With the trade industry being one of the busiest workforces around, taking the time to manage both personal and team mental health may occasionally be put on the back burner. It’s well known that mental health in the workplace needs to be given attention in every industry, but with high rates of suicide in the construction industry, it’s never been more important to put in systems to manage stress and offer support on and off the job site.
This blog provides a little bit of insight into why good mental health is important on a job site and what you can do to help manage stress. We’ve also got some great tips for trade business owners to help with identifying how they can support their crew.
Our mental health affects every part of our lives, sometimes without us even realising it.
Here are some reasons why it’s important to take care of that when working on a job site:
Having a clear mind helps with concentration and focus when working as you can stay present with what you are doing. This is a really important part of working safely on-site and being able to complete day-to-day site tasks.
Having good mental health makes it easier to manage your emotions which directly affects the relationships you have in the workplace. You are less likely to become angered easily or become overwhelmed and upset at the people around you.
Being productive is especially important when working on a job site as there is more often than not a timeline to stick to. Being mentally healthy will help you to manage personal distractions and key your eye on the end goal.
One of the great things about being mentally healthy is that it aids in your ability to sleep well, relax and recover when you are not working which is a necessity for anyone in a physical job.
Feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed isn’t the norm, so it’s vital to understand what can cause these feelings, and what tools are available to help you manage or recover, as well as where you can get help if you’re feeling these feelings.
Sometimes your mental health can be negatively affected before you have even noticed there is a problem.
Here are some examples to help you with recognizing what scenarios might affect you in a negative way on a job site:
Strained relationships within the workplace
Even though you may be working with your hands as a tradie, there are still relationships that need to be managed on a job site with managers, colleagues, and clients.
If you are not getting along with someone, experiencing forms of bullying or disrespect, this can cause you to feel pretty down and isolated. It’s important to address issues immediately and keep your relationships healthy.
An unrealistic workload
Commonly those working in a trade often have a large workload as the services being provided are needed by so many people. Although this is a great thing for a business, it can cause people a lot of anxiety and stress if there is too much work for one person.
Not being able to perform jobs to the standard you want, or in some cases not being able to do them at all can be stressful, especially if you can’t afford to be off work. Ongoing pain can also be a huge contributor to feelings of depression if a person is unable to manage it appropriately.
Isolated working conditions
Whether you work alone all the time or just occasionally, it can be lonely and upsetting to not have anyone to talk to. When stress builds up, having someone else to vent to can really help, and having to keep it in may make matters worse.
Financial or business stresses
Business owners or tradies responsible for sticking to a quoted timeline or budget can feel an immense amount of pressure which can lead to feelings of anxiety. Sleepless nights and constant worry can be detrimental to your mental health, especially if there is no end in sight.
Although there are plenty of resources out there for anyone struggling with their mental health, there are just as many practices you can put in place before you have any issues so that you can give yourself the best chance of staying mentally healthy.
Here are some things you can do to assist with good mental health:
Our minds and bodies need rest and anyone who isn’t getting enough is likely to burn out eventually. People relax in different ways, whether it’s sitting down to eat, listening to some music, or getting some fresh air. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you carve out time every day for a break.
Leaving concerns too long can sometimes make the issue harder to address and can put unnecessary stress on you for too long. It’s important to speak with your manager or whoever is in charge on-site immediately if you are worried about something.
When you are sleeping your body is repairing itself and recovering, so if you aren’t sleeping there is a good chance you will not be functioning at 100%. If you are having trouble sleeping, you should consider talking to your doctor.
In some cases, business owners might not know they don’t have enough people to do the work they have committed to unless you say something. This can be especially common if trade businesses are growing. If you keep quiet about an overpacked workload, it doesn’t allow anyone to fix the issue, so speak up.
There can be a huge amount of pressure to stay working or even rush back to work immediately when you have been sick or injured. This can slow recovery, or in some cases aggravate the issue further which doesn’t help anyone. Make sure to see a medical professional and get their advice on what is best.
Prevention is always the best approach, so make sure to slow down and check-in with yourself regularly. Ask yourself if you are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed, that way you can catch any potential issues before they progress.
Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly affect so many parts of our wellbeing from sleep to self-esteem. If you are fuelling your body with the right foods and taking care of your body, you are much more likely to be in good form for work.
Bottling things up inside may feel like a good coping mechanism however the long term effects of doing this can be very harmful to your mental health. Doing something as simple as talking to friends, family or mental health services about your day or things that are stressing you out can help to get things off your chest and work through issues.
Although everyone needs to prioritise their own mental health, there are many ways business owners can help with supporting their crew to be mentally healthy:
Schedule regular check-ins with all team members
Not everyone will feel comfortable to speak up about their mental health so it’s important that business owners support the conversations to happen in a safe space and encourage their employees to talk about how they are feeling. Try to hold check-ins do this in a private space away from others regularly.
Encourage your team to speak with you privately about concerns anytime
It’s important that employees are able to speak with you when they need to, rather than having to wait for you to be available around work. Let your team know how to get hold of you, and if you are not available, consider supplying confidential external counselling services for your team.
Introduce some positive initiatives
Feeling appreciated and happy in a workplace is key for good mental health. Showing a small gesture of appreciation to your crew can lift morale up and helps to create a great environment for the team. This might be something like shouting everyone coffee or organising a team event.
Give your team positive feedback
It can be really taxing on employees to only be receiving negative feedback, as it can lead to them feeling unappreciated or not respected. Try to be constructive with what you are saying, and don’t forget to tell them when they are doing a good job.
Respect the needs of your team
It can be easy to get caught up in the business side of things, but it’s important to remember your team have their own lives and things going on personally. If you are understanding and supportive when they need it, you are more likely to have their loyalty.
Look for the signs
If you spot that there might be an issue with an employee, don’t wait to be told, ask them the question. Mental health issues can show in many different ways, so it’s important that you know your employees personally so that you can spot when their behaviour changes. It can look different for men and women, but signs can include (list)
Consider offering courses that focus on mental health
If you aren’t comfortable with how to approach mental health in the workplace, there are courses you and your employees can do to help start the conversation and approach the subject together.
Hirepool have been partnering with tradies for over 60 years and care deeply about making the construction industry a safer place for all who work in it. Check out our other resources for trade businesses, read customer stories or get in touch to hire all gear you need to get your trade job done smarter. Book gear easily online now or call into your local Hirepool branch to chat about if a trade account is right for your business.