64 per cent of employees in the construction industry are looking for better physical and mental wellbeing support in the workplace

With a rise in workplace-related stress, illnesses and mental health issues, almost a third (32 per cent) of working adults in the construction industry believe that businesses are not doing enough to support the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees, according to a new study released today.

Current treatments such as health check-ups and, cognitive behavioural therapy and treatment are provided by the NHS, through National Insurance contributions, but 65 per cent of those surveyed by Westfield Health stated that the NHS does not have the budget to provide wellbeing services like these.

So is National Insurance becoming unfit for purpose? Employees in the construction industry don’t seem to know, with almost half (42 per cent) of employees saying they do not know how much National Insurance they pay and 36 per cent saying they do not know how much of the contribution goes where, be it the NHS, social security or their state pension.

With an ageing workforce and more hours spent working than ever, should the NHS’s frontline resources continue to be used for wellbeing services? The research found that more than half (52 per cent) of workers in construction would like to see the Government do more to promote their physical and mental wellbeing. And over a third (35 per cent) believe their employer is specifically not doing enough to help employees deal with work-related stress, anxiety and other mental health issues.

Similar to the recent rollout of the workplace pension opt-out, could a government-backed auto-enrolment scheme for wellbeing programmes – funded by employers and by a portion of employees’ National Insurance contributions – be one of the solutions to address the NHS’s long-term financial needs?

Certainly the appetite is there in the construction industry with employees particularly prone to musculoskeletal disorders, coping with deadlines, pressure and sleep deprivation amongst other issues. As a result, 64 per cent of employees stated they’d use wellbeing services if their employer provided them.

The top things they would like to be offered are:

  1. Exercise (42 per cent)
  2. Health check-ups (35 per cent)
  3. Dental work (34 per cent)

David Capper, Commercial Director of Westfield Health, said:

“The total number of UK working days lost to stress, anxiety and depression resulting from long working hours is 12.5million days. Therefore, it makes sense for employers to relieve some of the pressure through wellbeing initiatives. Not only would they be supporting our economy, they’ll make huge cost savings by looking after their staff’s health, with presenteeism now costing businesses up to three times more than absenteeism**.

“From sleep to nutrition and mental health to physical fitness, there are so many elements that contribute to your overall wellness, happiness and healthiness. In particular, mental health conditions are a major issue in the construction industry, leaving workers there in body, but not in mind. When workers’ minds aren’t completely on the job it can potentially lead to costly mistakes and accidents.

“As business leaders, we need to create a culture where our people’s health and wellbeing is prioritised to drive confidence, capability, inspiration and ultimately prosperity.”

Lisa Pogson, Director at Airmaster Air Conditioning, which is passionate about wellbeing in the workplace, said:

“At Airmaster, we believe that taking some responsibility for our employees’ wellbeing is really important. They are our greatest asset, but to do their best work they need to be well in mind, body and spirit.

“We actively support staff having personal wellness sessions and we encourage use of counselling and doctor advice lines if needed, along with debt support and pretty much any other issues they have with an external confidential contact. We hope that all these initiatives go a little way to helping them see that we are committed to their health and wellbeing and then training and support for their work is there too.”