Although true on so many levels, never has there been such an ironic headline to an article. In fact, our headline depicts two different aspects from one of the most valued industries in the UK. As a marketing company that has worked very closely with construction companies over the past 6 years, it has provided us with great insight into this fickle and unforgiving industry we love. I’d like to share my thoughts on both aspects of ‘the changing landscape’.
Firstly, it’s very much Autumn 2019, and the rumble of construction seems to be all around us. Everywhere we look there are building projects that are quite literally changing the landscape around us. It seems wherever we look, new developments, homes and apartment blocks are being built in virtually every village, town and city across our green and pleasant land. Add to this, the rise of commercial developments and business parks in previously untapped regions outside of our largest conurbations, it does appear that this is keeping the construction job market relatively stable.
Paradoxically, as home-owners, we also find ourselves amid challenging times of affordability, whereby our economy has spawned a whole new breed of audience (dubbed ‘generation rent’). The government and housing companies are doing their best to redress the balance with numerous schemes such as ‘help-to-buy’ and ‘shared ownership’ programs, however only time will tell if the housing market will prove successful, but this brings me nicely to my second point.
The only way is up
Over the years, the construction industry probably sits near the top of the ‘challenging times’ league, and whilst many may argue it has reaped what it has sowed, green shoots are certainly on the horizon. The much publicised ‘wrongs’ in the construction have had plenty of air-time in the last 36 months, so let’s ask ourselves, what does a positive future for the construction industry look like?
Probably the two most notable changes in construction are ‘unity’ and ‘mind shift’ – let’s delve deeper. Not so long ago, the industry had a very formulaic structure; main contractors sitting at the top and managing the projects, and sub-contractors making up the many tiers of trade and service. This often led to a ‘them and us’ culture, and over time, the cracks began to appear, revealing a very disconnected sector. However, as the song once lamented “things are a-changing”.
Now more than ever the industry is trying to feel more united, more together, more connected. Don’t get me wrong, it has a very long way to go, but this is where mind shift comes in. Larger corporations and main contractors are beginning to embrace the notion that ‘community starts at home’. Some of these companies now actively promote the sharing of knowledge and working-together, with all parts of the supply chain as their business strategy. Some are bringing previously excluded partners into their fold, realising that change needs to be the result of the sum of all parts working together. Suddenly, the notion of collaboration is not only bringing in a more optimistic mentality, it also brings a much-needed boost promoting construction as a great industry to work in, and therefore beginning the long road back in filling the widely publicised skills gap.
So, what does all this mean? Firstly, the news about our industry is more welcoming and certainly more positive. It’s also more inclusive than ever, with businesses of all sizes being open about mental health awareness and the need for a better work-life balance. This is where our own business has seen such a change. We are seeing that construction businesses (no matter their size), are really seeing the benefit of building well-thought business and marketing strategies. They are beginning to look inwards at their people and their culture, and not just outwards for sales and turnover. Suddenly, marketing has a broader role to play, connecting business philosophy, people and culture to their collective business strategies. Companies are building better propositions to support their business narratives, which in turn creates more awareness, purpose and empathy.
In many ways, marketing now has a huge job to do, and with a much brighter outlook on the industry to come, we relish the challenge to help influence and build a more connected future.
Founder & CEO – Brand Elect