How to safeguard construction worker’s mental health


Caring for our mental health is just as important as looking after our physical health, but it can often go by the wayside when busy at work. In this article, Kelly Friel from Zoro explains how the industry can better safeguard construction worker’s mental health to ensure happier and more productive workers

According to research found in 2021, 91% of tradespeople experienced work-related stress at least once per month, and 58% of tradespeople have experienced poor mental health. The coronavirus pandemic has likely to have had an impact on construction worker’s mental health, as well as research that found that the average UK tradesperson is owed at least £1,000 in withheld payments.

How can you ensure better mental health amongst construction workers?

1) Identify mitigating factors

The first important thing to consider is which factors may be impacting your workers’ mental health.

Think about the types of contracts your business takes on, and what kind of hours, pay, and support these contracts contain. Ask your employees if there are any particular things causing them stress at work.

This might be things like the toilet facilities available on-site, unsociable working hours always falling on the same teams, or a workload that has swiftly increased.

By identifying these contributing factors, you will be able to form effective strategies for keeping up the morale of your workers long-term. Many mental health issues are still not well understood, and many people find it difficult to open up to others about these problems, particularly at work.

So, to understand how to identify mental health obstacles, it’s advisable that you and your management level staff complete training in this area so that you are clued up and confident in asking whether members of staff are in need of support.

Mental health training courses, particularly those specialised in work environments, are a great way to understand these issues.

What factors might impact mental health?

High workloads

In research conducted recently, 39% of male construction workers said high workloads are the main reason for their mental health struggles. This figure was 15% for women.

Finances

39% of women respondents said finances were their main worry.

Work culture

Work culture could also contribute to poor mental health, with 20% (one in five) of construction workers between 55 and 64 saying they experienced being on the receiving end of insults.

2) Providing training and support

Many people are not comfortable talking about their mental health, and the research backs this up in the construction sector too, with 66% of surveyors saying they don’t feel comfortable talking about it, along with 56% of plasterers, 38% of landscapers, 36% of plumbers, and 31% of carpenters.

So, encouraging your employees to access support should be an important part of your company culture.

As well as management-level staff receiving training on mental health, it’s useful to provide workshops for all staff, so that no one feels unable to talk about these problems.

You should also have appointed members of staff (usually a Human Resources professional) who workers can speak to regarding any mental health difficulties and necessary leave of absence from work.

3) Establishing a sustainable work-life balance

The construction industry can be a very busy one, with many staff members having to work unsociable shifts in order to make the most of the day.

This can make work-life balance difficult to achieve, which in turn can take a toll on people’s mental health. Furthermore, the Construction Skills Network forecast indicates that the output in the field will grow by 4.4% across 2022, meaning that the sector will need to recruit an additional 43,000 workers.

Many will experience having more projects on their plate than ever, so it’s important to care for the mental wellbeing of staff.

You can do this by ensuring that people take regular breaks throughout shifts, or are able to start earlier in the morning to complete their hours in time for the school run. If your workload increases, you should also consider hiring more staff so that people are not overworked.

4) Creating a positive and safe company culture

Having a positive company culture is one of the best ways to support construction worker’s mental health, and there are a variety of things you can do to achieve this.

As well as providing mental health workshops, you can also conduct regular team-building exercises so that people feel comfortable with their colleagues and can work more productively when on-site.

Other ways to build a good company culture include social events, industry networking, and courses for those who want to progress up the ladder. This encourages staff to spend time together and offers them a range of ways to move their career forward within the company.

This will result in more motivated and better-skilled staff, all adding to the positive atmosphere in your business.

It can be tricky as an employer to know how to safeguard the mental health of your staff. But these tips will get you started on ensuring that your business has the methodology in place to build a caring company culture.

Source: pbc today

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