Why Ethics and Attitude are the Most Effective Tools You’ll Ever Use on the Job (and, maybe, in life)

This article was featured in The Georgia Contractor’s latest issue.  Click Here to read the issue in its entirety.

My exposure to construction over the past several years has been life changing.

Part of this exposure, for me, was accidental. The remainder was, and continues to be, 100% of my own volition. Given my penchant for reading and writing -combined with a strong preference for the enjoyment of these activities to occur within climate-controlled environments- the construction industry was not what I had in mind for myself when I arrived at a career crossroads some years ago. Yet, here I find myself, still involved in the industry, still learning about it, and still hungry to grow within it.

My first official construction project was not large, nor was it my own; but my attitude won me an opportunity to work on a covered tool shed project with an experienced builder. It provided me with a chance to learn, a chance to earn, and a sense of accomplishment that I could enjoy both individually, and as part of a team. I also assembled a veritable lexicon of construction tool terminology and industry jargon, nursed many sore muscles (many muscles, indeed), made a few mistakes; but, most importantly, went home intact each day. The following summer, because of my work ethic, that same builder gave me another opportunity to work on a couple of additional small projects. (I’m guessing my attitude wasn’t too terrible, the previous year). These experiences, while limited in their scope, helped to shape my outlook on life, my personal philosophy on hard work, and to discover a deeper understanding of safety, both in an occupational sense and a personal sense.

Now, while construction is where my passion lies, I’m not naïve to the fact that someone reading this might have zero interest pursuing a career in the construction industry. Or, may already be progressing along a promising career path. This message is for you, too.


It all starts with the person in the mirror.

When we consider that most projects require some set of tools to get a job accomplished, it’s easy to forget that not all tools brought to the job, are ones that we can physically hold in our hands. In fact, two of the most important tools we will ever have in our personal and professional lives reside not in equipment belts or supply rooms, but in our heads; and, also, in our hearts. As a human race we develop these tools differently and at different rates. Directed, influenced, and in many ways, sculpted by our own life experiences, the attitudes we exhibit in our interactions with people -guided by an internal ethical and moral ‘compass’- have tremendous potential to set life changing events into motion, both positive and negative in nature. Metaphorically speaking, for many, life moves alongside this developmental spectrum with an unlimited bandwidth. Since personal and professional growth are never guaranteed to occur on identical or parallel schedules, many find in life that they must mature personally before they can advance professionally. The rate and degree of that developmental progress is unique to each person, almost like a behavioral (and emotional) fingerprint. 

What does ethics really mean to me?

Ethics are essentially principles by which we operate or live. They are necessary for many environments to maintain harmony and equity. They represent the written (and sometimes, unwritten, yet universally recognized) rules which govern our behaviors in situations where we are required to interact either courteously or professionally, with and around other people. A strong foundation in ethics can promote and accelerate career advancement; and, can also bode well for job security. It can also promote the longevity of healthy, productive, and mutually beneficial relationships. Living by a code of personal integrity, showing respect for elders (parents, educators, workplace veterans, military veterans), adherence to safety rules, regulations and procedures, these are all ways in which we demonstrate our personal code of ethics.

These examples of simply being a decent human, require no expense of personal energy or finances.   

Ethics are also lessons taught in homes, schools, and businesses around the world. It is truly a universal subject.    

We begin taking lessons on ethics early in life, often before we recognize it’s happening. You can take academic courses on business ethics, legal ethics and the like, well into adulthood; but it is parents who typically lay the groundwork. Some provide their children with a solid ethical foundation, where others are less capable of doing so. The safety net, we hope, are families; and, equally important, the educational systems through which we learn how to function in the world around us. Public schools, private colleges and universities, technical schools and vocational academies, don’t just teach subjects and skills. They teach ethics, too.  In conjunction with -but, unfortunately, sometimes in lieu of- the parents, educators can help carry that torch, keeping that beacon of hope for the future of society shining brightly.

