Canadian Contractor

“We have a no drugs or alcohol, no smoking or foul language policy on the job site”

Clear policies regarding behavior and appearance on work sites may save trouble later

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March 17, 2016 by John Bleasby

Our most recent “What would you do?” contractor dilemma concerned the behavior of the crew on site and how it impacted the clients when they made a surprise visit. A number of respondents pointed to policies they’ve put in place to prevent this type of problem hopefully ever occurring.

Not the image any contractor wants to present to clients

Not the image any contractor wants to present to clients

“You are sometimes limited on what you can correct with your onsite crew as some are subcontractors or short term employees. I always ask crews to be cautious when clients or potential new clients are on site to set a decent example and have been lucky to not have had an issue in our 25 years. However, I have had to talk to my crew about my onsite expectations in both language, dress and even how to or whether to address or answer clients questions. A couple of examples are many of the young employees coming in with pants falling off their hips and exposed underwear, employees over-using their cell phones on the job, painting crews who were smokers (I have a nonsmoking in house policy)…..”


“We have a no drugs or alcohol, no smoking or foul language policy on the job site – or the job is FREE. This policy also applies in or on company property. Our employees understand what is at stake, and in 10 years we have never yet lost money because of this. We need our crews to look and act professional on every site, regardless of whether the client is around or not.”


“Chuck needs to place one of his more mature and respected workers in charge of this crew at all times to oversee all of their work / production/moral and in this way the owners can come and go as they need to and be respected every time. The workers will all be more productive as they are taught how to stay focused on the job at hand and not on the latest topic of their group…..With this in place Chuck will have a far more productive work crew in place where the young workers learn better ethics, the homeowners are confident in the crew while getting the respect they deserve and Chuck’s contracts get completed; everybody wins!”


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1 Comment » for “We have a no drugs or alcohol, no smoking or foul language policy on the job site”
  1. Neil D says:

    I’ve had moments over the years when a client was disillusioned by a workers behaviour and it’s a real shot in the gut when it happens. Once a sub had left very quickly without doing a proper clean up and to make matter worse the client had asked the sub to notify them of their departure in order to properly lock up the extension portion of the site. Next day the client told me about it and they were really upset. I listened, sympathized and agreed with them, I felt they needed closure but it had to come from them so I actually told them that if it was up to me I would beat the sub right in front of their house next time he showed up and even if it was generally frowned upon and illegal I was really mad too! The client was startled and then we both started to laugh.

    Chuck is in a delicate situation because those clients were living a dream when a group of rough strangers in their special place smacked the blue out of their sky! Now Chuck is the guy that has to drop his family, avenge their honor, erase the bitter violation, punish the guilty and bring back the dream before the next stage payment!
    Too melodramatic? Sure, but that’s exactly how it works in the minds of some clients and it will continue to work that way whenever the appearance of professionalism is lacking.

    I’d try to touch base with the client as soon as possible regardless of the weekend just to differentiate between their negative experience and what we are actually trying to do together. Later at the next face to face I’d use some of these thoughts of open the dialog.
    -Ask the clients if they had anything more to add since our last conversation, if there was any deficiency in the work and if they still wanted to change the subcontractor. If the story remained the same ask the clients how construction workers who so obviously lacked in social judgement could succeed in construction?
    -If the client comes up with a positive reason for the worker being in construction I’ll ask if there might be any additional reasons until they’d softened a bit and may even voluntarily resolved the whole issue.

    -If it’s all negative tell them exactly how you feel about the situation; the disappointment and embarrassment, the concern over their perception of the quality of the work and the impact those words could have on the entire project. Be brutally honest about the person or people in question and state the truth, “I’m shocked because he’s usually very professional with my clients”, “They should have used better judgement and asked more questions when you showed up” or “he’s an amazing craftsman but anti-social and a very crude person who I really try to keep away from decent people”!

    -Once the impulse and emotion has been addressed lay the facts of why you selected this worker or sub, for example;
    -best choice given the intricacies of your project,
    -quality is second to none,
    -longterm relationships and after delivery service is never a problem,
    -outstanding work ethic and dedication to making the deadline,
    -work left behind is highly appreciated by the subs and clients alike,
    -they don’t create change orders for every minute happenstance,
    -they’ve brought added value to the project by ……….,
    -any other reason that contributed to the decision.

    Now it’s time to close down the conversation quickly and have them own the decision.
    -Mr + Mrs client, I don’t know if it shows on my face but I’m very concerned with this entire situation.
    -Mr + Mrs client, ultimately you’re the boss, so right now, I need your decision for the benefit of your investment and the completion of your project.
    -Mr + Mrs client, are you ok with compromise in the deadline and budget that will come from changing this sub.
    -Oh Mr + Mrs client, one last thing… the sub has legal rights that cannot be broken because he used coarse language, how sympathetic do you think a judge will be toward us for throwing construction workers off a job site for bad language?

    By now I fully expect to see a lot of brain activity happening and I’m going to tell them point blank it would be an unwise decision to change the sub but none the less I’ll write out a change order detailing the reason for their request to change the subs and ask them to hold on to it for a day and both sign it if they still feel it’s the right thing to do.

    I really expect the client to see the value in maintaining the work schedule and securing themselves against any more unpleasantness but no matter what they decide I’m gonna sleep well because I’ve done my duty to the clients by giving them the facts to make an informed decision.