Kelly Osborne: Can employers do more to support staff with stress?

We know that anxiety, stress and depression in the construction industry have been on the increase for several years, with more than 400,000 days of work lost each year in the sector because of poor mental health. Ours is an industry with a lifestyle that can be challenging, with demanding hours, and with many often working away from home on site for weeks. Businesses must do more than the norm to look after both the physical and mental health of their staff. Many are rightly focused on ensuring gold standard Health and Safety measures are in place to protect the physical health of workers on site, but many organisations are still afraid to tackle mental health head on in, often waiting until an issue arises before they do anything about it.

The more businesses can be proactive, the quicker they can start to normalise mental health conversations within their workplaces. That is what led us to launch a business-wide Bouncing Back programme of personal resilience training, to help colleagues to better manage stress. The training includes virtual workshops, online learning resources and an optional six-week check-in for every participant. The training will allow colleagues to recognise their own stress triggers and cope with stress more effectively; develop a positive mindset that avoids being overwhelmed by issues when they arise; and bounce back when times are difficult to deal with the challenges that the workplace can bring.

Since its launch last June, we are incredibly proud to have already offered the training to over 900 of our employees, with plans to roll it out across the whole organisation over the next three years. We’ve invested in mental health first aider training with 17 employees gaining applied suicide prevention skills training, boosting the 264-strong network. We have also introduced the Everymind at Work mental health app across all employees’ mobile phones, giving access to self-help articles including tips, personal stories, meditations, yoga flows, breathing exercises, plus a dedicated playlist that includes tons of wellbeing and resilience resources.

Initiating large-scale corporate change is often slow, and there is always more we can be doing to support our staff, but initiatives like these are a great place to start. We believe that opening up the conversation around mental health at management levels and educating employees on resilience will give us the practical tools to help deal with difficult situations inside and outside of the workplace.

Kelly Osborne is head of health and wellbeing at Wates Group

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