On a personal level, many of us got our first lessons in professional work ethic around the household. I can personally recall -with little fondness, I might add- a magnitude of ethics lessons from my childhood, commonly referred to today, as household chores. This theme continued for me throughout adolescence and into young adulthood, with schoolteachers and professors building upon that ethical inventory through a seemingly endless barrage of projects and homework assignments. Does any of this sound familiar?

Have you ever missed the bus or arrived late to school or work because of oversleeping? Missed out on an opportunity because of procrastination? Sometimes, we can even teach ourselves lessons in work ethic (including the critical importance of time management).     

There may be a more mysterious reason than we all realize, behind why the words attitude, aptitude, and altitude, are separated by just one letter in the alphabet. It is often thought that by making small, deliberate changes, one can eventually affect a world of difference. The angle of your career (or life) trajectory could change dramatically with a subtle adjustment in your attitude, or a small improvement to your work ethic. Maybe you need to study a new topic or learn a new skill to earn a promotion; or re-read a book section before taking a make-or-break exam. Just remember that next step along your path to success might not reveal itself before your attitude and ethics illuminate the road ahead. It may not be readily apparent; but you’ve been preparing for that next goal in your life for years, already.

So, what are you waiting for???

By: Ryan Boling, Director of Training, HB NEXT


Complimentary COVID-19 Action Plan

HB NEXT understands the impact of the COVID-19 in the workplace.  So in order to reduce the impact of COVID-19 we want to give you some complimentary COVID-19 preparation tips.

Stay Informed

Stay abreast of guidance from federal, state, local, tribal, and/or territorial health agencies. Follow federal and state, local, tribal, and/or territorial (SLTT) recommendations regarding development of contingency plans for situations that may arise as a result of outbreaks, such as:

  • Increased rates of worker absenteeism.
  • The need for social distancing, staggered work shifts, downsizing operations, delivering services remotely, and other exposure-reducing measures.
  • Options for conducting essential operations with a reduced workforce, including cross-training workers across different jobs in order to continue operations or deliver surge services.
  • Interrupted supply chains or delayed deliveries.

Protecting Workers

For most employers, protecting workers will depend on emphasizing basic infection prevention measures. As appropriate, all employers should implement good hygiene and infection control practices, including:

  • Promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing workers, customers, and worksite visitors with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
  • Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Provide customers and the public with tissues and trash receptacles.
  • Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible.
  • Maintain regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment. When choosing cleaning chemicals, employers should consult information on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved disinfectant labels with claims against emerging viral pathogens. Products with EPA approved emerging viral pathogens claims are expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use of all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, PPE).

Proper response to the current pandemic is vital for all our clients.  We want to provide you with a comprehensive COVID-19 Safety Guideline document to help protect you and your company.  If you have any questions about proper practices or guidelines contact us right away.

Click Here to Download Complimentary COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

Outsourcing Your Employee Training: Educational Revolution, or Evolution?

Why partnership with a third-party education provider could be one of the best decisions you’ll make

If you have worked in the construction industry for long enough, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard the saying -or some variation of- “an educated workforce, is a safe workforce”. It’s difficult to argue; given that, at the heart of most incidents, is a lack of sufficient training.

All companies experience challenges with their training, from the initial on-boarding and orientation of their newest employees, to the continuing education and certifications of their senior-most leaders. In a perfect world, employees would regularly seek to satisfy their job-specific training without financial encouragement, demonstrating initiative, professional curiosity, and a genuine interest in their own personal and professional development. In the real world, many companies have to pay their employees while they learn how to do their jobs; and, this creates an economic condition that unfortunately goes hand-in-hand with some risky and potentially dangerous decision-making.

To train, or not to train?

Budgets will be budgets; and, it’s universally accepted that in the spirit of self-preservation, companies will cut expenses in one area, to realize gains -or, alternatively, to alleviate pains- in another. When you’ve gotten away with avoiding a responsibility (more than a few times), it’s easy to think that you can continue to avoid it, right? Where many companies fall short with regard to their employee training, is not exclusively attributable to consistency in execution, as some might be inclined to presume. Yes, it’s true- many companies procrastinate; and, in other cases, blatantly ignore their responsibility to provide formal job and hazard-specific training to their employees. However, the trouble with employee training in many companies is generally not an issue of employer desire, as much as it is an issue of employer flexibility and versatility. And, that degree of flexibility / versatility has to be considered in terms of both manpower and finances.

