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What is Employee(Workforce) Wellbeing and Why Does it Matter?

The construction industry is a significant employer of workers in most countries around the world. In America, construction workers account for approximately 2.9% of the entire US workforce; broadly similar proportions can be found in other developed countries. In addition, the construction industry is a key contributor to the overall GDP of a nation. In America, it accounts for almost 5% of the country’s total GDP, equating to over $1.3 trillion.

This form of industry is a vital and major part of any country’s economy. If you are the owner of a construction firm, you will be acutely aware that your staff is one of the most vital components in the success of your business. Put simply, your workforce will be responsible for delivering the projects on time, to quality, and in line with budget projections. Without a highly skilled and motivated team of contractors working for your company, it will struggle to remain profitable and efficient in an increasingly competitive environment.

employee-wellbeing-an-emerging
Fig. employee-wellbeing-an-emerging

One key way to ensure that your workforce is highly motivated and works to their full potential is by making the wellbeing of your workforce an absolute priority. Workers who feel valued are more likely to remain with the firm, which will help keep recruitment costs low while minimizing employee churn. In this article, some of the key ways in which you can look after the wellbeing of your construction industry workforce will be explored in detail.

Offer a range of employment benefits

Every employee will be motivated by the idea of working for a firm offering diverse employment benefits. These benefits can play a key role in making staff members feel valued by the organization and may help with staff retention and morale in the workforce. Examples of employee benefits include providing a comprehensive health insurance plan (ideally including the worker and their families) that offers a range of medical services, dental care, and access to optician services.

Ideally, this form of healthcare plan should also include access to mental health services for the staff member and their family. It should be recognized that approximately 21% of the American population will experience a mental health problem each year. Having access to suitable mental health services can be a key way to recover from these issues and should be considered a valuable part of any health insurance plan.

In addition, comprehensive employee benefits packages can also contain other services that improve the wellbeing of the construction workforce. For example, subsidized gym membership can be a fantastic incentive for staff members who wish to keep in shape, and promoting such forms of exercise will help to ensure that your contractors stay fit and healthy. This can also help to reduce staff sickness levels in your firm. To sum up, a comprehensive range of employee benefits can help improve your workforce’s wellbeing and plays a key role in retaining and motivating your staff.

Encourage smoking cessation

It is well recognized that smoking tobacco is a dangerous practice that can reduce a person’s level of health and put them at an increased risk of developing cancer and other serious health problems. In fact, 9 out of 10 lung cancer deaths are thought to be directly caused by smoking. However, the construction industry has the highest proportion of smokers in its workforce, with 34.3% of all construction staff using some form of tobacco product.

The construction industry can be a stressful sector of work, with budgets and strict timescales needing to be adhered to, along with the nature of the work, which often requires a significant amount of physical exertion. Put simply, it is little surprise that many construction workers choose to smoke, even if they are fully aware of the health implications of doing so.

Construction firm managers, leaders, and owners can play a key role in encouraging their workforce to quit smoking and benefit from improved health. They can consider offering free access to nicotine replacement products as part of their employee benefits package and can give the workforce information on how to book an appointment with a smoking cessation specialist.

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Book quality accommodation

Many construction firms will require their contractors to work on regional or even national projects, often without a large amount of notice. These jobs can be for a period of days or may stretch to several weeks at a new location. Workers will therefore need to have suitable accommodation booked for them so that they can start the day with a minimum of commuting time.

Ideally, accommodation needs to be near the location and of suitably high quality to ensure that the workforce has all the amenities they need and a comfortable room to sleep in after a hard day’s work. Using a dedicated company that routinely books accommodation for construction workers and other mobile staff makes sense. Contractor accommodation from comfyworkers.com and other such sites represent a great choice as these organizations have extensive experience and knowledge of securing suitable accommodation for contractors and other staff.

These companies will be able to search through their lists of premises across the country to find accommodation that is close to the construction site and to a pre-determined budget. Often, using these specialist services is a more cost-effective and efficient way to secure accommodation for your staff as the manager will be given a list of premises that meet the criteria and the budget.

This can save managers and senior planning staff time and effort when planning works outside their local area. In addition, having the assurance that the accommodation is to a suitable standard will ensure that the workforce are comfortable when working outside local boundaries.

