Morrison Construction is to encourage its best project managers to stay on site by offering them performance-related bonuses and the prospect of promotion.
The Edinburgh-based firm hopes that the scheme will stop its managers moving to office jobs where their site skills are no longer used.
Up to half of the 30 project managers Morrison has on major projects will be made “project directors” and given better salaries and higher status within the firm.
The firm will use them on its largest one-off schemes or on a number of schemes for one key client.
Explaining the incentive scheme, director Gordon Morrison likened the project directors to Formula 1 racing drivers. “We wanted to compare ourselves with a sexy industry, and F1 drivers are charismatic figures,” he said. “But they are also the ones actually doing the job, rather than being behind-the-scenes managers.”
Morrison refused to discuss the value of the packages, but said: “Working towards getting the big car and desk will no longer mean you have to become the MD.
“We want our managers to be able to get these rewards by leading bigger and bigger projects on site instead of having to leave the site and move to an office. We need to start promoting those who actually make a difference.”
Getting the big car and desk will no longer mean you have to become the MD
The scheme echoes the government’s plan to offer "super-teachers” higher pay to keep them in the classroom.
Morrison added that he hoped the scheme would help boost the industry’s image as an employer.
He said: “Construction is not high on the careers agenda, so we need to give more publicity to those delivering our services effectively. We want our project managers to be associated with our schemes.
“Anyone can tell you what Canary Wharf is but not many people will be able to tell you who built it, or who was in charge of its construction, and this is something that needs to change. Project managers can be shy of public relations, but it is a role that needs to be pushed to the fore.”
However, others in the industry questioned the wisdom of tying talented managers to one site.
One major contractor said: “Construction is undoubtedly an industry that relies on the abilities of individuals and a good project with a good manager will always be of benefit to the industry. But when you have projects ranging from the modest to the massive, there will always be a certain amount of on-site career progression anyway.
“If someone wants to move on to managing more than a single project, a move off site will have to occur.”