A new report analyzes the current workplace culture throughout the construction industry, including at subcontracting companies such as glazing contractors. It aims to shed light on employee retention and productivity amid the labor shortage. According to FireStarter Speaking & Consulting’s 2019 People in Construction Report, only 63% of all respondents reported being set up for success every day despite feeling they have the right materials and equipment to do their job. This disconnect is due to lack of information, frequent changes in plan, labor challenges and lack of coordination with other trades. In fact, 73% of contractors surveyed cited not having people to do the job as the main reason problems arise.

The Field-Office Divide

The report analyzes the divide between project management in the office and field supervision on the jobsite. According to the report, technology has made it easier for office staff to stay in the office, increasing the rift between the two parties. However, that’s not the only factor creating a divide.

“There was a time when some of those in project management came from the field, but that is less often the case now. Field supervisors tend to stay in the field. Project managers start as project engineers right out of college; they have less field time,” reads the report.

When asked questions about their thoughts on the leadership of their company and fellow employees, office and field workers had different opinions.

I have a close friend at work.81%50%
I have confidence in leadership of this organization.83%68%
Leaders live by the core values of the organization.81%62%
I trust what my boss tells me.89%75%
I am able to maintain a reasonable work-life balance.75%50%
I like the people I work with.75%50%

Jobsite Safety

Safety ranked as a top priority for 90% of contractors surveyed, however this number was lowest at the executive level at 85% compared to 97% of office operations and 93% of field supervision who said safety was a top priority.

According to the report, 78% of total contractors surveyed said they work safely consistently, but only 68% of field supervision said the same. In the office, 78% of all respondents and 75% of executives report working safety consistently.

The majority of respondents said attempts at change often fall short. Executives confessed to these failings at a level of 73%, field supervision at 62% and office operations at 59%.

Values and Trust

When it comes to business values, 90% of respondents agreed that ignoring core values will get you in trouble. According to the report, the most visible way to manifest core values is to enforce them across the board without a double standard.

Of respondents surveyed, 84% said they would recommend working at their company to a friend and 83% said that if given the chance, they would reapply for their current jobs.

Another positive indicator for the construction industry is the lack of respondents who said they are micromanaged: 10% of office supervision and 12% of field supervision. However, 17% of executive leadership said they were micromanaged.

“Ninety percent of respondents agree on this statement: My supervisor treats me fairly. This is very encouraging, and exactly what you would hope for from firms that are doing well with creating a positive workplace culture,” reads the report.


A third of respondents and 43% of office staff surveyed said they had more to give when asked if they were working at full capacity. The report states that when an under-challenged and disengaged person starts to perform poorly, most organizations will blame them rather than consider the boss or the bored employee’s relationship with that boss.

“In fact, PeopleFit cites 52% of boss/employee relationships are not matched optimally. Twenty-five percent of the time, the boss has the same capacity as the employee, and 27% of the time they are at a higher level and cannot relate to the employee in a way that helps the employee do the job better,” reads the report. “This finding underscores the idea that, rather than blaming the employee for performance or discipline issues, perhaps we should first evaluate the supervisor. We’ve all seen cases in which a failing worker is moved to a different crew, and soon they become a star on their new team. Same worker, different boss.”


FireStarter Speaking and Consulting is a Raleigh, N.C.-based leadership consultancy with a focus on non-residential construction. The online survey was offered to construction professionals worldwide. Nearly 500 respondents completed the 48-question survey between December 2018 and January 2019. Of those respondents, 83% are located in the U.S., 13% in Canada, 2% in South America and 1% in Asia.