Strength in unity

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 October, 2008, 12:00am

Company promotes 'work hard, play hard' culture among staff to build rapport and enhance teamwork

As the construction industry continues to boom, recruiting and retaining staff has become a challenge for construction companies. Instead of motivating staff with a handsome package, Leighton Asia emphasises the teamwork culture and engages staff in its achievements.

With Hong Kong set to embark on several large-scale infrastructure projects, the construction industry will see strong demand for engineers and construction professionals. Hamish Tyrwhitt, the managing director of Leighton Asia, said: 'There is a shortage of engineers coming into the industry.'

According to Mr Tyrwhitt, a lot of experienced people in the construction industry get lured away to other industries. 'People, after three to five years within the construction industry, leave the industry and join [other fields] as investment bankers or become managers of other companies.'

With that in mind, the company has identified the direction it needs to take to recruit the right talent in the market and retain existing staff. 'We try to become an employer of choice,' Mr Tyrwhitt said. 'Even [though] there is a shortage of [qualified] people we want to attract to work for us and stay with us, we have appointed a new general manager of human resources to put in place a structure for staff development, with the aim of addressing their aspirations and providing them with a long-term career.'

Mr Tyrwhitt said there were different ways of rewarding staff, other than through the traditional approaches such as pay rises and bonuses. The company promotes a 'work hard, play hard' culture among staff to build rapport and get them motivated in a team environment.

'People only work closely together when they are in a team. If a project is successful, the project has formed a good team,' he said. 'We are not a company that has a closed-door policy. Everybody gets seen, works together and forms a team. Everybody celebrates together when we have achieved exceptional things such as winning a job or reaching a milestone in a project.'

Comparing the construction business to a sports team, Mr Tyrwhitt described teamwork as a key element in the construction business. 'Construction is pretty much like a sport. It is made up of a group of people who play different roles such as a goalkeeper and a captain. If people don't play their role or position, it is exactly like a sports team that doesn't work.'

With a strong teamwork culture, the company emphasises the importance of celebrating achievements. 'Everybody comes together and celebrates victorious moments such as the topping out of the Crown Macau Hotel and the breakthrough of the tunnel at Kowloon Station,' he said. 'This empowers the team to go on and continue to do great things.'