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August 9, 2023

Providing total well-being support could be the difference-maker in your construction company

John Bestman, Courtney Patt, Erika Wieczorek

When we talk about health and safety in the construction industry, the focus is often on physical safety. However, there is another important aspect to consider: the well-being of workers. Well-being encompasses various dimensions, including mental, social, financial, and physical health. All these aspects are interconnected, and they affect each other in many, sometimes profound, ways. If an employee is struggling financially, they may spend less time out socially. This can influence physical and/or mental health. All these dimensions play off one another—comprising your workers’ total well-being. 

This reinforces the value of integrating wellness into your safety programs. By enhancing your culture of health you can work toward optimizing your organization’s safety initiatives.

The connection between well-being and health

Health is not limited to physical well-being alone. It also includes mental and emotional wellness, financial stability, and social connections. When any of these dimensions are compromised, it can have an impact on an individual's overall well-being. This impact can be deeply felt, as construction is the industry with the second-highest rate of suicide.  

What makes the construction industry unique is how multiple risk factors align. These include the transient nature of work, a culture that often deters employees from seeking help, and stressful, often dangerous work that can lead to chronic injuries. Mental health issues also exacerbate this issue. 

“Research shows that up to 90% of people who die by suicide have a mental health condition,” the Center for Workplace Mental Health explains. “Depression is the most common, however other conditions may impact suicide rates including substance use disorders—most commonly alcohol misuse, anxiety, and trauma.”

While suicide and silent suffering are tragic outcomes for any person, they often come about from a convergence of well-being factors. Imagine a construction worker who is struggling financially. They might have to work longer hours or take on extra jobs to make ends meet, which can lead to physical exhaustion. Financial stress can also affect their mental health, causing anxiety and worry. In turn, these challenges may result in social isolation, as they may not have the means or time to engage in social activities with friends or loved ones. Ultimately, this interconnectedness between well-being dimensions affects the worker's overall health and happiness.

Returning to the Center for Workplace Mental Health study, it’s clear that leadership in the construction industry knows this is a critical issue to address. Seventy-seven percent of respondents who are in top leadership positions believe prioritizing mental health is crucial.

“Leaders play a key role in fostering and building a caring culture that addresses worker well-being, mental health awareness, and suicide prevention in construction,” the study explains. “Active and continuous leadership engagement is essential in breaking down barriers in addressing mental health and worker well-being.”

Integrating well-being into safety programs

Recognizing the impact of well-being on workers, the importance of construction companies integrating wellness initiatives into their safety programs becomes clearer. By promoting a culture of health, organizations can optimize their safety initiatives and support their employees. Instead of focusing solely on keeping workers safe on the job, consider also providing and promoting resources to keep them well at work and at home. There are several ways to enhance the integration of wellness into safety programs.

  1. Offer and de-stigmatize mental health support. Provide access to resources and programs that promote mental well-being, such as counseling services, stress management workshops, and awareness campaigns to reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues.
  2. Provide helpful financial education. Offer financial literacy programs or workshops to help workers manage their finances effectively. This can reduce financial stress and improve their overall well-being.
  3. Drive social engagement. Encourage social activities and team-building exercises within the workplace. Foster an inclusive and supportive environment that promotes social connections and reduces feelings of isolation.
  4. Promote wellness-focused physical health. Implement initiatives that encourage physical activity, such as wellness challenges, onsite exercise facilities, or subsidized gym memberships. Promote healthy habits and provide information on nutrition and exercise.

Fortunately, Marsh McLennan Agency can help you with formulating these initiatives. By partnering with us, you get access to proprietary solutions and thoughtful specialists who can help craft a program that works for you and your organization. 

If you’re unsure where to start, addressing financial wellness can be a great choice. According to a study from Morgan Stanley, 75% of employees across various industries believe that financial well-being support should be a part of a company’s benefits offering. Employers more than agree as well, as 92% said they were moderately or very likely to create or focus on financial well-being.

With Marsh McLennan Agency, you receive access to our host of well-being playbooks and consultants who can help you create a health and well-being strategy for your organization. Beyond that, we offer comprehensive retirement services that allow you to offer competitive plans that can help attract and retain top talent. Rounding that out, our iNGAGED app helps you effectively communicate this and all of your potential well-being initiatives to your employees.

Ultimately, the construction industry can evolve in how it prioritizes the well-being of its workers, understanding that physical safety alone is part of a larger whole. By integrating wellness initiatives into safety programs, organizations can create a supportive environment that addresses mental, social, financial, and physical health. This approach to well-being can lead to optimized safety efforts, enhanced job satisfaction, while promoting a happier and healthier workforce.  

To dive deeper into this topic, read our report on shifting workplace expectations and how you can begin to address them. Reach out to an MMA colleague today to learn more.