Companies are always on the lookout for employees who will stay long-term and are committed to growing and improving. Likewise, employees want to work for companies that will provide them with opportunities to develop their skills.

Mentorships are a great way to help employees, both new and experienced, expand their knowledge and personal development. They focus on positive workplace behavior and performance, providing employees with the training needed to be successful.

Traditionally, mentoring relationships have involved senior employees guiding their younger colleagues, but hierarchy and age aren’t necessarily important in modern workforces. As long as mentors have experience that can help others learn, this is all that matters. For instance, younger employees can teach older employees about ever-changing technology in the workplace.

Successful mentoring relationships can also naturally create a rich multigeneration office culture by combining the top qualities of each participant. Senior employees traditionally have a great work ethic, loyalty and dedication. Whereas, younger employees may come to work with new ideas and passion. Together, they can make for a positive and effective team.

Research has shown that workers who have a mentor enjoy greater job satisfaction, and mentors learn from those they are guiding. But, mentoring in the workplace not only benefits the mentors and mentored, it also benefits companies with increased employee retention and knowledge sharing. On top of that, mentoring programs have shown to increase company diversity, with participation expanding minority representation in management-level positions.

Top Benefits of Mentorship in the Workplace

Mentors
Mentored
Company
  • Better Job Satisfaction
  • Better Job Satisfaction
  • Better Employee Satisfaction
  • Increased Pride
  • Increased Self-confidence
  • Higher Employee Retention
  • Improved Communication Skills
  • Desire to Achieve Goals
  • Diversity of Leadership
  • Improved Knowledge Sharing
  • Skill Development
  • Increased Knowledge Sharing
  • Experience for Leadership Roles
  • Greater Probability of Promotion
  • Improved Company Culture

Something important to note is that mentoring relationships should never be forced. This can cause employees to resent the idea as an obligatory task. Instead, sharing the positive benefits with employees and offering to help connect them with a mentor, when and if they are ready, is most effective. To be prepared, companies should gather information about employee skills, communication styles and career goals. A major key to successful mentorship relationships is connecting employees who communicate well together, can connect on a personal level and are working toward attaining similar goals.

In the end, mentors need to feel that their time is valued in order to achieve a successful mentorship relationship. Those who are mentored must think of the experience as an investment in their growth, rather than a sure path to promotion.

Apprenticeships prepare workers for highly skilled construction jobs. Employers invest time and money in hands-on training, often along with regular classes. The model provides valuable real-world experience and educational instruction for workers who would like to break into an industry that is new to them. The end goal of an apprenticeship is attaining national skills standards and becoming licensed in a particular skilled trade.

There are many benefits to apprenticeship. However, many people often overlook apprenticeships, instead opting to attend college or beginning their career with an entry-level position.

Here are the top three reasons to consider an apprenticeship:

  1. Learning While Earning
    Going off to college or a trade school can be a great educational experience, but it can cost a lot of money that many simply do not have. On top of that, it can be challenging to hold a full-time job in order to pay for expenses while in school.

    Apprentices are paid a basic living wage (the national average is $15/hour) to start while also learning and gaining experience every day. As an apprentice’s skills grow, wage increases and promotions often follow.
  1. Access to Ongoing Mentoring
    Apprentices are usually assigned a mentor who is an experienced construction professional. The mentor’s role is to help plan and guide an apprentice’s learning along the way. They provide valuable feedback and support to improve an apprentice’s skills and are always available to answer questions.
  2. Increased Future Opportunities
    Being involved with the day-to-day operations of a business during an apprenticeship, which usually takes two to four years to complete, allows apprentices to make connections with many important people within the industry.

    Future employers will also see the hard work that was required to complete the apprenticeship and will surely value that education and work ethic when considering hiring an individual.

    In addition, apprentices have the potential to earn college credit toward a degree through their apprenticeship program, should they decide to work towards gaining an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree at a later date.

The apprenticeship model prepares workers to compete in today’s economy. The hands-on training keeps apprentices current with innovations and technology. Moreover, the majority of apprentices stay on as full-time employees upon completion of an apprenticeship, allowing for a successful long-term career with a competitive salary without college debt.

The RK Apprenticeship Program helps provide skills for a much needed construction workforce. If you are interested in starting an apprenticeship in construction, click here to learn more about what our program offers.

 

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year was anything but predictable or normal. Predictions for 2021 are cautiously optimistic with a combination of positive and some negative growth for the construction industry, arguably one of the largest sectors worldwide. Although large hotel and higher education projects have declined recently, others have increased, such as healthcare facilities and warehouse construction to meet current needs.

Because of measurements put in place to keep everyone safe, businesses have had to change how they function and communicate both internally and externally, limiting in-person interactions. This has also caused delays in some projects. The need to know what is happening on a job site has become greater than ever. As a result, even in an industry that is otherwise resistant to embracing new technology, construction has seen an increase in adoption of construction-specific technology, from BIM to 3D-printing, facilitating a more versatile way of working.