If you were to publicly poll the owners of a hundred different companies, you likely would not have difficulty counting close to a hundred resounding ‘YES’ replies, assuming the question was centered around the safety of the workforce being a company’s highest priority.

Now, take that same group of one hundred owners, and change the question to be centered around whether the training of the workforce should be a company’s highest priority. Would you count a similar number of ‘YES’ replies?

They are both of critical importance to a company- safety and training, aren’t they? Is one more important than the other? Can either one be achieved without at least mentioning the other? These are some of the questions and decisions that business owners have to wrestle with, to balance compliance along with the well-being of the workforce and the health of the company finances. Most all companies desire to adequately and effectively train their employees. Not all companies find this responsibility to be convenient or budget-friendly, because they lack the overall flexibility and versatility to respond to training needs either pro-actively, or, with a sense of urgency. Training either costs too much; or, a company cannot spare the manpower to schedule training; or, sometimes, you’ll even see a combination of both. Sadly, in these cases, both the company and the employees suffer. Silently, the industry at-large, also suffers. So, what’s the solution, then?

Lean on Me?

Again, budgets will be budgets.

A simple solution (on the surface) for a company to shield themselves from training costs that exceed their budget, is for that company to exclusively deliver their employee training in-house. This approach yields several benefits; yet, also, may carry with it some obscure pitfalls that can have a balloon-like effect on budgets.

In theory, the most experienced personnel within a company are the most logical choices to train and develop the workforce. However, typically, that vast experience also represents the busiest and least flexible personnel within a company. And, unfortunately, experience does not directly translate in a classroom environment to capability, willingness, readiness, or (here we go again) desire. You may have the smartest, most highly-trained, credentialed and certified leaders in the country managing operations for your company. A field superintendent in construction can have over three decades of experience building structures, while at the same time, having zero years’ experience in a classroom environment teaching others how to build structures.

In a nutshell, great builders… great leaders… great managers… don’t always make great teachers. You can save plenty of money by not paying ‘outsiders’ to train and develop your personnel; but, how much may it end up costing you to educate -and, motivate– one of your own to step into that potentially (and likely) unfamiliar role? How long will it take them to become proficient in this new role? How quickly can you replace their production? How effective can your company training program, or, your safety and health program really be, with inexperienced trainers educating the employees of your company?

We all need somebody to lean on, don’t we?

In construction, carrying loads, even very heavy ones, can be made easy when the proper conditions, personnel and equipment are in place.

Employee training is not terribly different; which begs the question, “Why purchase the help, when you can grow it organically?”

While keeping employee training in-house may be a cost-effective solution, without a proper, manageable training and credentialing program in place, companies expose themselves to levels of risk that can very quickly render their cost-saving efforts ineffective. Naturally, companies with greater financial latitude, have greater maneuverability to avoid the financial pitfalls. One easily overlooked pitfall for companies who elect to keep their training in-house, is legal liability. In construction, when accidents happen and people get hurt -outside of providing the appropriate medical care- assignment of responsibility (or, blame, rather) is generally at the top of the list of consequent actions.

When your people get hurt; and, it is determined that you were responsible for delivering their training, you can rest assured that the wolves of compliance will feverishly pursue the root cause, starting at your establishment’s front door. If your safety and training programs are underdeveloped when faced with managing an employee injury or fatality, you can prepare to buckle up for a long, uncomfortable and expensive ride through the legal system. Or, you can choose to partner with an expert that understands your company operations, has the experience to relate to your struggles, understands the industry you work in, and, one that has an assortment of products, services, and solutions that can be quickly adapted to fit your company’s varied degrees of flexibility and versatility.

Well, what’s the best solution for my company?

In conclusion, the mechanics of your company training program can be, and should be, uncomplicated.

