Construction work is hard. Between long, irregular hours, job insecurity, challenging work environments with extremes in temperature and exposure to the elements, wear and tear on the body, and the threat of injuries, it’s no wonder that construction workers are more at risk of burnout than any other field.
Ways to combat burnout
As the average age of construction workers continues to rise, and the interest in pursuing construction careers by young people continues to fall, it’s never been more important to address worker mental health and lessen the likelihood of burnout. For contractors looking for ways to keep their workers burnout-free and on the job, we have a few ideas.
- Lighten the load. As the saying goes, many hands make light work. If your projects are perpetually understaffed, the workers left on the job will be overworked, overstressed, and ready to bolt at the first opportunity. The labor shortage is here to stay, at least for the time being, so companies must be constantly looking to hire. Recruitment should be an ongoing corporate strategy instead of a reactionary scramble, so a pool of new talent will be available as needed, reducing the amount of time an inadequate number of workers are left to do the job of many.
- Make use of mentors. Mentorship can help the construction industry in multiple ways. In addition to serving as a powerful recruitment tool for attracting young people to construction, mentors can also be instrumental in addressing mental health concerns among workers. Mentoring through both peer-to-peer support and chaplaincy models can promote mental health as well as build skills and hone leadership development. Even better, the mental health benefits are not only for the mentee: mentors have been shown to have lower levels of anxiety as well as increased perception of job meaningfulness.
- Go high tech. Technology that saves time and reduces errors while reducing risks and increasing safety can go a long way towards lessening worker stress. When companies use technology solutions to solve for problems such as recordkeeping, inspections, and reporting, workers can devote less of their time to paperwork and more towards doing the actual work they were hired to perform. Tools, such as GIS mapping to ensure workers are in the right place and digital checklists to avoid missing steps in processes, help give workers confidence on the job. Even better, the ability to connect in real-time with supervisors to share data from the field provides instant feedback and validation that all is well.
In conclusion, perhaps the most sobering statistic attesting to the problem of mental health is that of suicides – in 2020, the CDC found that the suicide rate for men working in construction is about four times higher than the general population. Clearly, more needs to be done to make the construction industry safer, both physically and mentally. Taking steps to address both issues can go a long way towards keeping your workers at work, and your projects on-schedule.
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