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Why Are Construction Workers The Happiest Employees?

Here's why the construction industry has the happiest employees and how your industry can replicate it.

If you think you’re content toiling away at your desk, crunching data, or hammering out the details of a grand design, try asking a construction worker or facility service employee if they ever whistle while they work.

The answer will change your perspective about getting excited for work everyday.

According to TINYpulse's 2015 Best Industry Ranking report, gathered from its anonymous one-question feedback surveys from over 30,000 employees across more than 500 organizations, among 12 distinct industries, construction and facility service workers are the happiest employees.

Next in line were consumer products, technology, and software. Telecom, energy, and utilities are grouped together, coming in fourth place. Health care rounded out the top five. Manufacturing brought up the rear in last place.

Construction On The Rise

It’s important to note that the construction industry—both residential and commercial—is bouncing back from a recession low of $716.9 billion, or 4.9% of GDP, in 2010. Three years later, it was up to $925.4 billion, or 5.8% of GDP. Likewise, 70% of what the U.S. produces is for personal consumption, making for a strong consumer product sector.

On a macroeconomic scale, this steady growth is definitely a mood booster, as it contributes to job creation and higher salaries. Who isn’t happy to get a bit more dough in their paycheck?

But before you decide to ditch your keyboard and go buy a tool belt—or a lawn mower, as landscapers were among this group—the survey team at TINYpulse recommends taking a closer look at what actually drives workplace satisfaction, and what makes people unhappy.

TINYpulse surveys revealed the top three issues standing in the way of happy employees were:

  1. Managers who aren’t supportive
  2. Not having the tools to succeed
  3. No opportunity for professional growth

Nearly half, or 49% of employees said a negative relationship with their supervisor factored in to their overall dissatisfaction. Though many manufacturing facilities have evolved into well-lit, clean, and highly technical environments, Dan Davis, editor in chief of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, commented on dissatisfaction among the ranks of the industry. He says that the lack of routine safety meetings could send a message to staff that their employer doesn’t care what happens to them.

A president of another facility that got high marks for employee satisfaction advised: "Always ask for their thoughts on how to solve a problem. Always follow up with people on their ideas for improvement."

According to TINYpulse’s recent culled from responses to its anonymous feedback surveys, 26% of employees say they are frustated by the lack of tools they could use to do their jobs better. More than half, or 66% of all employees don’t feel they have strong opportunities for professional growth for two reasons—staff isn’t always aware of what might be available to them, as well as a lack of training and mentorship.

In the construction industry, a variety of organizations offer coaching and career mentorship to students. Once they're ready for the workforce, the industry has a long history of providing new workers with apprenticeships so they can learn the skills required to move on to tackle more challenging work.

Supportive Colleagues = Happy Employees

But skills, tools, and sensitive supervisors do not guarantee happiness. A big boost to job satisfaction was rooted in good relationships with colleagues. recently revealed that, especially among millennials, work friendships were both mood boosting and motivating.

Indeed, the TINYpulse industry survey found that 34% of the happiest employees say their peers and colleagues are what drive their workplace satisfaction, and rated them an 8.5 out of 10.

In the report, Jay Walter, general manager of JWH Group, an Australian home-building company, summed up the overall effect on happiness the industry has on its workers.

"This is an industry that has many walks of life with people working in an office to people out on site," he says. "One thing that unites everybody at the end of the day is kicking back for a little bit with a few beers and talking stuff out—the good and the bad. If people have an issue, they will come see a manager during office hours, but sometimes the best environment is when people can relax a bit and just have a drink alongside a manager."