A company’s workforce must be sufficiently and regularly trained to maintain active compliance with the federal, state, and local rules applicable to their operations. You have a responsibility to offer initial training; and, you have a responsibility to offer re-training, when necessary. Simple, right? With the pace at which the construction industry is currently moving, agility in training deployment is critical to keeping the workforce safe; and, providing them with the ongoing training and education that is relevant to their work, and current with the most up-to-date industry rules and regulations.

For companies that do not have full-fledged training or education departments, manufacturing that agility internally, is not as simple (or, inexpensive) to achieve as it might appear. To address this challenge, companies have to make an honest self-assessment of their program(s). Some companies may benefit more from having electronic or online training options, because their crews lack the flexibility to attend training during a regular work week. Some companies strongly believe in, and demand instructor-led training for their employees. Some companies would be more than happy to incorporate both types of training to build versatility into their existing program; but have limitations imposed on their budgets which preclude that ability. Some companies lack the technological capabilities or square footage to deliver training to their employees in an appropriate setting.

The list of restrictions and limitations are seemingly endless; yet, the requirement to operate safely while in compliance never really changes, does it?

The most effective solution for your company, will be the one which enables you to quickly respond to your employees’ training needs, without sacrificing your budgets, schedules, quality, leadership or productivity. As the industry evolves and continues to integrate technology to improve operational efficiencies and increase profits, your ideal training solution may be in the form of online training, instructor-led training, or -what you can expect to see gain popularity in the future- the adoption of pre-developed course-ware customized to your company’s operations and/or brand.

If your company needs help implementing or evaluating its current training program, HB NEXT can help. To learn more about solutions for optimizing your company’s training program, please contact HB NEXT today.

Avoiding Friendly Fire on the Job: Understanding the Risks Posed by an Undertrained Workforce

When budgets get tight -and let’s face it, most of us have experienced that crunch at one point or another- we naturally start looking for ways to curtail our spending and to eliminate those expenses we deem non-essential, or, just unnecessary altogether.

Nothing triggers the need for a detailed analysis of a company’s finances quite like a blown budget, or, an unexpected loss of revenue / profit can. In construction, budgets are often tight; and, as a result, decisions have to be made frequently that force leaders to make difficult choices between multiple necessities that, of course, are not exactly budget-friendly.

So, what happens then?

Historically (in times of lesser economic prosperity), safety and training-related expenses have been among the first line items on a budget to undergo some type of change. Sometimes, those changes are small, insignificant… Other times, change can represent a total departure from the spending allocated to those expenses and expenditures which are generally considered essential to a construction company’s day-to-day operations. In an industry that suffers from hundreds of fatalities -and even more injuries- annually, can companies really afford to short-fund their budgets for safety and training? Well, surprisingly, the answer is yes; and, depending on who else you ask, the answer is also a resounding NO.

Training in the construction industry can be both economical and budget-friendly; but it is rarely inexpensive for companies to train their employees. When considering the cost of hiring a certified or credentialed trainer, productivity loss (from the workers being out of the office or field) and the cost of paying employees to physically attend training, a company sometimes has to decide whether that safety course is an immediate must-have; or, if maybe it can wait for a while. And, until disaster strikes, that’s (normally) a safe gamble. Until it isn’t…

An undertrained workforce is a potentially unsafe workforce.

In an economic climate where time equals money, construction companies have the exceedingly difficult challenge of meeting intense budget and scheduling demands, while keeping everyone safe; and, without cutting any corners on quality or compliance.

While many of the construction trades offer thorough and ongoing task training for their workforce -which includes some trade-specific safety- that training is often, unfortunately, not focused on compliance with the safety regulations applicable to our industry. This sometimes leads to companies adopting a false sense of security with regard to the training they offer to their personnel. Because turnover in the industry can often force the need for a new associate’s training to be fast-tracked, companies will often pair new laborers with technician or journey-level craftspeople to help those new associates get ‘up to speed’. A common result of crash-course training such as this, is that associates will learn the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of their tasks and responsibilities; but will often neglect -until later- to learn the ‘why’. And, in construction, not knowing the ‘whys’ behind a task can be potentially dangerous; and sometimes, even fatal. The buddy system, while proven successful over time, does have limits to its effectiveness as it relates to educating around accident prevention. Quite simply, you can’t be effectively prepared to manage hazards that you haven’t been trained to recognize, avoid, or eliminate.

