Mental Health of Employees: We Need to Talk - Home Artisans of Indiana w
Mental Health of Employees: We Need to Talk
Mental Health of Employees: We Need to Talk

Simone Biles. Michael Phelps. Adele. Selena Gomez. Ryan Reynolds. Meghan Markle. Duane Johnson. Kerry Washington. These famous names have been vocal about their struggles with mental health in the past year. They are seeking, in their own ways, to shatter the stigma – and urge people to get help. You know who else needs to be talking about mental health? 

Us. 

Escalating Challenges In the Mental Health of Employees: Is This the “New Normal”? 

It’s a tough conversation, particularly in the skilled trades. Let’s take construction, for example. The biggest hazard isn’t necessarily working at height, falling objects, or slips, trips, and falls… it’s mental health. According to the CDC, this sector has the highest rate of suicide (Installation, Maintenance, and Repair and Arts and Design come in at second and third, respectively). More construction workers die from suicide than every other workplace-related fatality combined. 

Further, more than 80% of construction employees experience stress at work. These workers are more vulnerable to burnout than anyone in any other field. The pandemic – and concurrent uptick in demand, long hours, and materials shortages  – only exacerbates the problem.  

It’s not just the construction field. Per the NIH, people in the skilled trades face a greater risk of mental health problems compared to the general population.  

Higher levels of sustained stress, anxiety, and depression impact individuals and companies. They can, and often do, lead to: 

We’ve thrown a lot of stats and facts at you, but if you only remember one, make sure it is this one: 

Approximately 60% of construction workers report that they struggle with mental health – only a third say they would talk to their employers about it. 

(Again, while we are focusing on the construction industry, mental health struggles extend to all of those in the skilled trades at a particularly high rate.) 

Why are they suffering in silence? A few reasons: They’re embarrassed. They don’t think their employer can help. They’re afraid it’ll hurt their career or impact job security. They don’t want to be seen as “weak.” 

What Now? 

We start talking, and we start acting.  

Handing out Employee Assistance Program pamphlets and throwing around the term “self-care” (have a cup of tea, take a hot bath, take a walk) are not doing it. EAP utilization is less than 10% – and we’re more coffee-consumers than tea-takers. We need to do more. 

What does this look like? 

A quick list of action items isn’t going to solve the problems related to the mental health of employees… but it’s a start. 

Take Preventative Action 

As home industry professionals, we can build solutions and fix just about anything, but we can’t just erase stress from the workplace. What we can do, though, is take steps to reduce it. For example, we can clarify roles and expectations; ambiguity here is a major factor in job stress. We can communicate more clearly when it comes to issues like scheduling, supplies, and other issues facing the industry and do our best to allay concerns and worries. 

We can also use artisan-approved tools to help combat pressing issues, like excessive hours given high demand and labor shortages. This will make life at work a bit easier for your team, reducing stress levels and making challenges more manageable.  

These steps aren’t a cure-all, but as we said, it’s a start. 

Lead by Example  

Train your leaders – and yourself – to detect signs of mental health struggles and high stress levels. We mentioned taking a break when you need one. This is one action you can take, but make sure you are as open as you are comfortable with (and maybe just a touch beyond that) about mental health. Consider hosting guest speakers to whom your people can relate, as well.  

The goal is to destigmatize these issues; this includes normalizing conversations around these topics and making sure employees feel safe and able to speak up.  

This pays off – primarily when it comes to decreasing stress levels and opening people up to avenues for help. But also when it comes to productivity and engagement. More than half (57%) of workers say they would be more loyal to their jobs, more productive, and take fewer days off if their employer supported their mental wellbeing.  

Be Willing – and Prepared – to Help 

A vague “We’re here if you need us,” isn’t enough. You need to be both willing and prepared to assist employees who are struggling with mental health issues. Have resources to which you can direct them at the ready (e.g. EAP, nearby healthcare clinics, counselors, referral services for folks with challenges, including substance misuse, etc.). Emphasize that any discussions, any referrals, or any follow-up appointments, etc., are strictly confidential. This is a health matter, and any information related is protected.  

You can’t make people get help, but if they are courageous enough to take a step forward, meet them and assist them with the next one. 

Let’s Build a New – Better – “New Normal” 

The mental health of employees must be a priority. Yes, we are waging war on labor shortages. Yes, we are dealing with supply chain challenges. Yes, we are contending with rising fuel prices and inflation. And yes… we need to put the wellbeing of our people first. 

It’s the only way we can survive and thrive as businesses. It’s the only way we can thrive… period. 

Keep the conversation going; together, we can build a new, better “new normal,” and stronger companies. Visit homeartisans.com to learn more. 

 

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