LIFE-CHANGING support for employees is being provided by complete construction partner Stepnell, through a number of new initiatives and tools to help increase the awareness around mental health in construction and enhance employee health and safety.
Stepnell has taken action to address the issues by significantly increasing the number of mental health first aiders and rolling out mental health awareness training for all of its employees – including stress management, guidance on how to better manage time and advice for improving personal wellbeing.
According to the suicide by occupation report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 240 suicides have been reported within the construction industry and building trades in England during 2019, significantly outnumbering all other recognised industries and indicating a mental health crisis in the industry.
In addition, the Chartered Institute of Building reported in 2020 that 26 per cent of construction workers had experienced suicidal thoughts and 97 per cent had experienced stress over the previous year.
Tom Wakeford, joint managing director at Stepnell, said: “As a construction partner, we recognised a direct response was needed to address these troubling statistics. We are now proud to provide a range of mental health support mechanisms to help people in a number of ways.
“We take the wellbeing of team members very seriously and recognise our responsibility to always be there for our colleagues and look out for one another. The industry can be stereotyped as a ‘tough’ industry, with middle-aged men working on building sites where people’s feelings are often not spoken about, but in fact it is much more than that and these stereotypes aren’t doing any favours for this challenging sector.
“The industry has been hit hard like many industries over the past year, but by implementing these new initiatives we hope it will help to offer support and show that we are listening to our team members. Stepnell has also increased the number of mental health first aiders in the firm and has revised a clear approach for how they can support colleagues, with line managers and all members of the senior team having undergone mental health training.”
Follow-up support using online platform Clear Review – an employee engagement software that improves performance and wellbeing – has encouraged employees to have one-to-one conversations with colleagues, with a regular review process allowing for a clear and continual approach to identify and address any concerns.
Stepnell has implemented an employee assistance programme for those that require additional support, which gives free access to confidential one-to-one counselling sessions. This is offered through Health Assured, a free helpline for support and guidance on health, legal and financial matters. This includes an app that provides webinars – featuring famous speakers – and a mood calendar to help employees track how they are feeling.
Stepnell has also implemented an agile working policy, which includes three days working in the office and two days remotely, with core working hours from 9:00am to 4:30pm to ensure that employees are still able to cooperate on tasks throughout the week, but can also enjoy an improved work-life balance after finishing at 4.30pm.
Tom added: “We have experienced great success with the changes to increased flexible working so far, and we have noticed the benefits that this creates for employee wellbeing and productivity.
“It is well known that the construction industry suffers from higher levels of mental-health related problems, and through a combination of training and access to counselling, we want to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and educate our employees on how, where and when to seek help if they need it.”