Contractors and Subcontractors – Collaboration for Effective Social Value Outcomes

Executive Summary

This report delves into the multifaceted collaboration between main contractors and subcontractors to  maximise social value outcomes in construction projects. Beyond the foundational elements of  providing information at the bid stage, this report explores additional strategies and approaches for  effective collaboration. The focus is on sustained commitment to social value, offering support  throughout the project lifecycle, recognising subcontractors’ impactful initiatives, and integrating  innovative strategies for enhanced synergy. 

To read the full report on a PDF, please click here.


The construction industry’s growing emphasis on social value requires a strategic and collaborative  approach between main contractors and subcontractors. This report not only outlines fundamental  strategies but also delves into nuanced and additional ways in which both parties can work together  synergistically, ensuring that construction projects have a lasting positive impact on the communities  they serve. 


  1. Passing on Local Needs Analysis: 

Before the commencement of the bidding process, a comprehensive local needs analysis is imperative.  Main contractors are likely to have gathered and analysed data regarding the social, economic, and  environmental needs of the project’s local community. Subcontractors should be provided with this  information during the tendering phase to ensure their proposals are aligned with the identified needs,  reflecting a genuine commitment to addressing community concerns. 


  1. List of Organisations at Bid Stage: 

Equipping subcontractors with a comprehensive list of local organisations during the bid stage is vital.  This facilitates early engagement with community groups, nonprofits, and government agencies,  allowing collaboration and ensuring that the unique insights and resources of these entities are  integrated into the project’s planning and execution. 

  1. Engaging Local Stakeholders Jointly: 

Main contractors and subcontractors should actively and jointly engage with local stakeholders,  including community members, local authorities, and non-governmental organisations. These  participation and stakeholder engagement sessions ensures that social value initiatives are not only  aligned with project goals but also resonate with the genuine needs of the local area. 


  1. Support from Bid through Project Completion: 

Continuous and effective support is fundamental for continued collaboration. Main contractors should  consider offering assistance and training throughout the project lifecycle. This support incorporates navigating requirements, providing guidance on community engagement, and addressing any challenges  that arise. Such ongoing support ensures that subcontractors are well-equipped to contribute  meaningfully to the project’s social value objectives. 


  1. Recognising and Replicating Good Work: 

Acknowledging the initiatives already being undertaken by subcontractors is an essential factor of  effective collaboration. Main contractors should actively look for input from subcontractors regarding  successful practises in their respective local communities and recognise these contributions, even when  not directly linked to the project site, are just as important. Dismissing these activities, especially in the  context of showcasing effective social value, would overlook valuable opportunities to replicate good  work. These insights serve as a crucial resource for customising successful social value strategies within  the specific project areas. 


  1. Joint Social Value Workshops: 

Organising joint workshops would provide a structured platform for achieving a shared understanding  and commitment between main contractors and subcontractors. These workshops should cover a  spectrum of topics, including community engagement, environmental, sustainability, and inclusive  employment practises. The goal is to foster open communication and the development of a unified  approach to social value. 

  1. Coordinated Resource Sharing: 

Establishing mechanisms for coordinated resource sharing is crucial for creating a collaborative  environment. This includes sharing best practises, case studies, and lessons learnt from previous  projects. Collaborative platforms, regular knowledge-sharing sessions, and the establishment of a  collective repository of expertise contribute to the mutual benefit of main contractors and  subcontractors. 


  1. Subcontractor Capacity Building: 

Main contractors should look to provide targeted training programmes, mentorship opportunities, and  access to resources that enable subcontractors to enhance their such as providing access to supply chain  sustainability school and/or similar organisations. This capacity-building initiative not only benefits  individual subcontractors but also strengthens the overall resilience and competency of the supply  chain.


  1. Incentive Structures for Social Value: 

Incorporating incentive structures within subcontractor contracts is a powerful motivator for  outstanding contributions to social value. These incentives may include financial rewards, public  recognition, or the opportunity to participate in future projects. Aligning incentives with social value  goals ensures a collective commitment to achieving positive project outcomes. 


  1. Technology Integration for Collaboration: 

Leveraging technology platforms enhances collaboration by facilitating real-time information exchange  and coordination. Shared project management tools, communication apps, and collaborative platforms  streamline processes, improve efficiency, and contribute to transparency in the collaboration between main contractors and subcontractors. 


  1. Regular Performance Reviews: 

Implementing regular performance reviews focused on social value metrics is essential for accountability  and continuous improvement. Main contractors and subcontractors should collaboratively review  progress, identify areas for enhancement, and celebrate successes. This feedback loop contributes to  the refinement of social value strategies throughout the project lifecycle. 


In conclusion, although this list is by no means exhaustive, by implementing these collaborative  strategies, main contractors and subcontractors are able to create a comprehensive and impactful  approach to social value in construction projects. This approach not only fulfils social responsibility but  also contributes to sustainable, socially responsible outcomes that go beyond project completion. The  detailed and multifaceted nature of these strategies highlights the complexity of collaboration in the  realm of social value, emphasising the need for a holistic and sustained commitment from all  stakeholders involved in construction projects.