Construction employers awarded the sector a score of only 4.5 out of 10 for its overall performance in managing workplace stress, according to the recent CITB ‘stress test’ survey.
Findings of the survey have been released to coincide with Mental Health Awareness week, which starts today. The telephone survey of over 100 construction employers found that more than a third (36%) described their workplace as a ‘high’ or ‘very high’ stress environment. One in five (20%) however, were unsure how they would support an employee suffering from work-related stress.
While most respondents (71%) were able to suggest a personal response that they would make to help a workmate, less than half (47%) were inclined to suggest formal solutions to tackle the problem.
The top three likely reactions from employers were:
- to offer informal support or friendship (34%)
- suggesting counselling or where to find it (23%)
- paid time off work (20%).
When asked how they would know an employee was suffering from stress, about half (53%) said that they would probably detect a problem by just chatting to an employee. However, about a third (33%) thought they would only hear about it when a problem on the job occurred.
The HSE stress management standards describe stress as an adverse reaction to excessive pressure. While pressure can create a “buzz” and be a motivating factor, stress can lead to depression, anxiety and an increased risk of suicide.
CITB head of environment and health & safety Kevin Fear said: “While it’s good news that many construction employers recognise stress in the workplace, we need to do more to support individual colleagues. Mental health has been a taboo subject that’s been brushed under the carpet for far too long.
“We need to put an end to the culture of ‘silently coping’, which can be damaging to both worker health and business performance. Encouragingly, some contractors are starting to develop policies and great initiatives to promote good mental health and wellbeing. We’d like to see the organisations that are making good inroads in this area share their experiences widely so that others across the industry can learn from them. We want others to pick this mantle, and Mental Health Awareness Week is a great time to start.”
HSE’s information on how to support employees is at www.hse.gov.uk/stress/standards/
Stress management tools and templates are at www.hse.gov.uk/stress/standards/downloads.htm