What’s Under the Hardhat? How Contractors Can Create a Strong Mental Workforce 

The month of May is dedicated to one of the construction industry’s most pressing issues, mental health. It’s how you feel, think, act, and perceive the world. Strong mental health leads to increased productivity, more self-confidence, and an overall happier life. Creating a company culture that incorporates healthy habits into your everyday routine is necessary for retaining employees and avoiding burnout.

Balancing multiple trades, unforeseen issues, demanding schedules, and different personalities were always rewarded by having a “tough guy” mentality. We now know having that frame of mind leads skilled trades professionals down a dangerous path of emotional destruction, burnout, loss in productivity and professional growth, and even death. If your organization values safety and productivity, then the mental health of your workforce should be your priority.

Doing something is better than doing nothing. There is an 80% success rate of overcoming mental illness with early treatment (American General Contractors Association). Educating your team can help save lives.

Before you dive into how you can help, take a 2-minute anonymous mental healthcare screening.

You can’t help others unless you help yourself first.

Now You Can Begin

The Construction Industry Alliance provides a tool for your leadership to help them identify which team members can be of assistance. It’s never one person’s responsibility. Your organization will need complete buy-in from multiple team members and a broad integration. This tool will walk you through a series of questions to help you evaluate your level of mental health preparedness.

Any Level is a Helpful Level

Construction is often referred as “the greatest team sport” but when it comes to the mental health game, any level is a helpful level.  Creating a caring culture is the right thing to do.

Level 1: An organization takes basic steps towards establishing a program that addresses mental health.

  • Understanding the Issue
  • Share information & Educate Your Employees
  • Make Resources Available to Employees & Family Members
  • Take the Next Step

Level 2: An organization grows the initial steps into a deeper commitment.

  • Build Leadership Support & Understanding
  • Continue to Share Information & Educate Your Employees
  • Integrate Into Company Communications
  • Make Resources Available to Employees & Family Members
  • Take the Next Step

Level 3: An organization implements a companywide culture to address mental health.

  • Continue Leadership Support & Understanding
  • Sustain Awareness & Access to Resources
  • Company Communications
  • Make Resources Available
  • Sustain the Commitment

4 Ways to Create a Strong Mental Workforce

1) Overtime is a sweet financial reward, but it could take a toll emotionally and physically.  Here are some tips on managing the stress to overcoming the long workdays.

  • Practice relaxation techniques (such as mindfulness, yoga, breathing exercises, exc.).
  • Create healthy work relationships.
  • Stay organized in your workspace.
  • Stay positive and ignore negative or toxic thoughts.

2) Your Company’s Goals Need to Match Your Culture

  • Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk. Demonstrate a commitment to workers’ mental and emotional safety.

3) Share Your Resources

  • Display poster art, stats or facts surrounding mental health in offices and job site trailers.
  • Incorporate mental health topics into your toolbox talks.
  • Share mental health videos and articles in your employee e-newsletter.
  • Post resources on your social media channels.

4) Take the Pledge

Your workers can have the grit and tenacity to see the job through, but also struggle with mental health. Join other contractors, unions, industry associations, service providers and project owners that are working together to overcome the mental health stigma. Get started today.