Ignorance of the rules is never an acceptable excuse.

While many knowledge gaps can be addressed for workers by spending time with and observing a skilled technician or journeyperson at work, there must be some formal, structured classroom training to supplement and reinforce the training offered on-the-job. As the old saying goes: if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.  In the case of unsafe acts / conditions that lead to injuries or fatalities on the job, a lack of job or task-specific knowledge resulting in the harm (or, death) of a worker can be ruinously expensive for a company that is otherwise financially healthy. As many companies are recognizing this and are starting to be proactive in providing essential training for their employees, many companies are still training their employees reactively; and, only when faced with suspended work or legal action, do they really start taking it seriously.

Beware of (and, supportive of) the Newly-Hired Employee

New employees -often being eager to please, and, to demonstrate their value to a company- can inadvertently help or harm a company with their individual level(s) of training (or, lack thereof). Most of us know what it feels like to be asked a question that we don’t know the answer to; but at the same time, not wanting to appear unknowledgeable in front of a group of our peers and/or superiors. And because of this fear, with the nod of a head, many of us at some point in life, have openly proclaimed our knowledge of an unfamiliar task, topic, or rule as if we’ve known it for years. It a bad habit that unfortunately can be exhibited by new employees and seasoned employees alike.

People seldom seek opportunities to be publicly identified as someone who doesn’t know what most everyone else in the room already knows. This can be tolerated somewhat in low-risk environments (take classrooms, for example) where the likelihood of danger to a person’s life or health is not high. In construction, there are potential dangers to life and health at seemingly every turn. Consider confined spaces in construction, which is largely considered a safety-sensitive topic. In a classroom, if an instructor asks a trainee if they know what constitutes oxygen-rich and oxygen-deficientin a confined space -and that trainee replied, “yes”, but truthfully, did not know- regardless of whether that trainee knew what those terms meant, there’s a good chance that their life or health wouldn’t be threatened in that classroom due to their lack of knowledge with regard to confined spaces. Now, let’s say that same trainee goes to work the next week, and is asked by his or her supervisor to enter a confined space on a job site. Let’s also assume that this trainee still does not have a clear understanding of how oxygen levels in a confined space affect entry requirements; but, being eager to please, jumps right in the confined space to perform his or her work without testing or ventilating the atmosphere prior. A traditional four-function calculator might be insufficient in helping your Safety Director compute the different ways things could go wrong in that scenario… See the difference?

In conclusion, untrained or undertrained workers can be as much of a danger to themselves, as they are to the people around them. New associates who learn things the wrong way, may end up becoming leaders in your company who teach others to do the same. The couple to few thousand dollars a company might save in foregoing training for their associates will pale in comparison to the potentially several thousand to millions of dollars a company may stand to pay out, in OSHA penalties and legal settlements following a major injury or fatality that occurred on their watch. Responses in a court case such as, “I didn’t know” or, “I was never told about that”, are more likely to significantly harm one’s legal defense, than they are to help it. Try seeing what reaction you might get from a compliance officer, prosecutor, judge, or parent of a child that died on your job, when you claim ignorance or attempt to rationalize why you never sufficiently trained your personnel. Or, you can choose to be proactive-

Construction Ready – Then and Now

In the summer of 2014, the workforce development program we have come to know as Construction Ready, began as a vision of The Home Depot and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank to revitalize communities in the Westside of Atlanta by creating career opportunities for some of the City’s disadvantaged residents. The vehicle through which this vision would be initially achieved, was construction of the state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Through a long-term relationship with the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA), HB NEXT was called upon to be the training partner for this joint venture, providing construction industry-recognized credentialing and certifications for the program’s selected participants. Through funding provided by the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Mr. Blank’s generosity and unwavering commitment to improving the Westside communities, and, the City of Atlanta, was evident from the outset of this voyage.

