Rebuilding how construction workers experience safety.

Skanska Employee Experience in Construction


Help shift safety culture without adding complexity or labor.


A two-year pilot with eleven pioneering prototypes aligned with a new human-centered strategy.


Skanska, a global construction and development company, is a leader in the industry. They win ambitious projects and build iconic landmarks, all while maintaining a solid reputation for safety and quality in their work.

Over the years, the industry at large has been able to reduce injuries by making improvements to equipment and procedures, but everybody reached a “safety plateau” in 2010—seeing only fractions of a percent of change since. With safety standards firmly rooted, the reasons people get hurt have become more nuanced and complex. Our goal is to uncover opportunities and insights that can guide decision-making at every level and introduce new methods that facilitate safe work and services to support the changing needs of the workforce.

Together with Friends, Skanska launched a two-year pilot with eleven pioneering prototypes ranging from human services and built environments to culture change and communication.

Field Research

Sunrise, long drives, burnt salmon, and working alongside the masters of change.

To understand the current-state we spent 8 weeks in research mode, focusing most of our energy in the field with the tradespeople. We learned first-hand about the tension inherent in their lives on and off the construction site, their needs and the office’s, safety and expertise. We got limber together, burned salmon together, got and gave nicknames, and felt a lot of love in the sharp humor that was endless.

Some of our people live hours away from job sites. They love to hunt and fish, as much as they love Tolkien and How to Win Friends and Influence People. It wasn’t uncommon for them to be divorced and remarried, to eat gluten-free but dive head first into pizza *sometimes*. They have a lot to be proud of and love sharing stories with their kids, like the time someone forgot “a bologna sandwich in the footing of a building”.

The way you got ‘em to open up to you is unreal. – Bob Paddock Senior Superintendent

We know for a fact that the work takes a real toll on their bodies and that their industry is inherently about change. Adapting and problem solving on the fly are necessary and natural. In the span of one day, there was a meeting with the city that determined the fate of a building, deliveries were both late and early, a crane operator was out sick, engineers cranked out the latest plans, walls of iron went up, and new faces arrived on site, some who had never worked on a Skanska job before.

We walked away from research with a profound respect for the people and the work. We recognized the many forces at play and the creativity that comes with constant change. In the end, there wasn’t one issue we could point to as the root cause of safety incidents—it was an ecosystem of forces.

engagement strategy

A service ecosystem inspired by artists, hospitals, behavioral psychologists, Disneyland, and the NFL.

Coming out of research, we designed Illustrated Insights to make our findings more shareable. We spoke with experts: behavioral psychologists, the designers behind groundbreaking NFL helmets, professional stuntmen, and rock climbers. We introduced industry analogs to spark creativity—including a deep dive on the behavior-guiding environments and safety inherent to Disneyland’s design. We held Spark Sessions with our creative community to generate new-to-the-world concepts for products, services, environments, rituals, and more.

Leading with all of the above, we held co-design sessions with several Skanska teams. Together, we created an ecosystem approach to safety and job site experience. The ideas and strategies address requirements, services, communications, physical environment, collective and personal experience. Like any ecosystem, the ideas function at their best together but continue to work and support our people when one is removed. Addressing multiple forces at once, staged over time to coincide with key moments in construction and change with the needs of our people.

Over the next few years, we will implement, iterate, and improve on our ideas with the plan to share our approach nationally and globally. The first projects to rollout are the visual program, orientation space, and playbook below—with more to come.

Visual Program

A bold new visual system, meticulously crafted with safety in mind.

Safety signage is often a perfunctory element on construction sites, lacking visual cohesion, and as such, lacking the clarity required to create a safe working environment. We were charged with creating a unified visual system consisting of new colors, language, typography, and icons to elevate job site experience beyond any in the field.

Bold new colors expand on the high-viz palette of traditional safety signage. We established vivid formulations of red, yellow, and blue to increase visibility on dynamic construction sites, ensuring that dangers are easily visible and communicated to workers in the field.

Using this framework, we established a hierarchy for messaging and iconography to increase comprehension and clarity. A scalable grid system provides continuity across all sizes and shapes of signage.

Taken together, our innovations in color, typography, and systems thinking resulted in a bold, plainspoken signage system, affirming Skanska’s commitment to being a leader in safety.

Our Role

  • Audience Research & Definition
  • Employee Engagement Blueprint
  • Creative Leadership
  • Pilot Strategy & Rollout Plan
  • Content Production
  • Service Design
  • Visual Language & Verbal Identity
  • Spacial Design & Wayfinding
  • Community Engagement
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