For many of us, work is a major part of our lives, it’s where we spend a lot of our time, how we get an income and build friendships. Having a fulfilling job is good for your general wellbeing and also your mental health. There are times where life gets on top of us, and often that can be work related, family related or just personal circumstances.
As an employer, it’s your duty to protect employees and this can be done by addressing mental health concerns in the workplace and having a support system in place for those at risk. Toxic work environments can be detrimental to mental health and many employers may be ignorant to what goes on.
Workplaces must allow everyone to thrive and good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand. In this article, we will discuss how exactly you can protect your employee’s mental health and why it’s so important.
Mental Health in the Construction Industry
It is no secret that mental health issues affect the construction industry more severely than comparable industries. Male site workers are three times more likely to commit suicide than their non-construction counterparts; with men making up nearly 90% of the construction workforce, this is a clear systemic issue in the industry.
Mental health issues can strike anytime. The most recent survey from the Office of National Statistics found that between 2011 and 2015, of the 13,232 in-work suicides recorded, those within the skilled construction and building trades made up 13.2% – despite construction accounting for little over seven per cent of the UK workforce.
How Can Employers Shield Their Workforce From This Pervasive and Often Misunderstood Health and Safety Risk?
There are many risk factors involved in working in the construction industry, some of which are doubtless exacerbated by the current COVID-19 crisis. Long hours, and tough, physical work are commonplace among some sectors of the industry, although conditions have doubtlessly improved in recent decades.
Across all industries, health and safety still is not taken seriously enough by employers, leading to added stress from fear of physical harm in the workplace. As a result of the workforce being predominantly male in industries like construction, issues surrounding male mental health are endemic. Reporting issues to an employer may not come naturally to many employees on site, which results in suffering in silence.
How Can Employers Help Their Employees to Deal with Mental Health Issues in the Workplace?
The first step in helping employees who may be suffering from mental health issues is to create a supportive and positive culture. This involves management taking proactive steps towards uncovering issues within the workforce, which employees may be reticent to report.
They may feel reporting issues is a waste of time, or that they will be viewed negatively by colleagues if they do so. We have developed dedicated behavioural safety functionality on the Emex platform to help employees improve their workplace. By enabling employees to report anonymously from their personal device any mental health or physical safety issue, management can quickly and accurately resolve previously unknown problems.
Better Understand Employees
Great business starts on the inside and those people you employ are fundamental in keeping the business operational and for growth. The healthier your team is, the healthier the business. But as an employer, are you aware of the signs of workplace depression?
Knowing the signs involves getting to know your people and team. Creating a safe culture and environment, as well as taking the time to get to know your employees will allow you to become aware of shifts in mood or behaviours around the workplace. Utilise your HR team as they can keep on top of absence patterns and will be able to support any observations being made.
Model Healthy Behaviours
It is not enough to say that you support mental health, as an employer you must model it so that team members feel they can prioritise self-care and set boundaries. Manager’s tend to be too focused on their team’s wellbeing and let their own be forgotten about. Share anything you are doing to help your mental health such as taking regular walks on lunch breaks or taking time off work to relax so that you don’t completely burn out.
What are the Effects of the Pandemic on Mental Health?
The COVID pandemic has plunged many industries into disarray, including construction. Despite the government announcing that construction may resume, many employees remain on furlough or have been made redundant. Industry unease filters down into the workforce, who may be fearing for their future, and may contribute to mental health issues. How will the recession affect their livelihoods? And when they return to work, how will they be kept safe from COVID? They may be fearing for at risk family members, or be doubtful over measures put in place to keep them safe.
It is fundamentally important that as employers concentrate on protecting the physical safety of the workforce, they don't neglect a more insidious and harder to trace health risk. By giving employees the power to report issues and concerns in a safe and if needed, anonymous format, a culture of responsibility and kindness can be fostered.
How Can Emex Help You Better Support Mental Health in the Workplace?
Don’t miss an opportunity to address mental health by implementing Emex EHS, with a dedicated behavioural safety functionality to help employees improve the workplace. Your employees can report anonymously from their personal devices on any mental health or physical safety issues, allowing management to quickly and accurately resolve previously unknown problems. Find out more about the Emex EHS platform today.