In Europe, a better way of working with trade partners

By 2030, DPR Construction (DPR) aims to be one of the most admired companies in the world. As part of that mission, DPR is seeking to disrupt Europe’s construction industry, where DPR has been officially operating since 2018.

DPR conducts business in accordance with an operating code that includes respecting the individual. This includes interactions among employees, but also with customers, colleagues, vendors and communities. Acutely true on projects and how DPR interacts with trade partners and subcontractors, this philosophy led to a recently launched Craft Reward and Recognition Program on a project in Switzerland. The endeavor, directly correlated to DPR’s “culture of discipline” around safety and an Incident Free Environment (IFE), focused on keeping people safe through education and training while also facilitating a better way of working with trade partners.

Group of trade partners and DPR individuals sitting in a conference room.
Sitting down with trade partners in Switzerland to share thoughts and ideas about the project. Courtesy of Erin Carpenter

"Craft recognition is just one of the initiatives that is part of this program. Engaging with workers who are actively building projects leads to a better understanding of potential process improvements and creates more cohesion among all stakeholders, ultimately resulting in better project delivery and customer satisfaction,” says Erin Carpenter, DPR Project Engineer in Switzerland who is spearheading the trade partner appreciation program at DPR Europe.

The construction market in Europe is often perceived as more hierarchical and communication more top-down. Expanding to the continent, DPR has brought over from the U.S. its collaborative culture and way of working to the region. The company operates as one DPR and strives for all stakeholders to have the same experience when working together, regardless of where in the world the project is located.

Meeting with workers face-to-face creates freedom to share thoughts and ideas for better project execution holding all project team members accountable and bridging the gap between management and boots-on-ground workers. Additionally, providing trade partners with a voice helps to mitigate potential issues and enables a path to successful and safer projects.

Construction workers celebrating their safety accomplishments.
Safety competitions and awards to champion behaviors that support safe environments on projects. Courtesy of Erin Carpenter

Safety competitions and awards are another way to champion behaviors that support an Incident Free Environment. Instead of making assumptions about rewards that appeal to project teammates, reward ideas are gathered directly from the workers. For example, in lieu of tech gadgets, one project worker indicated they would like to have new work clothes -boots, t-shirt, work pants and jackets. Providing project teammates with a platform to communicate what is important to them helps to build relationships, belonging and team engagement.

Group of workers listening to a meeting on the jobsite, photo is taken outdoors.
Engaging with workers to better understand process improvements and create cohesion leads to better project delivery. Courtesy of Erin Carpenter

“I truly want workers to walk away saying no one has ever had as much genuine respect and care for people on a site as DPR does,” added Carpenter.

“We must all have a personal commitment to safety and understand this is included within being a world-class company. Having the Craft Safety Break activity, for example, shows how we as a company are engaging with the workers and has us communicate positive feedback, as well as making us hold ourselves accountable by reviewing how often we are physically onsite, checking and engaging with the workers.”

“Our collaborative teams and way of working thrives on the ideas, insight, and active involvement of all stakeholders on a project. DPR is deeply committed to fostering a work environment that literally breaks down traditional walls in order to build great things in a way that respects everyone.”