Mr. Blank’s generosity, however, did not come without (some) expectations.

Construction Ready’s first location at Westside Works -which was established at the former E.R. Carter Elementary School on Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard in Atlanta- was challenged to graduate and place (100) trainees into full-time careers in construction.

This was a daunting challenge, indeed.

Like any project with lofty goals, there were doubts that this could everbe accomplished. Plenty of naysayers, before recognizing the impact that was quietly being made in this community, were quick to offer their opinions on the matter.

Well, as it turns out, the naysayers and doubters were sadly misinformed.

In expeditious fashion, Westside Works graduated and placed those 100 trainees into full-time employment in the construction industry. In fact, the success and evolution of the Westside Works program was so impressive, that it garnered the excitement of the Build Cobb Initiative in Cobb County, who brought the same training program to Smyrna, GA, to support construction of the Atlanta Braves’ new home, SunTrust Park.

Additionally, it resulted in the Blank Foundation’s continued interest in the program.

Westside Works just celebrated its 25thgroup of graduates this summer. Build Cobb just graduated their 16th.

As the Westside Works and Build Cobb locations continued their success with the Construction Ready program, two additional locations launched in in the Atlanta area, in 2016 and 2017, respectively:

The Center for Working Families, Inc, in the Georgia Hill community near Turner Field now known as Georgia State Stadium; and, Aerotropolis, near East Point, GA.

Fast forward to 2018, Construction Ready now has 4 locations actively operating in the Atlanta area, with additional locations in planning for 2019 and beyond. To date, the program has graduated (through all 4 locations) a total of 815trainees, with 776of them being hired into full-time jobs with several Atlanta-area construction companies. This program is proud to boast an ongoing job placement rate of over 95%. What’s more impressive, is that over 70% of the graduates from the Construction Ready program have maintained their positions with these companies for a year or better.

We are excited to be a part of this powerful and rewarding program; and, are looking forward to building towards the program’s continued success!

HB NEXT Shares Their Knowledge at KSU

For decades, HB NEXT has served the construction industry from training employees on their jobsite to the classroom for industry professionals to increase their skills.  HB NEXT is also known for industry-leading cloud-software solutions since 2005. In 2011, Matrix Engineering partnered HB NEXT to create a cloud-based software platform to streamline the hectic CMT reporting and communication process. This software allowed special inspectors and testing technicians to access critical data while determining compliance, project plans and specifications.

Recently, HB NEXT visited KSU and spoke to construction engineering students about this product, the dire need for more technology solutions in the industry, and the need for young, enthusiastic professionals that know how to use it. “It is critical today’s students understand the importance and the value of a cloud-based software solution while working in the field, especially in today’s rapidly growing construction technology landscape” comment Andrew Middlebrooks. This presentation provided insight into field technology and the importance of construction inspection management to ensure compliance, quality assurance, safety, and control protocols are met.

As the construction industry continues to grow, it is critical that construction firms understand how the customizable software solutions can assist their teams in their day to day operations. As firms hire younger aged employees, their desire to have access to software resources plays an important role in their daily work. Universities across the United States are opening more study opportunities as opportunities continue to open in the construction industry.

HB NEXT is here to help construction firms navigate the myriad of software options available in order to choose the right one for their operation! Contact HB NEXT today.

Construction Opportunities Soar

Construction industry opportunities break decades of records. It has taken many years for the economy to rebound from the economic downward spiral of 2008. This job market is expected to propel even further with the latest hurricane disasters bringing even a greater demand for home, commercial building, and restoration to the marketplace. Take a look at where the job market rests today.