Safety equipment and training

It is of paramount importance to recognize the value of high-quality safety equipment in any construction operation. All staff members will need access to essential equipment such as hard hats, steel toe-capped boots, and reflective clothing. These basic items will keep the workforce safe when working on any site and can play a key role in reducing the number of accidents at work.

It is estimated that one in ten construction workers are injured in the course of their duties in any given year. This statistic makes construction work one of the most hazardous occupations across all sectors of industry and reinforces the need for suitable safety wear and equipment. In addition, all construction firms should have job-specific safety training programs for all their staff. This will go beyond the simple manual handling and health and safety training that is provided to most workers in other industries.

It should include comprehensive information on the dangers that all staff face when on building sites and the need to undertake dynamic risk assessments when starting a new task. This is especially important when working from a height or in a restricted or potentially dangerous environment. Mandatory safety training should be completed before any new staff member or contractor starts work with the firm.

Refresher training should ideally take place on an annual basis. In addition, it is good practice to offer staff basic first aid training so that they can assist others should an accident occur. These measures demonstrate the company’s commitment to the safety and welfare of their workforce and will ensure that safe working practices take place on every job and at every site.

 Risk management reporting systems

In addition to safety equipment and comprehensive training packages, every construction firm needs to cultivate a working culture that learns from accidents, near misses or adverse incidents to minimize the likelihood of a reoccurrence. Building a safe working culture that puts employee welfare in the center of all operations can be aided by putting risk management reporting systems in place. In its most basic form, this could include having an “adverse incident hotline” where incident reports can be made over the telephone.

A verbal message can be left on an answerphone that is recorded by office staff. This is an ideal method for construction staff as it allows them to make a quick call while on site to immediately report what has occurred. These reports can then be entered into a risk management database or a related health and safety software platform.

Over time, as a volume of reports has been recorded, the firm can begin to create statistics and reports with the information. This will allow them to spot any patterns in industrial accidents, near misses, or adverse incidents with a view to putting remedial measures in place to reduce the risk of reoccurrence. In short, a robust system for incident reporting can help any construction firm improve its safety record and put worker safety at the forefront of everything they do.

Staff awards

Many industries and sectors of business hold annual staff awards for their workforce. These ceremonies reward workers with excellent working skills and a commitment to high-quality output. The construction industry is no different, and it can be incredibly rewarding for construction staff to gain formal recognition for their hard work and dedication.

Staff awards ceremonies show the workforce that their actions are valued by the owners and senior leadership in the firm and can be a key way to motivate, retain, and encourage staff to work to the highest possible standards. Ideally, a staff awards ceremony should include a range of different award categories (such as a new starter of the year, a mentorship award, and outstanding commitment to staff safety). Such awards play a key role in keeping standards high on every site and encouraging staff to perform in every task to the best of their abilities.

Heathier on-site food options

On many larger construction sites, hot meals may be available to the workforce. Commonly, 3rd party vendors are invited to visit the site at lunch or break times so that staff members can enjoy a freshly cooked meal. However, the choice of food is often limited and may consist of fried foods such as burgers and other less healthy meal options.

If you have vendors who visit the site, ask if they can prepare more healthy meal options that are lower in saturated fats, such as jacket potatoes with reduced-fat toppings. Many vendors are happy to include healthier and more nutritious menu choices that are still likely to be popular with the workforce. This small change can have a significant positive impact on worker health over the course of their careers and may help staff to avoid obesity and other problems that are caused by a poor diet.

To sum up

The construction industry can improve worker wellbeing in a wide range of ways. Offering a comprehensive employee benefits package can be extremely effective, along with encouraging the workforce to quit smoking if they use tobacco products.

Staff should have access to safety equipment on-site and must receive suitable health and safety training. A safety culture can be further embedded in the organization by using reporting systems for accidents and near misses.

Staff members should expect to receive high-quality and comfortable accommodation when they are working outside their local area. In addition, staff award ceremonies can demonstrate the value that the employer place on its workforce. Finally, offering staff a range of healthy and nutritious meal options when on-site can improve the long-term health of the workers.

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