The mental and physical well-being of employees should be a priority in any workplace. For professionals in the trades, a job often requires long hours and strenuous manual labor, which can present additional challenges. While these jobs are integral to the success of businesses, maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for tradespeople is critical in ensuring their health and productivity.
This blog will explore ways to ensure workplace well-being for professionals in the trades, including strategies to help prevent and manage potentially hazardous working conditions as well as workplace mental health considerations.
What is “Workplace Wellbeing”?
Workplace well-being in the context of trades jobs encompasses the comprehensive spectrum of a tradesperson’s working life, including their emotional response to the job, the physical safety of their work environment, and how their duties and remuneration impact their overall health and job satisfaction.
Impact of Wellbeing on Job Performance and Satisfaction
Image Source: insulation.org
The state of employee health directly correlates with their productivity and job satisfaction. Studies have shown a clear link between the general health and well-being of workers and their levels of productivity. In trades jobs, where tasks can be repetitive and physically exhausting, maintaining high levels of well-being can lead to improved job performance, a reduction in workplace injuries, better collaboration among team members, and a higher rate of employee retention.
Optimal Performance and Health Correlation
A study highlighted by SAGE Journals emphasizes that employees who maintain good physical, mental, and emotional health are more likely to deliver optimal performance in the workplace. The study notes that healthy and happy employees have a better quality of life, a lower risk of disease and injury, and increased work productivity.
Affective Commitment as a Mediator
Research cited by Emerald.com explores the role of affective commitment as a determinant of work outcomes, including job satisfaction and job performance. This is particularly relevant in trades jobs, where the nature of work can affect emotional engagement and commitment to the organization. Studies have used affective commitment to assess the impact on low turnover intention, job satisfaction, and job performance.
Job Design and Employment Practices
According to a systematic review reported by PsycNET, the impact of job design and employment practices on well-being has been studied with mixed results. This review suggests that while deliberate attempts to improve job design can impact well-being, the results are not always consistent.
Factors Affecting Workplace Wellbeing
Physical Strain and Lack of Downtime
Blue-collar jobs often involve labor-intensive work with little downtime, making it difficult to strike a balance between physical activity and rest. Excessive physical labor can lead to health issues, while too little physical activity can result in lethargy, boredom, or depression.
Work Conditions and Relationships
Despite various regulations to promote workplace well-being, dissatisfaction with work conditions and relationships, along with associated health risks, remains high among blue-collar workers. This dissatisfaction can stem from factors like inadequate work environment, poor management, or strained coworker relationships.
Health Risks and Chronic Diseases
Blue-collar work is associated with a higher risk of developing chronic diseases, heart failure, and depression. Workers in these jobs are often exposed to respiratory hazards due to air pollutants, such as dust in construction or farming, contributing to health issues.
Long and Demanding Work Hours
Many blue-collar workers have extended work hours, often exceeding 60 hours per week, in demanding and dangerous environments. These conditions can contribute to a high risk of accidents and a need for constant concentration, impacting both physical and mental health.
High rates of alcohol and drug abuse are reported among blue-collar workers. The physically demanding nature of these jobs and the resultant work-related injuries can lead workers to use drugs and alcohol to cope with stress and pain, sometimes leading to dependence on pain medications.
What are the “Best Practices” to Promote Wellbeing
|Conduct regular workplace culture surveys to identify areas needing improvement in employee wellbeing. This can cover physical strain, job satisfaction, and improvement suggestions.
|Eliminate Workplace Stressors
|Address and mitigate common stressors, such as heavy workloads or unsafe conditions, by optimizing break times or upgrading equipment.
|Provide regular resilience training on accident prevention and handling hazardous situations, crucial in trades jobs with physical risks.
|Health and Wellness Facilities
|Create spaces for health-related information exchange and provide facilities like workplace gyms, which are especially beneficial where physical fitness is key.
|Healthy Snacks and Water
|Offer healthy snacks and water to maintain energy levels, crucial for physically demanding tasks.
|Promote regular breaks, including short walks or snack breaks, to help workers recharge and maintain productivity.
|Implement ergonomic solutions, such as adjustable stands or supportive seating, to reduce physical strain.
|Conduct mental health assessments and provide support like counseling to help manage stress and emotional challenges.
|Flexible Work Schedule
|Offer flexibility in work schedules to help balance work and personal commitments, leading to better overall well-being.
|Simplicity and Convenience in Wellness Programs
|Ensure wellness programs are simple and convenient, integrating activities into daily routines like walking trails or exercise stations at the work site, making it easy for employee engagement without disrupting their schedule.
