After a rough year of 2020, we are at the transformative year of 2022 that is raising its voice for concerns that weren’t talked about before. One of the first and foremost subject is that of mental health, which has been a hidden trigger behind major issues of today—both professional and other. This World Mental Health day, let’s take a step further and talk about the well-being of the people in an industry as fast-paced and tedious as Construction.
“The biggest danger in construction work is poor mental health” —EHStoday new report
“83% of construction workers have struggled with mental health issues” —CIRP research
“Over 2/3rd of construction workers in UK believe that there is a stigma around mental health that stops them from talking about it” —Mates in Mind & IES survey
It is high time that we talk about the importance of mental health and make way for the betterment of the industry across all areas of growth. Read ahead and explore the key notes of the topic.
Mental health as a necessity for life
The topic of mental health is not taboo—nor it is a sign of weakness. It holds the potential for the strength of a workforce that needs to be addressed, to create an inclusive workplace, much like every other industry. With the nature of work that involves long-term contracts, extensive shifts and tight deadlines, the people in construction are in greater need of better mental health. The frequent calls for travel and relocation only make it harder for them to seek the support of family, pushing them into isolation and distress.
Transient labour, in particular, faces the rough effects of these makeshift work setups, affecting not only the well-being of the self but also the family. Children of transient labour are often left with poor livelihood conditions, lacking the basic needs of food and shelter when not attended. In such cases, the construction companies hold the responsibility in improving these conditions, with various policies and laws focused on health, education and other needs of the labourforce—along with their families.
While company policies differ across organisations, addressing the specific needs of their workforce, labour laws create an umbrella of benefits to the labour population as a whole. These laws are exercised at both the national level (as Indian Labour Law) and the state level (as Welfare Schemes) to give a better look at the regional patterns of work and livelihood.
Various state governments like the Government of Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and more have laid out schemes for:
- Nutrition—Annapurna Yojna, BOCWWB, Gujarat
- Final rites—Antyeshthi Aid Scheme, BOCWWB, Gujarat
- Marriage assistance/ Kanyadan—State Labour Policy, Labour Department, Haryana
- Early education and Scholarships—Labour Welfare Schemes, Tamilnadu Labour Welfare Board
These policies facilitate a better way of life for the labourforce whilst encouraging them to trust their occupation and contribute further.
Mental health as an impetus for proficiency
Mental well-being acts in multiple directions. It focuses on the betterment of the individual, thereby helping them achieve a greater focus on work. Better working conditions stimulate the workforce to achieve:
- Faster work completion—due to complete dedication to work
- Better concentration—due to lesser emotional setbacks
- Lesser occurrences of defects—due to higher attention to detail
- Lesser conflicts on site—due to a positive state of mind
In addition to the changes in the individual task performance, a good mental health also promotes team achievements, with better communication and more opportunities for knowledge sharing. These fruitful results can be achieved by basic initiatives like raising the bar for minimum wages, providing clarity in employment terms, accident insurance policies and more that have been troubling the industry for a long time.
Furthermore, labour law enforcement in crucial areas of work such as safety etc. ensures reliability in the teams and makes way for a seamless flow of work overall. Such law enforcement not only improves the confidence of the teams, but also creates a new scope for conducting important activities such as training programmes etc. that upgrade the current work practices.
Mental health as an opportunity for growth
A positive work environment has the power to change the present and lay a path for the future. Such an environment is powered by bringing changes that help the workforce progress into the future and seek its opportunities for growth.
A good mental health prepares the workforce to explore new growth opportunities in the field such as skill development programmes, safety workshops and more that improve their performance whilst giving them access to newer roles, promotions etc. The mental stability also encourages them to practice leadership qualities, acquire decision-making tendencies and more that take them a step forward in their career. This applies for both on-site labours and off-site management who form the complete work network in any construction project.
Off-site workforce consisting of professionals such as engineers, project managers etc. have an important role in providing these opportunities for growth—for both self and the rest of the workforce. They can help the team evolve through the rising challenges of the industry by constantly revisiting the code of practices, upgrading the protocols, creating new benchmarks and holding both side of the workforce together—while aligning them towards a common goal.
Quality of life vs. quality of work
The life and work of the people in construction fall in the contrast, making work-life balance a hard reality for a majority of them. The elaborate methods of work further make mental health an ambiguous concept for them, making it harder to monitor and measure the effects of the changes made to address it. In such an alarming state of the industry, the digital revolution has projected a new angle into construction work. The employment of digital tools has simplified work and enabled remote processes that hold a number of benefits including:
- Online approvals that eliminate the need for frequent trips to the site—reducing exhaustion
- Paperless works that help in easy identification of key documents—reducing anxiety
- Contactless monitoring that eases the tracking of tasks—reducing conflicts
- Transparent charts that give better insights into the team’s performance—increasing motivation
- End-to-end system that ensures a better project quality on the whole—boosting team spirit
Such digital systems make the workforce aware of the work done and help them take steps towards self-improvement, giving them a better professional stance. Quality software such as digiQC have a successful record of bringing these changes to effect, for several contractors, project owners and others in the recent past.
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Happy World Mental Health day!