Suicide prevention is such a critical issue in our community; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), construction has the highest suicide rate of all industries — four times greater than the national average.
In response to this crisis, CFMA established the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP) in 2016, which became a separate 501(c)3 organization in 2018. CIASP has worked tirelessly to break down the stigma around mental illness, raise awareness for suicide prevention, and provide resources to help educate the industry.
If you haven’t already done so, take the pledge and STAND up for suicide prevention. On the heels of the momentum generated during National Suicide Prevention Month in September, it’s important to continue the conversation and make mental health a priority in order to achieve the goal of making construction a zero-suicide industry. Here are three areas in which companies can prioritize employee wellbeing year-round.
Create a Wellness Program
While many construction businesses may not have the resources to offer perks that rival that of large corporations, developing a meaningful employee wellness program can help. Start by highlighting your company’s existing benefits.
Find out if your health care plan covers mental health or offers other benefits such as a health care flexible spending account (FSA). Make sure that information is clearly communicated to your employees so they can utilize all resources available to them.
There are countless possibilities to what your wellness program can include, many of which are free or relatively low cost. For example, encouraging people to be more active is a great way to boost wellness; in addition to the physical benefits, exercise can reduce feelings of stress and improve your mood. Consider starting a walking club during lunch, forming an employee sports team, or creating a fitness challenge to see which team can get the most steps in. Another popular benefit is to offer a reimbursement program for gym memberships or fitness equipment.
While you may not have the means to build out a robust program right away, it’s important to commit to making employee wellness a priority. If you’re unsure where to begin, conduct a poll to find out what your teams would most appreciate and start there.
And, work-life balance should be at the heart of every wellness program. People greatly value flexible working arrangements that foster a supportive work environment. A recent McKinsey study found that a flexible working arrangement was the third most popular reason given for seeking a new job, after greater pay or hours and better career opportunities. Giving your employees a sense of autonomy and offering greater flexibility when possible can go a long way in creating a positive work culture.
Turn to Technology
Technology may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to wellbeing since the overuse of technologies, such as social media, can have a negative impact on mental health; however, technology can be a useful tool when it comes to wellness. Consumer-facing apps such as Calm and Headspace can help manage stress and encourage a more positive mindset. Some of these even have free resources for employers as well as workplace versions if you opt to purchase a corporate subscription.