Construction Labour Productivity – A Review

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Construction Labour Productivity – A Review

Ninad Kadu

UG Student of Vidyavardhinis College of Engineering and Technology

Mumbai University Mumbai, India

Jignesh Mistry

Assistant Professor at Vidyavardhinis College of Engineering and Technology

Mumbai University Mumbai, India

Sushant Ganiga

UG Student of Vidyavardhinis College of Engineering and Technology

Mumbai University Mumbai, India

Govind Chaurasiya

UG Student of Vidyavardhinis College of Engineering and Technology

Mumbai University Mumbai, India

Pankaj Yadav

UG Student of Vidyavardhinis College of Engineering and Technology Mumbai University Mumbai, India

AbstractLabour productivity, in the construction industry is one of the most important aspect which contributes significantly in nations revenue as a whole. Current scenario shows that labour productivity in the construction industry is decreasing on a constant basis. The paper investigates on different factors affecting construction labour productivity by referring research papers from various countries all over the world. Cronbachs Alpha and Relative Importance Index were mostly used for statistical analysis of those factors which were identified by the researchers. The research paper includes the top

10 factors which were published by various research articles from statistical analysis. These top 10 factors were mainly responsible for declination of construction labour productivity. The construction companies/organizations/industries shall consider these factors for effective planning and scheduling of activities of the project which would be beneficial for them to reduce their time of construction and also save economic losses.

KeywordsConstruction Labour Productivity, Cost, Relative Importance Index, Statistical Analysis, Factors


    In most countries, construction industries are greatly concerned about a low level of productivity. Poor productivity of craftsman is one of the most critical problem that in construction industries. The performance of labour is affected by many factors and is usually linked to the performance of time, cost and quality. Every project has some difficulty in construction like materials, money, tools and local contractors construction cost. Looking to the current scenario of continuous downfall of construction labour productivity, it is highly necessary to identify the factors which affect it and then work out the critical ones out of the available factors.

    Productivity is the ratio of production output to what is required to produce it. In other words, it is a measure of the rate at which work is performed. It is also defined as measured as a total output per unit of a total input. Meanwhile identification and evaluating factors affecting labour

    productivity have been done in the last decade, however a deeper understanding is still needed to improve the labour productivity. Construction is a key sector of the national economy for countries all around the world, as traditionally it took up a big portion in nations total employment and its significant contribution to a nations revenue as a whole. However, today construction industries are still facing numbers of problems regarding the low productivity, poor safety and insufficient quality. As we know, labour productivity is directly linked to improved standards of living in the form of higher consumption as an economys labour productivity.

    In todays time there is a huge need for research in the construction labour productivity in the Indian construction industry particularly where the labour productivity can be increased on significant basis and hence there is a need to identify factors which are responsible for such changes to happen which is the primitive step in enhancing the efficiency of labour productivity. Concerning to those factors which are influential, the management can thereby take action to improvise on that issue. Various studies can be found in other countries as for how to identify the factors that are influencing the construction labour productivity but not in accordance to the Indian context. Researchers generally conclude the major factors influencing productivity are different for every other country, its geographic location and the type of project as well.

    The labour productivity factors that are identified by various researchers in their countries may not be applicable in India due to the difference in political, economic and social environment in India. Hence there is need to identify factors affecting labour productivity which are applicable for Indian construction industries and in order to achieve this, a questionnaire survey has to be conducted in consideration to the reviews of project managers, supervisors, site engineers and the craftsmen workers who work on the construction sites. The fundamental behind procuring these responses from all the

    project participants is to know about the various though processes of the participants in regards to the factors affecting the labour productivity.


    There has been a lot of research done about construction labour productivity in the recent decades which were done so as to find out the factors which are affecting the productivity of the construction sector. The following are 28 literature reviews done for this research.

    An investigation was carried out in 1985 in which study was carried out to improve labour productivity by comparing the survey done in the year 1979 and 1983 in US [1]. Based on his studies factor affecting labour productivity are 1. Planning and scheduling of work,2. Labour-management relations, 3. Site supervision and 4. Engineering design. After 2 years, in 1987 an investigation was done for identifying factors which were impacting the labour productivity in Nigeria and it was concluded that the output quantities which were found were studied properly with the help of time study techniques and the results that were found should be applied to various construction firms so as to take the most productive methodology without any additional physical problems [2]. In 1995 variety of factors that were impacting the labour productivity in Singapore were identified and then they were narrowed down to only the most significant ones which were 1. lack of qualified supervisors, 2. shortage of skill labour, 3. high rate of labour turnover, 4. labour absenteeism and 5. communication with foreign labour [3]. These factors were in regards to a survey conducted in Iran. A similar survey was done a year later in Iran itself [4]. Relative Importance Index (RII) technique was used to identify problems and prioritizing them for detailed analysis and discussion. After doing the analysis it was found that the construction operates and poor management skills are the factors which are significantly impacting the Iranian construction sites. In the year 1997, a study found that the factors which were affecting the productivity of the craftsmen in Indonesia were 1. lack of materials, 2. rework, 3. absenteeism of labour and 4. lack of equipment and were regarded as the most critical factors [5].