The Role of Leadership in Fostering Wellbeing
In a blue-collar working environment, the role of leadership in building well-being is particularly crucial due to the unique challenges and stressors these workers often face:
Emphasize Safety and Health
In blue-collar jobs, where physical work is predominant, leaders must prioritize safety and health. This includes providing proper safety equipment, ensuring that safety protocols are rigorously followed, and offering health-related benefits like ergonomic assessments and wellness programs. Encouraging regular breaks and physical exercises to prevent injuries is also crucial.
Create a Culture of Purpose and Recognition
Leaders should help employees see the value and purpose in their work. Recognizing the hard work and contributions of blue-collar workers can significantly boost morale. For example, celebrating milestones, sharing stories of how their work impacts the broader organization or community, and acknowledging individual or team achievements play a vital role in building a sense of purpose.
Offer Growth and Learning Opportunities
Providing opportunities for skill development and career advancement can greatly enhance workers’ sense of growth and job satisfaction. This could include on-the-job training, workshops, or even tuition assistance for further education relevant to their roles.
Foster a Supportive Community
Building a sense of community and connection among workers is vital. This can be achieved through team-building activities, creating spaces for workers to socialize during breaks, and forming support groups or committees that focus on specific aspects of workplace wellbeing.
Encourage Agency and Empowerment
Giving blue-collar workers a voice in decision-making, especially on matters directly affecting their work, can significantly boost their sense of agency. This might involve input on shift scheduling, workplace improvements, or safety protocols.
Prioritize Mental Health
Acknowledging and supporting to improve mental health in the workplace is essential. Leaders can do this by providing access to mental health resources, such as counseling services, and creating an environment where workers feel comfortable discussing mental health conditions.
Ensure Fair and Flexible Working Conditions
Considering the physical demands of blue-collar jobs, leaders should strive to offer flexible working conditions wherever possible. This might include flexible shift patterns, opportunities for part-time work, or policies that accommodate family and personal needs.
Regular Communication and Feedback
Maintaining open lines of communication and providing regular feedback can help blue-collar workers feel valued and understood. This includes not just top-down communication but also encouraging feedback from workers on their experiences and needs.
The importance of workplace wellbeing in trade jobs is paramount, encompassing more than just physical safety. It includes emotional and mental health, job satisfaction, and overall quality of life for tradespeople. Given the physically demanding and often hazardous nature of these jobs, employers and employees alike must prioritize holistic well-being.
DayJob Recruitment is at the forefront of promoting this essential balance. By understanding the specific needs of trades jobs and focusing on aligning the right employers with the right job seekers, we ensure a harmonious workplace where health and well-being are key priorities.
Contact us at DayJob Recruitment and take the first step towards a future where the well-being of trades workers is at the heart of every employment decision.
Interested in how we can support your role as an employer? Click below to learn more.
What mental illness issues are associated with blue-collar jobs, and how to mitigate them?
Blue-collar workers face unique mental ill-health challenges due to job insecurity, loss of income, and the demanding nature of their work. These factors can contribute to mental health issues such as stress, depression, and anxiety. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated these challenges, highlighting the need for comprehensive support programs and social protection measures to mitigate these issues.
As enumerated in the content above, a holistic approach to health, including a good work life balance. Effective individual and organizational strategies are recommended to address job stress, particularly among female blue-collar workers who may experience unique stressors related to their work environment.
Are there stress management programs available in Australia focused on blue-collar workers?
There are no stress management programs in Australia targeted specifically at blue-collar workers. However, workers should seek out general stress management resources and employee assistance programs that can be applied in their context.
Organizations, community health services, and online platforms offer stress management resources that can be beneficial. Below are a handful of resources that you may reach out:
Online Therapy (eTherapy) Resources
This is taken from Healthdirect Australia:
- MindSpot: Offers online and telephone assessment and treatment for adults experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.
- The BRAVE Program: An online program for childhood and adolescent anxiety prevention and treatment.
- eCentreClinic: Free online treatment courses for worry, anxiety, stress, and depression.
- e-couch: Self-help interactive program for depression, anxiety, and grief.
- Moodgym: An interactive self-help book for managing depression and anxiety symptoms.
- MyCompass: A guide to good mental health with tools and resources.
- This Way Up: Clinically-proven online programs for stress, anxiety, and low mood.
- LifeWorks is an online community that can provide support, enabling people to share experiences and receive professional advice in a moderated setting.
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)
NEMA provides a portal with information about mental health and wellbeing support services, especially following disasters or emergencies. This includes links to several online chat services for immediate support, like Beyond Blue, Headspace, Lifeline Chatlink and Fortem Australia, which offers mental health support services to emergency service workers and their families.