We’ve developed a health and wellbeing strategy that combines awareness, prevention, health solutions and a support structure to empower our employees to be at their best. The strategy is underpinned by a Health and Wellbeing Framework, which focuses activities in four areas: supporting healthier minds, developing healthier bodies, building healthier places and creating healthier cultures. We target our investment to the needs of our employees based on employee health baseline data, which we gather from employee health checks, online assessments, workshops and surveys. This baseline ensures that each initiative has maximum impact on overall employee health, and we repeat it every two years in order to measure our strategic impact. More than 60% of our employees participate.
Since we started to focus on health and wellbeing three years ago a lot has happened. On mental health specifically, employees now have access to a network of more than 120 active Mental Health First Aiders who operate across our European business. In total more than 400 employees have received Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training and/or awareness training.
This has done a lot to reduce stigma and create a more open dialogue on this often ‘hidden’ topic. From January 2016, all our new employees receive MHFA Lite training as part of their induction, further embedding our ‘stigma-free’ culture.
In October 2015 we became the first company in the construction industry to publicly commit to and acknowledge employee mental health by signing the Time to Change pledge, England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. We hope to inspire our industry peers to do the same.
Poor mental health and suicide rates are higher in the construction industry than any other professional sector. The statistics are staggering: a construction worker commits suicide every two days in the UK, according to the union UCATT, and statistics from around the world show that construction workers are six times more likely to commit suicide than fall from a height. What we want to do next is take all we have learnt and done, and work with our supply chain to spread the impact. The industry is a melting pot for all the main mental health risk factors: it has a high proportion of men, people work very long days, often in poor weather, they are away from home for long periods of time, and they can face occupational redundancy (when one job ends they are never sure where the next will come from). The industry rightly puts so much effort into protecting the physical safety of its employees and we want to elevate mental health to the same standard.
In 2015 we introduced four days’ annual wellbeing leave for everyone. It is ok to work hard but people need time to recover. This leave—and we encourage employees to take a day every quarter, in addition to their annual leave allowance—helps us set that culture. Not only can people take a day off when they really need it, but also, spending a day doing something for themselves has a positive impact on morale, as well as helping them to return to work feeling more engaged and energised. Overall this increases employees’ mental and physical resilience.
As part of our approach to health, safety and wellbeing we actively encourage a work-life balance and a flexible approach to working. Nearly half (41%) of our employees now work on a flexible basis and they show higher levels of engagement too. We are working towards implementing a framework that will allow managers and teams to find flexible working solutions that accommodate different needs, priorities and lifestyles.
The benefits of CMHA membership include giving us access to different thinking and best practice, peer review and challenge of our approach, and being able to contribute to the kind of united voice that is so important when you are trying to change culture. Our people are telling us it’s making a difference.
Between 2013 and 2015 our engagement surveys showed a 67% increase in the number of employees who felt there was higher awareness around mental health and that they were personally more supported. There was an increase of 30% in the number of employees who felt more resilient.
We gather data on mental health via our engagement surveys and through participation in the programmes we run. We will support the CMHA minimum data set exercise and we participate in the Mind Benchmarking Index to identify gaps in what we offer and learn from best practice both inside and outside our industry.
The industry rightly puts so much effort into protecting the physical safety of its employees and we want to elevate mental health to the same standard.