    About 6 years later i.e. in 2003, a pilot study was done to find the relationship between the performance at a job site and the level of construction productivity [6]. In the next year in Thailand, the influence of 23 factors on the productivity of the construction industry was found and it was stated that 1. lack of tools and accessories, 2. labour absenteeism, 3. poor communication, 4. instruction time, 5. poor site layout, 6. inspection delay and 7. reork are the most significant factors among the 23 chosen factors [7]. In the same way a year later, a survey considering about 50 productivity factors on the Malaysian residential projects was conducted and it was identified that there are 5 major factors which govern the productivity [8]. A different study was conducted in the USA in the year 2007 to find the factors which were affecting the construction productivity [9]. In the same year, a similar study was done but the respondents were required to to rate the factor affecting labour productivity with respect to cost, time and quality. In this lack of material was ranked high considering loss of time but it was not on top 10 factors considering cost, time and quality [10]. A survey was performed so as to measure the impact of 83 factors which were affecting the productivity from the 18 focused group discussion with the

    labours and their supervisors on the sites throughout the country. In the same year, another survey on the factors that were affecting the productivity of labours for building projects by considering 45 factors in the Gaza strips was conducted. The factors were segregated into 10 groups viz. 1. supervision,

    2. materials/tools, 3. leadership, 4. manpower project external motivation, 5. quality time and 6. safety [11]. In consideration to several other group bifurcations done by researchers all over the world, minute aspects were taken into consideration and were argued over the terminologies used by others which led to a higher level of generalizing in a patterned way and also for subgrouping within the nomenclatures.

    Five years later in 2012, an increase in productivity in a building project in Sangli, Kolhapur and Pune districts were found [12]. Data of survey was collected from project manager and experienced engineer of the building project. In this report factor affecting labour productivity were identified separately for small, medium and large companies. In the same year, a structural questionnaire survey which comprised of 45 productivity factors was prepared in Kuwait [13]. Contractors were invited to participate in that survey. The results obtained was used in industry practitioners and provided guidance to construction manager to efficiently utilize their time and labour force. In the same year, 45 factors were first identified as the factor impacting construction labour productivity in India [14]. By factor analysis, critical factor was identified are as follows:

    1. Lack of commitment, 2. Inefficient site management, 3. Poor site coordination, 4. Improper planning and 5. Lack of clarity in project scope. In the following year identification of critical factors which were affecting the labour productivity were found as an objective of the project [15]. A survey was carried out in cities of Gujrat region on the civil contractors. By using RII and the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) analysis of 51 feedbacks were computed. In order to improve the labour productivity it was proposed that the contractors should act on the factors accordingly. In the same year, a study was aimed so as to find out the factors that were affecting labour productivity in Saudi Arabia in the public construction projects in regards to a contractors perspective [16]. For that, 41 contractors who were working in the public construction filled a structural questionnaire survey and then as per the conducted survey the factors were ranked according to their impacts. 32 of the factors were selected, out of which the top 10 factors were identified which affected the labour productivity negatively in road constructions.


    Occurrence of factors in each reference

    Sr. No.




    Site layout

    [4, 7, 8, 9, 12, 15, 22, 23,



    Site location

    [4, 8, 12, 16, 24, 28]


    Low quality of material

    [9, 11, 16, 27]


    Method of working

    [10, 11, 20, 22, 26, 28]


    Project type

    [11, 23, 26, 27]


    Type of structure

    [22, 26]


    Equipment required for work in project

    [6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 17, 20, 25,

    26, 27]


    Interruption of work

    [8, 22, 26]


    Ease of processing and preparation of material of work



    Labour low wage

    [11, 16, 19, 21, 23]


    Financial condition of

    [8, 12, 14, 16, 28]


    [8, 9, 13, 23]

    Occurrence of factors in each reference

    Sr. No.