Without further ado, here are the top eight construction trends predicted for 2021.

  1. Keeping focused on safety with continued social distancing, protective gear and enhanced protocols for cleanliness
  2. Increased hiring for seamless execution of current and unexpected future projects
  3. Implementation of construction-specific equipment and technology to supplement a declining workforce
  4. Expanded distribution and manufacturing facilities to meet current e-commerce demands
  5. More complex urban development and infrastructure projects
  6. Renewed focus on sustainability and renewable energy
  7. Expanded use of modular construction, increasing quality while also reducing costs and project timelines
  8. Increased construction cost and pressure on the bottom line, as net profits remain slim

Construction companies must prepare themselves for the uncertain future. Luckily, with many recent innovations already in place, the construction industry has begun to optimize processes in all phases of construction.

Key developments in the construction industry will likely continue to grow and change as we progress through 2021, and we look forward to it.

 

Digital Builder, 2021 Construction Trends: 20 Insights from Experts, 12.17.20
Construction Dive, 2021 Outlook: 6 Trends that Will Influence Construction this Year, 1.04.21
Chad Fisher Construction, Commercial Construction Trends For 2021, 12.07.20
Method:CRM, Key trends in the construction industry for 2021, accessed 1.19.21
Let’s Build, 5 construction trends you want to look out for in 2021, accessed 1.19.21

Culture is the character of an organization. It’s the values, traditions, behaviors, interactions and attitudes displayed every day. Workplace culture is to an organization what personality is to an individual.

Positive workplace culture attracts talented people, affects happiness, engagement and satisfaction, while also improving performance. A company’s culture is influenced by everything from leadership and management to workplace policies, practices and people.

When looking to work for a company, the primary factors are often the company’s brand value and compensation to employees. While many believe these are enough to attract talent, work culture often plays an even bigger role in retaining good employees. Workplace culture makes some places great to work and other places miserable. It affects relationships between employees and leadership. This can mean the difference between working with each other for the common good of the company or arguing every step of the way.

A company’s culture is so important in bringing out the best in employees even during not-so-great times. Negativity not only crushes creativity and an employee’s will to perform but also stops the development of dedication to a company’s success.

When it comes down to it, humans are relatively simple beings. Working in a positive environment with a good culture affects the way we think and how we act with one another. So, make your workplace a positive one!

RK strives to create a rewarding workplace for employees by hosting several employee-focused events and recognition ceremonies throughout the year, check them out here.

By: RK Water

In the second installment of “Understanding Dewatering,” we’re diving into the importance of representative groundwater sampling — one of the most undervalued aspects of temporary dewatering.

According to Pinyon Environmental, “The groundwater chemistry data collected for permit applications is often flawed because the collection techniques don’t adequately mimic the turbidity associated with the various construction means and methods. This results in either an under- or over-representation of the geotechnical impacts. And under-represented geotechnical condition could result in [the] under-design of the treatment system and [introduce] potential project delays and unanticipated costs.”

Groundwater sampling is essential because each of the following behaviors has the potential to distort groundwater treatment requirements by inadequately characterizing the groundwater chemistry:

Be sure to uplevel the sampling process by taking heed of potential sample biases. A sampling event is merely a description of general chemistry at a specific moment in time. When test wells are installed, not only will the groundwater table vary according to each well, but the chemistry of groundwater will also fluctuate, sometimes drastically.  Clay layering, bedrock, and underground rivers are below the surface, which is what causes naturally occurring obstructions; these obstructions can introduce chemistry variances that will be overlooked if only one test well is used.

Sampling activities over an extended period of time will provide a more accurate measurement of fluctuations in the groundwater table and its chemistry.  Furthermore, water that is allowed to stagnate with soil, will naturally contain higher levels of heavy metals and other contaminants. Through proper purge procedure, or even extending beyond the minimum, it is possible to obtain lower levels of heavy metals in the sample.

Once dewatering commences, groundwater will begin flowing downstream according to the natural flow of alluvial groundwater. Research also needs to be conducted regarding existing dewatering permits in the vicinity of the project to validate results from sampling activities. More importantly, permits upstream of the project will identify the chemistry to anticipate through continued dewatering activities. In the end, it’s not always about the chemistry of the groundwater within the confines of your shoring, but what’s in your neighbor’s groundwater that may make or break a project.

By: RK Water

The use of steam boilers for industries in the U.S. is essential, especially when you consider they are used in highly monitored industries including food and beverage processing, medical facilities, power generation and sanitation. One of the main components in a successfully functioning steam boiler is the quality of its feed water.