Today, there are more unfilled jobs in the construction sector since February 2007. According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and NAHBS, the number of open construction jobs increased to 247,000 in August 2017. This is a 34% increase since August 2016. Based on a 12-month average basis, this increase equals a 2.7% rise in open positions. Over the last year, 80,000 jobs were added by home builders and industry employment increased by 710,000 jobs since the low of the Great Recession. Texas and Florida job opportunities are expected to rise scientifically with rebuilding efforts due to Harvey and Irma.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found the not seasonally adjusted (NSA) national construction unemployment rate was 4.7% in September, which is down 0.5% from a year ago and is the second lowest September rate on record behind the 4.6% rate in September 2000. Construction unemployment rates were also down in 41 states on a year-over-year basis while rates rose in nine states, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) analysis. Furthermore, the construction industry employed 173,000 more workers than in September 2016.

The states with the lowest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates are

  1. Colorado, 2.3%
  2. Nebraska, 2.4%
  3. North Dakota, 2.5%
  4. Idaho, 3.1%
  5. Massachusetts and Wyoming (tie), 3.3%

The states with the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates are

  1. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island (tied), 6.3%
  2. Illinois, 6.7%
  3. Connecticut, 6.8%
  4. New Mexico, 8.2%
  5. Alaska, 10.4%

The outlook for construction job opportunities is exploding at the collegiate level as well. Virginia Tech held a job fair for their spring graduates in which construction firms were invited to meet the graduates. The response was so great, Virginia Tech had to turn away hiring firms due to capacity limits. During the job fair, each construction degree graduate received a minimum of five employment offers. Many people may not think of universities offering construction degrees but those fields on are the rise.

As the opportunities continue to expand in the construction industry, so does the training needs of each employee, contractor, and sub-contractor in the areas of safety and compliance. HB NEXT brings decades of experience to these employees and firms as they grow. The regulations and recordkeeping to keep projects compliant can be overwhelming and very costly if ignored. “At HB NEXT, our goal is to provide construction firms / general contractors with the tools to keep their employees safe, their records and data easily accessible in the field and help them stay compliant along their project. We do this over and over for firms nationwide and are very excited to see all of the opportunities opening up in the construction industry putting people back to work and enriching lives,” said Business Development Manager Tony Cann.

The HB NEXT Team offers expertise in safety orientations and safety manuals to kick off your next project with your new employees. HB NEXT is your number one partner for safety, environmental, training, software, and legal needs. Contact us today for more information.










Benefits of Incorporating Safety and Teambuilding Into Your Project Kickoff Meetings

Getting off on the right foot is important when construction firms begin new projects. When project expectations are not met, projects will have issues and disputes. Whether it is budget, schedule, or quality, it is critical all expectations are outlined as well as informing the crews of project-specific safety issues. Most Pre-Construction / Kickoff Meetings just cover the basics. Yet by enhancing these sessions, one can have a strong impact on the overall health of your future projects.

As with any new project utilizing temporary employees or subcontractors, getting personnel to work together as a team can also present some challenges. Collaboration, innovation, and creativity will flourish in an environment where teambuilding is fostered. These items are critical for maintaining the spirit and motivation required to keep projects moving forward. HB NEXT has developed an 8-hour Safety Training & Teambuilding Course designed for general contractors (GC) and their subcontractors. HB NEXT Training Manager Ryan Boling sees many benefits for offering this course at the beginning of a project. “The Safety Training & Teambuilding Course is beneficial for any general contractor or specialty contracting firm that is or will be working on a construction project with several trades / subcontractors,” said Boling.

“This course can serve as a project ‘kickoff’ meeting or as training for initial jobsite orientation, providing a consistent safety message. The course has been referred to by former trainees as a miniaturized version of an OSHA 10-hour course combined with several other custom curricula developed by HB NEXT. The class covers OSHA compliance, jobsite safety, soft skills, leadership, project management considerations, and more,” commented Boling.

Clients have reported seeing an increase in cooperation and cohesion amongst different trades on the job which, in turn, has a positive effect on productivity and morale. This course gives GC representatives / owner’s representatives a chance to meet face-to-face with the subcontractors who will be performing work on their jobs. Also, when utilized as, or, in conjunction with, a project kickoff meeting, it provides an opportunity for the tradespeople on the job a chance to meet each other in person, before working together on an active jobsite with several distractions and the ongoing pressures associated with meeting schedules / budgets.

