Our strategic planning session is paused for a well deserved coffee break. I’m sitting with Kolo Hamala – one of the principles of Hammers Workforce. We’ve been chatting about company culture and how to create it.
Kolo throws me a question. “It’s 6pm on a Tuesday. One of your employees has called you because they are having car trouble and can’t get to their rostered job site the next morning. What do you do? How do you react? What do you focus on?”
It’s a great question and not an unusual or strange scenario.
CULTURE COUNTS WHEN IT’S HARD
Talking about culture and going the extra mile is simple when you’re discussing it over coffee or basking in the glow of a corporate leadership day. As Kolo reminds me, real culture is what happens when plans get intercepted by life and things go sideways. It’s reflected in how you and your employees react.
At Hammers Workforce, the culture is embodied by the mantra, “We do what we say we’re going to do.” That attitude and that principle is embedded in everything from employee onboarding to the daily site walkthroughs – and the response to adversity.
CULTURE SHOWS UP IN MANY SMALL WAYS
Company culture is like the air around you – it touches everything and it’s largely invisible, but the force of that culture is almost impossible to resist.
The situation we opened with is just one of the real-life situations that has underlined the internal culture at this rapidly growing company. There are many elements of company culture demonstrated through the typical response within Hammers Workforce:
- We start with employees who share the commitment to a customer to turn up on site as promised.
- There are team members who understand that being late or absent lets down their crew, the company, and a client.
- Crew mates that help each other out or a manager that arranges transport to solve the problem rather than take things out on the person who is sharing the problem.
- Managers that focus on creating solutions and supporting an employee who wants the hours and is juggling other challenges at home.
- Leaders who recognise an emerging pattern of poor engagement in one of their team members and ask whether there is anything they need help with – rather than jumping immediately to disciplinary responses.
CONVERSATIONS ABOUT CULTURE
Kolo explains, “At Hammers Workforce we refer to The Hammers Way and deliberately and consciously build our culture in the way that we act. We hire for attitude, teamwork, and safe work practices and we never take shortcuts.”
The construction industry in Australia has not typically been a place where culture and emotional support get much attention. At the turn of the century, suicide rates amongst Australian construction workers were more than double the rate of non-construction workers.
“Our teams work hard in conditions that can be demanding and tiring. On those toughest days it can be awfully tempting to just take a little shortcut. We believe that caring about standards, caring about the work, and caring about each other is the antidote to those unnoticed shortcuts that get people hurt or damage equipment”, says Kolo.
“It’s not just about touchy-feely aspects either. Our teams are the best because we all choose to be the best and expect that of each other. Our clients recognise the quality and reliability of our work which means more work flows our way. It’s our competitive edge.”
The data backs her up. Employee turnover, one of the hallmark metrics of culture, is well below industry norms. Client retention is also high and new customers who trial Hammers Workforce’s teams in concrete Formwork and stripping are highly likely to continue to full contractual engagement.
In an industry known for hard hats and hard attitudes, Sio and Kolo Hamala are proving that caring about people brings tangible bottom line benefits.