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When Lendlease carried out research into the health of its 18,000 strong

workforce, it discovered three big issues: problems with mental health, high

blood pressure and fatigue. This won’t come as a huge surprise to many readers.

INDUSTRY EYE

62

December 2015

Issue 39

Wellbeing days to help

tackle stress and fatigue

One of the initiatives Lendlease

has just launched as a result of

these findings is ‘wellbeing days’;

employees will be encouraged to

take at least a day off every three to

four months to de-stress.

There’s a business case for

Lendlease’s new strategy, which

also includes a network of mental

health first aiders, six months

parental leave for mum or dad,

and health improvement schemes.

“A healthier, happier workforce is

naturally a more productive and

engaged one – and less likely

to take regular sick leave,” said

Lendlease Europe’s head of HR Lisa

White in a press release.

This is definitely a step in the right

direction. But are wellbeing days

– or ‘duvet days’ as one news site

dubbed them - a practical idea for

those in the thick of it, out on site?

The Lendlease story reminded

me of a recent visit to a big

construction project that was

plastered with notices about how

important sleep was for health and

wellbeing. And yet this was a job

where everyone was being forced

to work like dogs because the

client had set a ridiculously short

timescale for political reasons – and

contractor and consultants had

agreed it could be done, because

they wanted the work.

I am sometimes awestruck by the

huge amounts of pressure that site

teams manage to work under. For

large projects that were tendered

during the recession it has been a

particular problem over the past

few years: projects are probably

under-resourced, materials and

labour costs are escalating, and

individuals are expected to work

exceptionally long hours just to

keep things on track - or as close to

the track as possible.

I’ve come across a few individuals

who could definitely have done

with a wellbeing day – or ten. But

since they were working early

mornings, evenings and weekends

at the time, I’m not sure they would

have agreed to take a day off to do

yoga or go for a bike ride.

Nobody really wants to work like

that. Their families don’t want them

to either. The good news is that as

the industry hots up again, it seems

that people are demanding better

working conditions.

A recent survey by Construction

Manager magazine and Arcadis

revealed that 40% of construction

professionals rated a flexible

working environment as the most

important benefit they looked

for in a new employer, above the

reward package. And a supportive,

professional working environment

was rated number one, more

important than salary, as a factor

that attracted people to a new

employer.