In our previous blogs and articles, we have regularly emphasised the importance of stakeholder engagement in construction projects. If you want to be ahead of your competitors and become a Considerate Constructor, stakeholder engagement is something you cannot avoid. And neither should you want to. It is a fantastic way of including those around your building site with what you are doing, gaining new insights into how your project affects each of your stakeholders differently.
At SitePodium we believe that stakeholder engagement should be an integral part of every modern building project. With our app it is easy to connect with your local residents and involve them. Local communities affected by your project deserve nothing less.
In this article, we will go into the practical side of stakeholder engagement. How can you build stronger relationships with the local communities around you?
Stakeholder engagement starts with being transparent
The most important part of stakeholder engagement is being transparent. You made your stakeholder engagement plan and have identified the parties that need to be included. The first thing you do is share your plans.
You tell the local residents and communities about what is going on at your building site and how it will influence them. This way you inform them about noise that might bother them during the day, or about temporary access limitations. If someone cannot use their parking space for a day or a local business loses its regular means of access temporarily, the affected parties need to know. The same goes for possible pollution, like dust coming from your building site, which might affect the homeowners and businesses around it.
You tell them when this will happen and how it might influence their day-to-day lives. You mention how you plan to limit the damage at the same time. You can let them know that there will be noise, but it will only be between working hours, for example. That way you give them the solution before they can raise a complaint. Your local communities will feel heard and understood and you are always one step ahead.
The benefits of good communication
By making sure that you communicate properly and clearly, you benefit greatly:
- Engagement will increase and conflict will reduce. By communicating clearly, you gain the trust of your local communities.
- As a result, your local communities will become less of a risk. Some of them will even start supporting you. They see the benefits of what you are doing and the effort you are putting in.
- You will ask for and receive feedback, which gives you ideas on how to engage the local communities with your construction projects even better in the future.
Hold meetings with your local communities
After communicating your side transparently, you have to give the local communities a means to respond. Stakeholder engagement only works if there is communication back and forth. By organising meetings, you collect their feedback at a specific place and time that suits you.
You can invite local interest groups, residents, stakeholders, and communities to ask the questions they might have. Invite special guests to speak to your local community members about how they contribute to the project. This is a unique opportunity to bring your direct and indirect stakeholders together. You provide updates on the progress of your building project, on what it will look like when it is finished and on how they will benefit from it then. They can raise concerns and you calm their worries on the spot.
The advantage of these meetings is not only that you can tackle problems head-on. They are also there for you to mingle with the locals and gauge their emotions towards your project. You base your future stakeholder engagement activities on the feelings that circulate the room. As you organise these meetings, the general feeling there will change from reluctant initially to a positive, relaxed and open atmosphere at the end.
Visit the local schools and clubhouses
Stakeholder engagement goes further than two-way communication between parties. This is also your chance to educate and motivate the children in the community. By making visits to the local schools, the clubhouses, the sports associations, and the library, you raise an interest in the construction industry with the local children.
Plan a talk about how construction projects work, how they are planned and why they are important. The children will ask questions and think about a future in the industry. By getting them excited, the whole community will develop a more positive view on your project. This way, stakeholder engagement includes even the youngest members.
Use the SitePodium app to support stakeholder engagement
Engaging local communities is much easier with the SitePodium app. Your stakeholders download it onto their mobile devices and are instantly brought together. It is a very valuable stakeholder engagement tool for transparent communication and measuring support.
You control the access the different parties get. That way, you let the members of the local community see only what they need to see. You also decide the degree of interaction, such as what they can respond to and what is only shown to them. This way you make sure that their comments are not randomly placed and visible to everyone.
Apart from bringing your stakeholders together, you also get valuable insight into data. With that, you measure how supportive your local residents are, based on solid facts. By doing that, you will make better stakeholder engagement decisions, by, for example, scheduling an additional meeting to listen to the most recent concerns raised by local shop owners.
Do you want to know more about SitePodium and how it can support and direct stakeholder engagement in your projects? This free brochure is available for download with a load of information about SitePodium, how it works and all its features. Have a look at our client cases to see SitePodium used in practice. Naturally, we invite everyone to contact us and discuss this further in person.