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Many firms in the built environment are struggling to attract and retain high-quality talent and to find meaningful ways to set themselves apart from the competition. But beyond the more obvious things that hiring firms might consider when it comes to their talent, perhaps mental health and wellbeing has been overlooked as a valid and effective retention and attraction strategy.
Despite all the positive talk around this important topic and declarations from companies that they are committed to looking after their staff’s mental health and wellbeing, there still appears to be a significant disconnect between what employers are saying and how employees are feeling. Our recent Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey has highlighted just how much is still to be done within real estate and construction when it comes to supporting workers’ mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and the importance of it to job seekers.
In our survey, 93% of respondents agreed that the state of their mental health affects their ability to do their job either greatly or to some extent, and yet only 22% believe their employer is taking care of their mental wellbeing.
Three-quarters (76%) said they would look for a new role if their mental health wasn’t being sufficiently supported by their employer, and 83% of respondents said having a comprehensive mental health and wellbeing strategy was important for them when considering a new role.
It’s clear from these results that companies need to step up their game and put this at top of their agenda, or they risk losing valued team members. And with ongoing talent shortages and employers struggling to find quality people to hire, how they approach mental health and wellbeing will be key for them in retaining and attracting staff.
If companies want to ensure they have a happy, healthy and productive workforce, then prioritising and investing in comprehensive mental health and wellbeing initiatives is vital. Staff want to feel genuinely supported, and they want more than just a tick-box exercise. A handful of employers do seem to be making a genuine difference to their staff, others seem to be trying but sadly falling short.
Here are two ways that employers can start to turn the tide and essentially to do better for their workers:
Strong internal communication is key. Only 13% of respondents to our survey agreed their employer was very effectively communicating the mental health and wellbeing support on offer. Poor internal communications was also one of the top stress triggers currently being experienced at 42% – and 34% of respondents also identified better internal communications as one of the ways employers could support their mental health. Perhaps it’s time to review your internal communication in terms of frequency, channels and language used to ensure it's hitting the right note with your staff.
Talking to your employees and listening to their feedback is also something that all employers should be doing regularly. However, only 31% of employers appear to be conducting regular staff surveys, and a mere 28% of those are actually communicating the results and implementing changes as a result. Introducing regular staff feedback surveys, telling staff the results and taking on board feedback and making changes, as a result, is a very strong signal to your staff that you value and respect their opinions and contributions to the business.
2. Cultural shift
It’s also important that having a strong approach to mental health and wellbeing is part of a larger cultural shift to a more open environment which genuinely supports and encourages workers. More importantly, it has to come from the top down, with senior leaders and managers setting a good example for their staff.
Only 11% of respondents to our survey strongly agreed that their senior leadership team sets a good example when it comes to mental health and wellbeing. Poor support from management was also one of the top triggers for workplace stress at 45%. Respondents also identified ‘creating a culture of openness and ‘improved support from line managers/HR’ as two of the top things employers could be doing more to support their mental health. So, hiring firms, take note!
The pandemic has massively changed people’s priorities and also impacted people’s mental health and wellbeing. The tide is turning, and those employers who take this area seriously will be the ones to gain the competitive advantage when it comes to having the best talent on their team.