Sector - Education & Training

1 in 5 Construction Workers Suffers in Silence

According to new findings from a nationwide survey, 21% of those who work within the construction industry have experienced bullying in the last year.

Half of these employees have also suffered from anxiety or stress as a result, with only 6% saying they had received sufficient mental health support from management or their HR department.

The new findings come as mental health concerns within the construction industry reach an all-time high, with more than half of workers within the industry reporting mental health issues in the last year.

Despite this, the industry has continued its efforts to tackle the rising mental health crisis, as well as promoting awareness of problems, with one in three workers reporting suffering from chronic stress, anxiety or depression. This data was collected by Herts Tools, who surveyed employees from 88 construction companies across the UK.

With the construction and trades industries still leaning towards ‘manning up’ or ‘cracking on’ as solutions to mental health issues, almost one in ten workers said bullying was just labelled as ‘banter’. This problem was worse for those starting out in the industry, with half of 21-24-year-olds experiencing bullying. Non-UK citizens are almost twice as likely to be bullied at work, with 31% of non-UK passport holders falling victim, as opposed to 18% of UK citizens.

Workers surveyed also noted that the industry could improve its approach to confidentiality, with 56% of bullied employees wanting more privacy on issues raised. Even those who hadn’t personally been subject to bullying felt more could be done to improve confidentiality around sensitive, personal issues (36%).

Stefano Lobban, Director at Herts Tools, said: “The UK construction industry is still experiencing a mental health crisis: workers continue to demonstrate a ‘suck it up and deal with it’ approach to poor mental health.

“The findings from our survey highlight that workplaces could be doing more. They could encourage workers suffering to come forward and share their experiences of poor mental health issues and/or bullying by having more confidentiality measures in place. Companies could look at investing in workplace surveys, private spaces and more wellbeing measures, to give workers the opportunity to share any personal issues in a safe and supportive environment.

“We just hope that companies take these new figures as a warning and address their own workplace culture so that these difficult and sensitive issues can be discussed.”

Kasia Richter, Founder at Wellbeing Strategist, said: “Harmless joking is when it is enjoyed by both parties. Banter can be a way of creating bonds by sharing experiences and exchanging thoughts and feelings in a way that is mutually accepted. Bullying starts when boundaries of respect are crossed and certain behaviour is harmful, causing negative feelings such as emotional pain, sorrow, guilt or shame.

“To tackle any mental health issue, we need to know what exactly we are dealing with. Therefore the first step should be learning and discovering what the specific issues are. Communicating with employees is crucial to this. Creating a culture of openness and support is necessary in order for the employees to start sharing.

“In addition, access to confidential information should be controlled and people who are handling confidential information should be properly selected, trained and supported/supervised. Company culture should include a code of ethics, which should be made clear from the start.”

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