will be looking at new best practices and better workplace strategies and building materials industry will not shy away from adopting it. In fact, the industry has the power and hence may even set a few best practices that other industries can adopt.

The author, Aparna Reddy, is Executive Director at Aparna Enterprises.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHRWorld does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHRWorld will not be responsible for any damage caused to any person or organisation directly or indirectly.