So you have a construction company in the UK – that’s great! Due to promised boost to infrastructure spending and increase in commercial building in cities (you can download the full report here) 2016 is bound to be a good year for growth. This all might mean hiring more, and even if it doesn’t, it definitely means looking at existing employees for excellence. There is, however, one particular group of your employees you probably don’t ‘get’ yet – the Polish. That’s a shame as they love you! Let me tell you some of the reasons why:
Reason 1: Money
Say what you want, but your Polish employees are very conscious of their wages – that’s one of the main reasons they moved to a foreign country to work hard in the first place. However, this runs a bit deeper – construction work in Poland is one of the lesser-paid jobs amongst all. Count in long hours and physical strain – Polish people love you because you pay them decent wages they can actually live and grow on.
Reason 2: Respect
You know Polish workers have a lot of skill when it comes to construction work, but did you know this is one of the reasons they love you? Poland places such a great importance on university education, skilled trades are considered ‘easy’ and simply aren’t respected. So show your Polish workers some love back, invest in their skillset!
Reason 3: Families
Some of your Polish construction workers support their families in Poland, some brought their families to the UK, but one thing is sure – Poles are usually very family-oriented. How this fuels their love for you? They just don’t mind long hours if it means their families can have a better life and having a job with you means exactly that. Family is a strong motivating force for Polish workers and if you tap into that, they will love you even more.
Reason 4: Communities
There is a long tradition of Polish people working in construction businesses abroad, and UK is no exception. Your Polish workers love you because you hire other Poles! They know what to expect and trust each other more readily. The camaraderie with other Poles makes them want to go to work more and work with a smile.
Despite all of the above, your Polish employees don’t necessarily think working for you is ideal, and here are some of the reasons why:
Reason 1: Language
Truth told, many Poles don’t speak English at more than basic level and this is, sadly, true about your workers as well. Even if their English is good enough, this means that going to work generates a substantial fear – what if someone talks to me and I don’t know what to say? No one wants to look like a fool and this is how Polish people tend to perceive it. This is where the strong sense of community goes against you – it’s easier to speak in Polish than try to reach other workers in English. You could eliminate this problem by helping your workers communicate better – you have no idea what potential you’re tapping into!
Reason 2: Culture
It’s just different in Poland! We talk about our illnesses at first meeting someone and asking personal questions about families is the way to go! Your Polish workers love you, but they don’t understand you at all – and that’s what stops them from being proactive and enjoying the work more. If you help Poles assimilate, they will thank you with outstanding loyalty and effort!
Reason 3: Principle
This is a cultural thing – you have to complain, not to ‘jinx it’ – so, although they love you, Polish workers will tell everyone how they don’t. You’re just that awful, long hours, bosses don’t speak Polish, other people don’t do such a good job… They love you, but it’s a well-guarded secret. That’s actually a huge shame, because they have friends with fantastic skillsets, who then nod knowledgeably and move on. You can convince your Polish workers to speak of you a bit better (with grudging respect: ‘You know, he’s like any other boss, but he’s ok’ – the highest praise known!) if you combat the fear of praise with a strong relationship ties.
I can tell you, 2016 is going to be fantastic for your construction company, but it will definitely be even better if you harness the potential of your Polish employees and let them be a more integral part of your work and your life. Here’s to fantastic working relationships!