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Chapter one


  • Background of the study

The construction industry is not only an intrinsic part of the economy, but also a significant part because of its contribution to the economy (Aina and Omoniyi, 2014). Globally, the construction sector is recognised as a strategic part of every society, it is one of the largest employers and attracts a large amount of investment (both public and private), while being responsible for providing necessary infrastructure to  the  nations  (Hickson  and  Ellis, 2014). Construction labour productivity demands the attention of both experts and academics because it affects project cost and time overrun (AbdulKadir,  Lee  and  Sapuan,2005, Siriwardena and Ruwanpura, 2012; Muzamil and Khurshid, 2014). Most studies have shown that productivity or output, especially in developing countries, are low (Fagbenle, Adeyemi and Adesanya, 2004; Tran and Tookey, 2011). The construction sector is also characterized by poor time and cost performance, sometimes leading to outright abandonment of the projects and one of the factors responsible for overruns is poor productivity in the sector among others. Some observers of the trend in the construction industry concluded that much of the leakage associated with rising building costs had occurred in labour, where weak output had eroded investments made by contractors (Hickson and Ellis, 2014).  Thus, improving the productivity of labour constitutes a prime target in construction (Tran and Tookey, 2011).

Productivity is expressed in many ways but generally as the ratio of output to resources which are consumed to produce that output. It is described as the average direct labour hours required to install a unit of material. In construction, labour productivity is often expressed as a  number of  labour hours  per unit  of work;  and or  the quantity of  work performed by a crew during a standard eight-hour day (Fagbenle, Ogunde and Owolabi, 2011). In a broader sense, it may also measure how much value a worker adds  to the economy per unit time.  On the other hand, monitoring and measuring performance of incentive schemes to raise productivity level is crucial for successful implementation of incentive schemes. Incentive schemes that are not monitored and evaluated firmly and systematically against intended business outcomes would have little or no business impact. If a process is not measured it cannot be managed. Incentive schemes require continual  review and redirection (Aina, 2011).Incentives  schemes are  usually utilized  in  the construction  industry to  generate higher level of performance from works, promote greater output, reduce cost of production and  increase  workers’  earning  through  a  system  which  recognizes  difference  in performance  and  ties  pay  of  performance.

Lai (2009)  opined that  motivated employees are the  foundation stones  of any  fruitful enterprise. Understanding  motivation theory  and being  able to  apply the theory  to the labour  force  plays  an  important  role  in  increasing  productivity  (Gonzalez,  1991). Substantiating  this  assertion,  Fagbenle,  Ogunde  and  Owolabi  (2011)  affirmed  that researchers suggested that in order to have any meaningful improvement in construction workers’ performance, contractors must study the peculiarities of their workers and also identify their main motivators. Labour productivity has always been an issue for project managers in order to produce results. Concerns have also been raised about the choices of particular scheme either financial or non-financial, whether incentive schemes actually raise construction workers output in all circumstances, and the measurement of the actual impact generated (Abdusalam, Faki and Dardau, 2012).

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