Stress Awareness Month – Managing Stress within the Construction Industry

stress

Feeling stressed? You’re not alone! April 2021 is Stress Awareness Month. Stress Awareness Month has been held every April, since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and ways to manage modern stress. 

According to the 2020 Health and Safety Executive report, Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain account for 51% of all work-related ill health cases. In the UK alone, there were over 828,000 workers suffering from work related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) in 2019/20.

Stress can cause not only mental issues such as anxiety and depression, but can also lead to cause physical  problems such as heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive issues.

In 2019 the CITB reported that the construction industry was already one of the most stressful sectors to work in. This National Stress Awareness month we are taking a look into what can we do to raise awareness of stress and why is the construction industry particularly affected?

Six Factors of Stress:

Evidence shows that there are six key factors that contribute to the majority of stress within the workplace:

  1. Demands: a heavy workload, work patterns and the work environment.
  2. Control: how much say the person has in the way they do their work.
  3. Support: lack of encouragement, sponsorship and resources available to employees.
  4. Relationships: conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour.
  5. Role: whether people understand their role within the organisation.
  6. Change: how change (large or small) is managed and communicated.

For those of us within the construction industry, working on sites can mean working away from family for weeks at a time and working outside the standard 9 to 5 daily routine. Combined with a lack of job continuity this can all contribute to stress. When construction contracts have an expiration date, it’s not always a given that there will be a new contract to take its place, uncertainty can put an immeasurable amount of stress on a person.

For working parents, site-based jobs can also present some additional challenges that perhaps office-based roles do not. A construction site is vastly different to an office in terms of operation and work carried out and some struggle to find a balance between the working and familial life. However, stress is a natural part of human existence, thus nobody is immune to it. 

Here are some measures that to help relieve stress:

Everyone needs to vent now and then, and just having a peer to talk to can reduce stress. Speaking to a trusted colleague you may find that they are also having the same issues and can allay fears. The main problem however is encouraging men to open up. The construction industry is stereotypically within a male dominated work sphere, where the ‘tough guy’ attitude places added stress on men to just “man up”.

Ensuring that you are promoting a positive working environment will help alleviate any unnecessary stress on employees. Inflexibility in the workplace carries additional stress, struggling to balance work with other familial duties can place an enormous amount of pressure on an individual. Flexibility comes in all shapes and sizes, adapting a more flexible working environment can be a great stress reliever. Flexibility not only demonstrates trust in your team but also encourages your employees that they have a choice. This will also encourage higher productivity levels.

Providing encouragement and regular praise also alleviate any support issues, especially for newly trained employees, that can place stress within the workplace. Allowing for good communication, occasional check ins and training programmes, ensures that your employees are understanding the tasks at hand, alleviating the anxiety and uncertainty of any tasks.

Stress is the body’s natural response to pressure, producing physical and emotional responses. Many of us often do not realise we are under stress until it has started to become too much and consumes us. If you’re feeling stressed there are many charities such as Mates in Mind and The Construction Industry Helpline, who recognise the unique challenges presented by the construction industry and are available to any who need to talk.

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