People & Leadership

Want advice on being happy at work? Talk with a construction worker!

It was confirming to see the recent Fast Company article outlining which industries have the happiest employees. Construction topped the list! Yet another reason why more people should consider career opportunities in this growing and vital industry.

The article revolved around the TINYPulse 2015 Best Industry Ranking report, which mined over 30,000 employee responses from more than 500 companies. According to TINYhr, the company that conducted the research, the report “unearthed startling findings of the happiest (and unhappiest) industries out there.”

Now, I haven’t read the entire report but I can’t say I was “startled” that construction leads the way for happiest workers. In fact, I wasn’t surprised one bit. Over the years, I’ve talked and worked with lots of people who build—or maintain buildings—for a living. Construction is no walk in the park but those who’ve taken on the challenge are proud of what they do. After all, how many people do you know who can point to a city landmark, new bridge, a popular restaurant, a beautiful home and say, “I built that.”

There’s a lot to be said about enjoying work that provides a sense of participation and accomplishment. “In construction, workers are all part of a team involved in the planning and safe execution of the work, said Steve Tenney, CFO of Story Construction, when I asked him why construction workers are the happiest. “They are all working towards a common goal and can see the results of the completed project.”

Lydia Dishman, the author of the Fast Company’s article, also brought up two other areas where I believe construction has a happiness advantage:

  • Providing the tools to succeed
  • Offering opportunity for professional growth

As Dishman points out, the construction industry offers a variety of coaching and career mentorship opportunities to students and has a long history of providing apprenticeships to prepare workers for more challenging work. As I see it, those opportunities will only increase as the industry looks for ways to meet the growing demand for skilled workers.

I also feel professional growth deserves another check on the plus side for construction. Unlike some other industries, you don’t necessarily have to have a college degree to see a rewarding career path.  Construction is an industry that values field experience.  And while a college level construction education is a great entry point, trade workers with the right stuff also have a shot at moving up the ladder into the field and even upper management roles.

Happiness in the workplace is a combination of many different factors: from a sense of accomplishment to proper training and career opportunities, to respect of the company leadership and among co-workers. It appears construction offers the package deal.

Why do you think construction workers are the happiest?