Contractor offers tips for a happier work environment

TO mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Willmott Dixon has provided some tips for businesses to help make life at work more pleasant for employees.

The contractor launched its All Safe Minds initiative last year, which offers support to construction sector employees struggling with depression.

Mark French, head of health, safety and environment for Willmott Dixon, lists these five steps that employers can implement.

  • Keep work strictly to work hours.

Work-life balance is an incredibly important factor in helping to avoid work-related stress and anxiety. By allowing your staff to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day, and respecting their family/private life, they will ultimately feel more inclined to work harder during work hours. Avoid sending late night emails and don’t expect them to sit up until midnight writing reports – mutual respect and common sense go a very long way.

  • Be Flexible

Life rarely runs to plan. School emergencies, ill-health, hospital visits etc – they’re all stressful enough, without the added worry that your boss is going to penalise you, or even worse, prevent you, from dealing with them. Be realistic – if someone needs time off for a valid reason, make it an easy process. Communicate your company policy, explaining clearly what the expectations are on both sides so that you’re all on the same page – not only will it be massively appreciated but could also help your business function more effectively when emergencies strike.

  • Make it personal

Small acts of appreciation can go a very long way. For example, at Willmott Dixon we give all our employees a day off on their birthday. We find that remaining staff members don’t mind covering their colleagues for one day, because they know they’ll get their turn when their own birthday comes around. If it helps create a happier workforce, what’s one day between friends?

  • Encourage personal development and career goals

It’s cheaper and easier to keep the employees you already have, as oppose to recruiting new ones. If your staff become disillusioned, bored or unfulfilled in their work, the likelihood is sooner or later they’ll move on. This is costly for your business in terms of recruitment, interviewing and training time, not to mention the decrease in productivity that can take place while you’re busy getting a new member of staff in place. If you understand what your employees are hoping for in the long-term and help them progress, you’re far more likely to keep them. Similarly, if they are struggling with an element of their job, give them the means to communicate that freely to you, knowing that they’ll receive the support they need to master it.

  • Add a simple page to your website

There are already a huge number of professional resources available for people who might be struggling with their mental health. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel – we just need the people we care about to be aware of those existing resources. Consider adding one single page to your website or company intranet, listing all the important numbers and support services that are available. Someone needing those services is unlikely to feel like surfing the net, so being able to refer quickly to a single resource, could offer a very simple but very real lifeline. Willmott Dixon has done exactly that – check out the All Safe Minds page here.