In order to ensure proper operation of steam boilers, high purity water is required. However, through years of experience, RK Water has discovered that the single biggest issue in nonfunctioning steam boilers is poor feed water pretreatment, or, in some instances, no pretreatment at all. This leads to much larger maintenance problems.

TOP 3 REASONS FOR FEED WATER PRETREATMENT IN STEAM BOILERS

  1. Boiler failures result in operational downtime, repair and cleaning expenses
  2. Extensive scale deposits require more fuel for steam production
  3. Hot spots can cause boiler tube corrosion or failure

The evidence of poor pretreatment speaks volumes about the importance of having a scheduled service in place. A good boiler feed water treatment system will help you avoid costly plant downtime, expensive maintenance fees and boiler failures as a result of scaling, corrosion and pollutants in the boiler and downstream equipment.

If you suspect you are having issues with pretreatment, allow RK Water to take a sample of your feed water and run several tests to see what level of hardness is making it to your boiler. Our team can make recommendations, adjustments and even studies and analysis of your current system to see what best meets your needs.

By: RK Water

Before and during the excavation phase, project developers, architects, general contractors and other project partners take many considerations into account when planning the groundwork for a project including soil analysis, solar angles and other site-specific conditions. One of the most overlooked and under-valued planning activities involves an analysis of groundwater on the project site and how it may affect the project. This step is essential; those who skip it are at risk for project shut down or slow down due to unidentified water.

Dewatering is the action of removing groundwater or surface water from a construction site. It’s most commonly performed due to water that has accumulated during excavations or in places with a high water table. In these cases, the water must be removed for safety in order to proceed with construction as scheduled.

So, what’s required to dewater your next project? We will dive into four key pillars in future blogs to include:

With proper planning, treatment of groundwater on construction projects can be a manageable process that allows your timeline to remain on track.

Did you know that RK Water provides temporary and permanent dewatering services? Our team treats a wide variety of water contamination issues in dewatering operations from Total Suspended Solids (TSS) removal to complicated remediation activities. RK Water approaches every project with a high level of engagement leading up to project commencement followed by unmatched field service during dewatering and remediation operations. Contact Steven Cummings at Steven.Cummings@rk-water.com to discuss a groundwater plan for your next project.

By: RK Mechanical

Working outside during the winter can leave construction workers susceptible to hypothermia, frostbite or trench foot, a decaying of the feet due to prolonged cold and wet conditions. In extreme cases, workers without proper personal protection equipment can also suffer shock that could even lead to death. Not only do workers need to stay warm and dry to prevent health risks, but it’s also important to eat properly, stay active and keep an eye on coworkers.

Productivity is often delayed due to harsh weather. So, work hours should be scheduled during the warmest part of the day. Below are some recommendations to stay warm, healthy and safe during the winter season.

Winter Clothing and Layering Reduce Injury Risks

Clothing should be selected to suit temperature, conditions, duration of the activity and location. Wearing proper clothing and layering can reduce sweating and the risk of injury. It’s best to avoid cotton material, as once it gets wet from rain, snow or sweat, it will begin to extract heat out of the body. Some alternate material choices are fleece, wool, Thinsulate, nylon and polypropylene. Weather can change rapidly, therefore it is important to plan and dress accordingly.

The top nine types of clothing to wear while working in the cold:

  1. Thermal insulated coveralls
  2. Thermal polyester underwear
  3. Fleece or wool liner for hard hat
  4. Insulated gloves, mittens should be worn for extreme temperatures below -17 degrees
  5. Wrap-around eye protection
  6. Scarves
  7. Thick socks: layer two pairs to stay warmer longer, but avoid a tight fit which restricts circulation
  8. Insulated boots
  9. Waterproof/windproof external layers

Warm Break Areas Help Re-energize

When spending long hours exposed to the elements, a warm area to rest will help workers warm up and re-energize. Breaks are of the utmost importance, but without a warm and comfortable place to rest, breaks can be useless. For long-term construction projects, setting up a warming shelter is a must. Temporary tents with portable heaters can be used for smaller projects.

Incorporate a Buddy System to Stay Safe

Avoid traveling or working on your own unless someone knows your route and estimated time of return. Workers in frigid weather can show signs of uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech and erratic behavior. Keep an eye on your peers to help them stay safe.

If a co-worker is showing early signs of Hypothermia, like uncontrollable shivering, apply these treatments to help:

If more severe signs are present, such as slurred speech or erratic behavior, call for emergency help right away. While waiting for help to arrive, provide warm drinks, extra layers and heating blankets, if available.

Hydration and Good Snacks are Important in the Winter

Save Your Skin from Freezing Temperatures

It’s especially important to stress these simple points to people who may not be accustomed to cold temperatures. Holding safety meetings to help workers identify the signs and symptoms of cold-related illness and injuries and training them how to prevent and treat these injuries can save lives.

