Aggregate Industries is urging construction companies to focus on mental health in the workplace, which comes after the success its own ‘Healthy You’ initiative has had on its workforce.
This is to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place from 14 to 20 May.
Mental health is still a taboo area that is often overlooked for many in the workplace, especially in an industry such as construction, where it can be the case that workers rarely talk about how they feel.
However, with increasing financial pressure on pension funds and early retirements practically a thing of the past for the vast majority of people, companies must ensure employees can stay ‘fitter for longer’.
This is in the best entries of all parties, as absenteeism costs companies £8 billion a year, with people working whilst sick can lead to productivity loss, costing up to £26 billion every year.
These factors led to Aggregate launching ‘Healthy You’ in 2014, an initiative to create a greater connection with employees and help educate them on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, which featured awareness campaigns and talks on mindfulness.
Employees can also elect to take part in a mental health awareness course, run in partnership with Mental Health First Aid England.
The three hour intensive programme observes how mental health is defined and considers how individuals can look after their own mental health and wellbeing, also aiming to give employees the knowledge to offer help to colleagues and to better empathise with people’s experiences.
Aggregate has also given managers throughout the business training and information to help them notice the symptoms of depression and stress and provide support in these assistances.
The commitment to focus on mental health has garnered rewards for the company, as it has seen a decrease every year in the number of absences related to mental health issues.
For example, last year, the number of different occasions of absence related to mental health issues in Aggregate Industries had dropped by 17%, compared to the year previous; this meant a reduction in the number of working days lost, (12% on the year previous.)
Stephanie Kendrick, HR Business Partner and ‘Healthy You’ Lead at Aggregate Industries, said more companies should follow their lead and place focus on the health of the workforce, which is demonstrated by the worrying industry statistics.
Anna Cantwell, Social Value & Sustainable Procurement Manager at Aggregate, and Healthy You Champion, added that when staff are encouraged to talk openly with colleagues, they realise how many people either suffer from issues themselves or know someone who does.
“By making mental health and wellbeing a priority in the workplace we are not only safeguarding the future of our employees, but also protecting the business,” Anna said.
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