What is labor?

Labor, worker or construction laborer are the skilled workers employed in the construction site who performs several works which demand physical strength. The laborer's task is very challenging and often leads to fatigue and exhaustion. Depending on the nature of work, a construction firm may employ many laborers. The laborers prepare sites for construction works, loading and unloading of materials, removing hazards, dismantling, overhauling of equipment, shifting materials, and assisting higher officials. The labor may also require to operate special equipment depending upon its expertise. In a nutshell, the laborer's work is essential and challenging sometimes, and their involvement help to finish the construction process on time.
A labor manager undertakes the task of labor-management in a construction site. He helps in the organization of the project by wisely and systematically managing the laborers involved with the project. A labor manager hires people with the expertise, to deliver the right productivity. Proper labor management will ensure high productivity, right skills utilization, availability of workers on time, and timely project completion.

Construction workers on construction site
CC0 1.0 | Image credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org | Jim Henderson

Labor requirement decision

Project managers hire labor managers. The labor managers on reviewing the nature and criticality of the construction project, decide the type and number of laborers the construction project will need. It is the sole responsibility of the labor manager to hire laborers, provide them with adequate living arrangements, food, timely wages, and other requirements. The measures will ensure fewer worker disputes, improved workflow, and daily availability of the laborers on site. Some of the factors that the labor manager considers while hiring laborers are:

Project deadlines

As laborers are hired on a contractual basis, the labor manager needs to know the project deadlines. The time of completion of the project can take less than a month or may require more than a year. Also, it should be known by the labor manager that everything decided doesn't go well with the plan. Natural disasters, workers' disputes, local disputes, unavailability of workers or materials are some factors that affect the duration of the project. Hence, all these parameters need to be considered by a labor manager before hiring workers for his/her project.

Size of the construction project

A construction project can be as small as building a single-lane bridge, or as big as a skyscraper. Hence, depending on the project size, the labor manager needs to decide the number of laborers he/she needs to hire. Based on the nature of the complexity of work like high elevation fitting works, or working in hazardous environments, the construction project needs dedicated and skillful workers.

Level of expertise required

Different works require a different level of expertise like welding, plumbing, electrical works, fitting works, carpentry works, etc. The manager ensures a worker can easily handle such types of complex works with a high level of accuracy. Also, various sophisticated equipment and power tools are used in a construction site, a worker should have sound knowledge of working with the given equipment as this will ensure worker's safety. Apart from these, a labor manager should look into the physical health of a worker and his/her medical history, so that the environment and nature of the job suit the particular worker.


After figuring out the number of laborers required, the next job is to estimate budgeting. The budgeting involves cost estimation regarding the worker's wages. How much to be paid on an hourly basis, worker's accommodation and food costs, medical costs, etc.
The labor manager divides the laborers into their respective departments, and based on the degree of risks involved in each department, the manager should decide the wages of the workers.

Labor training and development

Though selected labor has the required skill sets to furnish in the current construction project, but every job has its own work methodology and technique. The training and development of labor is the process of educating the laborers for work-related knowledge and skills to improve productivity. It also provides them with new skills and knowledge with which they can succeed and grow professionally.
The training and development make a worker become comfortable with the work environment and make them better on the construction site. Apart from imparting work-related knowledge, the training and development imparts them with safety-related knowledge and trains them to deal effectively in risky situations.

Labor motivation

Motivation is one of the fundamental parameters of an organization. The element of motivation is what brings employees and workers every day into work. Motivation is defined as the individual's willingness to expend his/her efforts to accomplish a certain goal or objective. Lack of work motivation results in low productivity or sometimes zero productivity. Certain factors that decide motivation in the workplace are:

  • Work environment
  • Worker behavior and attitude
  • Leadership style
  • Recognition and appreciation
  • Positive vibe and culture
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Job advancement opportunities
  • Financial and health benefits
  • Decent pays and perks
  • Work schedules
  • Level of communication, etc.

Context and Applications

This topic is taught in different undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses like:

  • Bachelors of Technology in Mechanical Engineering
  • Bachelors of Technology in Civil Engineering
  • Master of Business Administration (Human resource and Management)
  • Master of Technology in Industrial Engineering

Practice Problems

Q 1. Which of the following is a work of labor on a construction site?
a. Shifting of materials
b. Loading and unloading
c. Fitting works
d. All of these

Answer: Option d
Explanation: Shifting of materials, loading, and unloading, fitting works, etc are the works carried out by laborers on a construction site.

Q 2. Which of the following is a motivation factor in an organization?
a. Irregularity of workers
b. Attractive pay and benefits
c. Poor work atmosphere
d. Poor communication

Answer: Option b
Explanation: Attractive pay and benefits are two of the factors that influence motivation in an organization.

Q 3. Which of the following is a part of the training and development for laborers?
a. Educating them with safety-related knowledge
b. Educating them with work-related skills and knowledge
c. Both a and b
d. None of these

Answer: Option c
Explanation: Training and development for laborers include educating the laborers with safety-related knowledge, work-related skills, and work overview.

Q 4. Which of the following is a part of the labor requirement decision?
a. Size of project
b. Site estimation
c. Project evaluation
d. Project forecasting

Answer: Option a
Explanation: Knowledge of the size of the project by the labor manager is an important criterion for deciding the labor required for the project.

Q 5. Why does the labor manager perform budget estimation?
a. To order materials required for the project
b. To buy the equipment required in the project
c. To pay wages to the workers
d. All of these

Answer: Option c
Explanation: The labor manager performs budget estimation to pay the worker's wages.

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