    Labour supervision

    [3, 5, 12, 16, 21, 22]


    Lack of construction manager leadership

    [15, 20, 22]


    Misuse of time schedule

    [11, 15, 16, 22, 25, 26]


    Frequent change of order

    [4, 6, 8, 10, 19, 21, 28]


    Poor site management

    [7, 12, 16, 23, 24]


    Slow response consultant staff

    [21, 23, 24]


    Misunderstanding among labour

    [8, 16, 23]


    Difficulty in recruitment of supervisors and workers



    Poor instructions

    [8, 11, 15]


    Service provided to labour

    [8, 26]


    Crew size and composition

    [4, 9, 15, 28]


    Unsuitability of storage location

    [9, 11, 12, 22]


    Shortage of experience labour

    [6, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 20,

    23, 25, 27]


    Motivation of labour

    [13, 15, 22]


    Service provided to labour




    [3, 12]


    Personal problem

    [11, 16, 23]


    Labours education level

    [22, 23, 26]


    Leadership and efficiency in site management

    [8, 22, 26]


    Public holiday

    [8, 11]



    [3, 4, 7, 11, 13, 15, 21, 23,

    24, 27, 28]


    High wind



    Area of project location

    [26, 28]


    Availability of labour in market and competition between them



    Health risk (Unfavorable condition)

    [3, 10, 23, 25]





    Working at high altitude

    [3, 28]


    Unemployment of safety officer on the construction site

    [8, 15]


    Violation of safety precaution

    [9, 11, 22, 23]


    Insufficient lightening

    Manpower is a factor that has been a stronghold to the construction sector since most of the work is labour dependent. In 2014, identification was done of the 10 factors which were significantly affecting the labour productivity in a negative way [17]. These factors were chosen in order to develop a model that established an interpretive relationship amongst these factors. Total Interpretive Structural Modelling (TISM) was implemented so as to identify and summarize relationship among the factors which affected the labour productivity. Similar study was done in Egypt to find most impacting factor influencing construction labour productivity [18]. The factors were categorized into three groups: 1. Human/labour, 2. Industrial, 3. management. In the same year, Thomas et al [19] reported the results of a questionnaire of site engineer, project managers, craftsman and supervisor in State of Kerala. A year after i.e. in 2015 study was done which mainly focused on the labour productivity affecting road projects in Iran [20]. The data were collected from CEOs from road construction companies and factors affecting most was identified. Similarly, in same year, Abdulaziz prepared a questionnaire survey consists of 37 factors, which were divided into following groups:1. Management, 2. Technological, 3. Labour and 4. External [21]. In the next year i.e. in 2016, factor affecting labour productivity were identified around Mumbai sector [22].

    These factors were analyzed using RII. Total of 24 factor affecting labour productivity were used. Saving of time and cost was analyzed for G 19 floor building. Then in the same year survey which had 50 questionnaires was conducted in Zimbabwe [23]. Empirical determination of factors affecting construction labour productivity was done. Questionnaire comprised of structured and unstructured question which were used in data collection. In 2016, a research was also conducted and identification as well as ranking of the factors was done that were affecting the productivity in Jordan [24]. In order to achieve it, data was collected by means of a structural questionnaire survey. The survey form consisted 37 factors which were identified on the basis of literature review. Based on it, the research recommended important factors which were essential for the organizations which were planning for an enhancement in the labour productivity workforce. In the same year, factor was identified for improving productivity in construction in Jordon [25]. A questionnaire survey containing

    27 question was prepared and responses were statistically analyzed using RII for each factor. In the following year, in Yemen, an aim was set to find and rank the factors which were affecting the construction labour productivity [26]. 52 factors were included in the questionnaire which were further divided into 4 groups viz. 1. human/labour, 2. technical and technological, 4. management and 5. external. RII method was used to rank these factors. In the same year it was found that poor costing and scheduling performance of the projects in construction were the two major challenges that were hindering the performance of construction projects in Cambodia [27]. Identifying various attributes which delayed construction projects was the main objective of the research. 10 factors which were the major frontline players were recommended to put efforts on in order to know the relation between their magnitude of impact so as to find the delays and minimize them which were resulting to slowing down of the construction projects in the Cambodia. A year later in 2018, Artificial Neural Network (ANN) was used as a measure to find the most influential factor that affected the labour productivity in India [28]. The research was emphasized on concreting activities that were carried on field like installation of reinforcement, formwork installation and placement of concrete and some other industry concerning activities as well. 23 factors were considered and grouped them into 4 categories viz. 1. management, 2. human/labour, 3. technical/construction method/technological and 5. external/on-site job conditions.


    Labour is most important part of the construction industry as productivity of a particular work in construction are related to each other. In India, construction is the second largest economic activity after agriculture. Productivity improvement is the key area in the construction industry for any country.

    Labour Productivity is generally defined as the ratio of unit output (work placed) per given unit input (per man hour) [11, 12]. An inverse of this is also used by [12], i.e.

    Productivity = Input Output

    On the other hand, Jarkas and Bitar [13] classified two measure of productivity:

    1. Total factor productivity, in this all output and input are considered

    2. partial factor productivity, where output and single or selected input is considered.

