40% of construction worker absence due to poor mental health

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mental wellbeing, mental health

Construction and engineering workers are struggling with poor mental wellbeing, with more than a third taking time off due to poor mental health, according to Benenden Health

40% of employees in the construction and engineering sector took time off work due to poor mental health in 2019, compared to 35% across all sectors, with workers absent for between two and five days on average.

The research, which asked employees to consider the impact of their mental health throughout their working life, rather than solely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It revealed that almost half (45%) of workers in construction and engineering who took time off due to poor mental wellbeing said they were honest about the reason for their absence, with a quarter (27%) of employees saying they instead cited a physical issue and as many as 30% reported taking annual leave to avoid any questions or embarrassment.

The views of employers in the construction and engineering sector were also sought, and they agreed there is a stigma around discussing mental wellbeing at work, with seven in ten (73%) acknowledging this, whilst 35% of employers said they don’t know how to identify if an employee is struggling with their mental wellbeing and only 77% said they would be comfortable talking to them about it.

The main reasons for employees’ reticence to discuss their mental wellbeing in the construction and engineering workplace included being worried that people would treat them differently (21%) and others thinking they cannot do their job properly (32%), whilst a fifth (21%) said it was not the done thing in the industry.

Necessary internal and external support

Bob Andrews, CEO at Benenden Health, said: “It comes as no great surprise to see that poor mental wellbeing is having such a significant impact on employees and businesses in the construction and engineering sector, even before the pandemic hit.

“There continues to be a stigma around discussing our mental wellbeing and this is often more prevalent in the workplace than anywhere else.

“Unfortunately, businesses are too often unable to identify wellbeing issues, employees still feel like they can’t discuss them and there remains a lack of tangible support, all of which contribute to lost time and productivity for businesses as well as unaddressed poor employee wellbeing.

“It isn’t just the construction and engineering sector which is struggling with this issue, and the only way to tackle this is for businesses to prove to their employees that they genuinely care about their wellbeing, foster a culture of openness and provide the necessary internal and external support.

“By doing this, employers will be rewarded with fewer lost hours, a happier and more productive workforce and a workplace that is attractive to both current and prospective employees.”

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