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Workplace Wellbeing Show takes place on 8–10 September 2020. Get your free ticket today to access solutions, expertise and networking opportunities across three days at ExCeL London.
The UK construction industry is in the midst of a wellbeing crisis: according to the Office of National Statistics, the suicide rate for male labourers is three times higher than the national average.
Construction workers are susceptible to mental ill-health because of heavy workloads (sometimes literally) and a culture of silence, made worse by a typically masculine environment that frowns upon visible signs of perceived ‘weakness’. That means improving workplace wellbeing in the construction industry must involve both introducing wellness programmes and instituting cultural change.
Changing the culture
Attitudes are beginning to change, although the construction sector is far away from treating mental health challenges as equal to the physical threats it is more familiar with. To drive this cultural change and promote wellbeing, the industry requires the engagement of employers, managers and individual workers alike.
For instance, employers need to help drive the conversation, eliminate the stigma and institute plans and strategies to manage workplace stress. Managers need to promote a good work-life balance and encourage employees to speak to them about their troubles by creating a safe, confidential environment away from stigma. Employees need to know when to seek help, and how to provide support to each other; the latter is especially important, as only 1 in 4 men feel comfortable talking to friends and family about mental health, according to the Mental Health Foundation.
Changing the work environment
Construction workers receive very little respite from the noise, dust, pressure and danger of the construction site. That’s why site managers need to do more to provide safe, quiet areas for relaxation and socialising, and encourage workers to take breaks. On especially noisy sites, it may also be worth insulating these spaces, making it easier for workers to switch off, and providing a valuable boost to mental and physical wellbeing.
Training is invaluable—yet curiously undervalued. This can mean offering stress management tools to workers, and helping managers identify the signs of stress. The aim should be to keep people informed and educated, and make sure they know how and where to seek help and support. Educating people is the first step towards changing attitudes.
Why is this so important?
Men make up the overwhelming majority of construction workers. They also commit 76% of all recorded suicides. Promoting workplace wellbeing in construction will literally save lives, help more men come to terms with their mental ill-health, and encourage them to seek out help and share their troubles with their colleagues, friends, family and managers.
There’s also a demonstrable link between workplace wellbeing and productivity. Better wellbeing provision will result in:
Investing in employee wellbeing makes your company an attractive proposition for prospective recruits, and positions you as a national wellbeing leader. With workplace wellbeing still relatively low on the priority list for most construction companies, it’s an opportunity to set yourself apart.
To start the conversation about how you can improve your wellbeing provision, access expertise from national thought leaders and discover solutions, get your free ticket to Workplace Wellbeing Show, taking place on 8–10 September 2020 at ExCeL London.