    Input and output are affected by different cost over time, so it is difficult to define productivity [27].

    There is other various definition related to labour productivity given by [22], they are as follows:

    Total factor productivity (Economic model):

    TFP = Total Output (Labour + Material + Equipment +


    Project Specific Model:

    Productivity = Output (Material + Labour + Equipment)

    Activity Oriented Model:

    Labour Productivity = Output (Work hour (or) Labour Cost) (4)


    RII is used to determine the relative importance of the various factors that cause delay. The same method is going to be adopted in this research within various groups i.e. contractor, project engineer and site supervisor. A five point scale ranged from 1 (very little degree effect) to 5 (very high degree effect) is adopted and transformed to relative importance index for each factor. RII was used in the following references [3], [8], [11], [13-16], [18, 19], [21-27].

    RII = ((5n5 + 4n4 + 3n3 + 2n2 + n1) (5× (n5 + n4 + n3 + n2 + n1))) × 100 (5)

    where, n1 = Number of respondents who answer no relevance, n2 = Number of respondents who answer little relevance, n3 = Number of respondents who answer moderate relevance, n4 = Number of respondents who answer strong relevance, n5 = Number of respondents who answer very strong relevance.


    The statistical analysis has been divided into two parts as to check the significance (Z-test) and consistency (Cronbachs Alpha test) of the data which are described as follows :

    1. Z-test

      The term Z-test in statics refers to the hypothesis test in which it is measured how many standard deviations above or below the mean a row data is. A Z-test score is also known as the standard score and 99.9% of the value fall in the range of -3 standard deviations (extreme left of the normal distribution curve) up to +3 standard deviations (extreme right of the

      normal distribution curve). The formula for the Z-test statistics of value is calculated by deducting population mean from the X-value and then the result is divided by the population standard deviation. [11], [13], [15], [21], [26] are the researchers who used Z-test.

      Here each observation is denoted by xi and total number of observations in the population is denoted by N.

      Population Mean:

      = (xi N)

      Population Standard Deviation:

      = ((xi 2) N)

    2. Cronbachs Alpha test

    If some measures of scores are unreliable, it is difficult for researchers to know whether they have results meriting further inquiry. Frequent lack of understanding of the role of reliability plays in experiments and therefore frequently omit a reliability estimate from the calculations. Reliability of coefficients describe the consistency, correlation of a set of scores and poor reliability inherently weakens effect sizes. The use of Cronbacks Alpha was done by 14], [20, 21], [28-30] in their research.

    Coefficient Alpha () is the average of all the possible split- half coefficients for a given test.

    = ((K (K1)) × (1( (k)2 (Total)2)))

    Where, k = Number of items, (k)2 = Sum of individual item score variance, (Total)2 = Total test score variance.


The factors affecting labour productivity in the construction field are identified with the help of literature review. But it was found that some factors were repetitive such as site layout, site location, misuse of time schedule, equipment required for work in the project, shortage of experience labour and rain. In order to reduce delays due to site layout factor we have to check the architectural drawings 2 days prior to the commencement of work and also site layout has to be verified beforehand. Availability of equipment is also one of the repeated factors hence if there are no equipment available at the time of construction, the work gets stopped despite having labourers. Such factors should be collectively targeted at the initial stage of the project itself so as to start the work on time. Rain factor should be kept in mind before the arrival of monsoon season and for that the external work could be assessed ahead of the monsoon season whereas when there is rain, we can switch to internal work such that the total duration of the project is not compromised.

Hence it is important to schedule our project while taking every repeating factor into consideration because the labourers cannot perform a particular task in the same way as it was done earlier. Every time there are different consequences due to differences in the situation as per the demands of the site.

Proper monitoring of money and time is also a key factor for the successful completion of the project.


It gives me a great pleasure to express my deep sense of gratitude and indebtedness to my guide Asst. Prof. Jignesh M. Mistry for his valuable support and encouraging us throughout the project. I am highly obligated to him for providing us the opportunity to carry out the ideas and work during my project and helping me to achieve success in completion of the project.

Our sincere thanks to Dr. Sunil G. Kirloskar, the Head of the Civil Engineering Department, and all the professors of Vidyavardhinis College of Engineering and Technology, for their advice and timely encouragement which as kept me motivated very high.

We are also grateful to our Principal, Dr. Harish V. Vankudre and the college authorities for providing us the facilities and excellent amenities.

We are very thankful towards my faculty advisor and all faculty members of Civil Engineering Department for their help and encouragement during the project.

Lastly we would like to appreciate all those people who have helped during our entire project which includes Pankaj Kamothi and Dilip Waghani who improvised survey forms, parents, friends and also those who gave us the knowledge about our project through data or by any other means.


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