This course discusses common problems that occur in the field and allows there to be an up-front discussion about the ways to handle them as a team. This gives the GCs a better chance at resolving job conflicts more effectively when they occur.

This course also incorporates all of the GC’s company / job specific safety requirements and rules. When offered by a GC, it helps to improve overall safety on the job, allowing subcontractors to gain an understanding of the GC’s specific job expectations before setting foot on the project. This means less potential for accidents, incidents, injuries, and problems associated with the jobsite safety and compliance with local, state and federal regulations.

HB NEXT is committed to serving construction firms through safety training, counsel, OSHA reporting and any environmental issues that may arise on the jobsite. Contact HB NEXT today to enhance your next pre-construction or project kickoff meeting.


Gearing for Success through Training and Education

Skilled tradespeople are becoming rare commodities in our nation’s workforce. There are though career opportunities galore available for capable, trainable individuals who can be developed into future skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen. Outside of having a passion for your trade and possessing the right work ethic, what makes these opportunities more readily available -both in the short-term and long-term- is training; industry and job-specific training, which often results in credentialing, and/or certification. Today, many students view the culmination of their high school or college careers as the ‘light at the end of the (educational) tunnel’. “I’ve put my time in, and now, I’m done with learning!” Sound familiar? What many fail to realize though, is the process of learning and growing as both a person and a professional, is ongoing. It does not end with earning a diploma or degree.

Training is a process, not an event.

Regardless of whether you are preparing for a career in the power industry, construction, automotive repair, criminal justice or cosmetology, you will require some training or continuing education in order to obtain a job, maintain a job, and ultimately, to advance within a career. You will have to be trained how to perform your duties safely and in compliance with government regulations, all while adhering to your organization’s written policies. Professionals don’t have the luxury of ignoring the requirement for continuing education- just ask any doctor, lawyer, accountant or other licensed professional you happen to meet. You’ll soon learn that even with all the knowledge you’ve obtained thus far, changes will invariably occur in business. Technology will advance, methodologies will be redefined, existing laws will be amended, new laws will be enacted, and you will require training to interpret these changes and maintain current education levels in your area of expertise.

In today’s economic and legal landscape, companies simply cannot afford to not provide training to their employees. In various industries like construction, manufacturing, or transportation, where there can be a high degree of danger involved in the day-to-day operations, a lack of training can quickly result in serious injuries, illnesses or even fatalities. The collateral (financial) damage that results from these incidents, can sometimes be significant enough to force a company to permanently close their doors for business. It is the existence and prevalence of such danger in the workplace, that makes training such a high priority not only for companies but also, for governmental agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They are legally responsible for both setting and enforcing safety and health standards for the workplace. Without training, sadly productivity suffers and accidents happen. People get hurt unnecessarily and companies end up losing hard-earned money that could have otherwise been spent on employee incentives, pay increases or other worthwhile investments. In the end, nobody wins in the absence of training.

As you learn and grow in life as well as in your career, you will begin to see through the ups and downs, good times, bad times, trials and tribulations, training regularly occurs along the way. It doesn’t always occur in the workplace or in a classroom setting. Training can come from a teacher, relative, family friend or another party that’s interested in your overall success. Do yourself and your future industry a favor; take full advantage of training and educational opportunities when they are presented to you. They won’t always come free of charge. Pay close attention to the lessons being taught by your instructors, superiors, community leaders and elders. Apply them to your work and everyday life where appropriate. If you pay really close attention, you’ll realize that all of us – as inhabitants of this planet Earth – have been surrounded by ‘trainers’ and have been ‘training’ in some form or fashion, for our whole lives. Sometimes, we just have to open our ears and listen a little more closely to recognize the lessons when they’re being offered.

HB NEXT offers training and certification in a variety of OSHA safety areas. Let HB NEXT come to your jobsite and prepare your crew. HB NEXT also offers a workforce ready training division. Take a look at their workforce development success. Ask HB NEXT today for your training solution.


By: Ryan Boling, Training Operations Manager