At RK, we take safety seriously and empower our employees to stop work if unsafe conditions exist. We encourage our employees to take responsibility for their own safety, as well as that of those working alongside them. Working responsibly in cold weather is no exception.

RK assesses how every aspect of our work integrates to improve your project. From conception through completion, we streamline the process while maximizing value. The combined skill set of our seven business units makes us the region’s most powerful single source for mechanical contracting, custom manufacturing, steel fabrication, prefabricated construction, facilities services, electrical work and water treatment solutions. If you would like to know more about our safety procedures or have questions about what we can do for your business, contact us at communications@rkindustries.com.

By: RK Water

The water treatment industry is evolving to reduce the use of chemical treatments and eliminate some products that are no longer viable given today’s environmental legislation as well as corporate sustainability initiatives. Facilities, as well as Facility Operators, need solutions to keep up with the times.

As government regulations continue to become more stringent, water treatment programs must adapt. New technologies that provide greener, safer and sustainable solutions are becoming more readily available to help meet these regulations. One such technology, the Silver Bullet® system, is gaining traction as a viable way to reduce traditional chemicals as well as kill microbiological agents through natural processes.

RK Water has achieved positive results, reducing liquid chemistry by over 80{daeb8d662f58e4975bc93960761d671bdf0aa2ad049ea8a375d2717d280ef80b}, using the Silver Bullet system with clients that are seeking sustainable water treatment solutions for HVAC evaporative cooling (comfort cooling) or process cooling, particularly in industries including high-tech, financial, education and government.

Corporate sustainability is a growing trend and now impacts many business decisions and purchases. Many big-name corporations, like Google, are ISO 14001 certified as well. ISO 14001 is a set of standards to help organizations minimize their impact on the environment during the process of how their products or services are produced.

Whether an organization’s goal is LEED points, reducing environmental impacts and carbon footprints or reducing water usage and waste, Silver Bullet can be a key component of a sustainability program. It can help a facility reduce biocides and large containers of inhibitor, and also reduce the logistics, transportation, storage and liability issues that are inherent with chemical-based water treatment.

If your facility has ever experienced a chemical spill or leak, you know how excruciating it can be to conduct a clean-up. It’s worth considering the Silver Bullet system as an add-on to your current water program. A water system with reduced chemicals not only helps achieve sustainability goals but is also safer for people.

If you have questions or want RK Water to conduct a water treatment evaluation to improve your entire water system and help your company go green faster, contact Dan Inman at Dan.Inman@rk-water.com.

By: RK Water

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that Legionnaires’ disease nearly quadrupled in the United States from 2000 to 2015, and most cases could have been prevented with water treatment solutions to prohibit legionella bacterial growth in water.

From 2000 through 2014, legionellosis increased nearly fourfold, from .42 to 1.62 cases per 100,000 persons. The disease is contracted when a person breathes small droplets of water contaminated with the bacteria Legionella. In the past year, about 5,000 Americans were diagnosed, and more than 20 outbreaks were reported. About one in ten infected persons will die from the infection, and most require hospital care to make a full recovery.

The CDC cited that cooling towers are a common source of infection and must be properly maintained to prevent legionellosis, and they recently released a toolkit: Developing a Water Management Program to Reduce Legionalla Growth and Spread in Buildlings: A Practical Guide to Implementing Standards.

Most facilities managers are now familiar with ASHRAE 188-2015 which mandates that everyone with responsibility for centralized water systems-owners, corporate managers, operators and facility managers-must proactively reduce and prevent legionella growth. RK Water provides chemical treatment programs that can be added to existing water treatment programs to reduce the odds of legionella.

We also offer innovative non-chemical technologies like Silver Bullet which uses biocide oxidizers, known as hydroxyl radicals, to kill bacteria and maintain it at low and safe levels-even more effectively than chlorine. In a 2012 University of Pittsburgh study, Silver Bullet™ reduced free-floating legionella bacteria concentration by 78.1{daeb8d662f58e4975bc93960761d671bdf0aa2ad049ea8a375d2717d280ef80b}. It also reduced free-floating Heterotrophic Plate Count (HPC) bacteria by 98.8{daeb8d662f58e4975bc93960761d671bdf0aa2ad049ea8a375d2717d280ef80b} and immobile HPC bacteria by 85.9{daeb8d662f58e4975bc93960761d671bdf0aa2ad049ea8a375d2717d280ef80b}. The HPC test measures microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast and mold in drinking water.

Silver Bullet is safe, quick to install and doesn’t require a large capital investment. The equipment is installed at a facility as an adjunct to its existing water system and the facility pays a monthly rental fee. No large equipment to purchase, and RK Water handles installation, service and maintenance. Want to protect your water system from Legionella? Consider Silver Bullet if you prefer a non-chemical, sustainable solution.