The Importance of Work-life Balance for Your Workers
The worker shortage is making construction recruiting harder than ever before. Without enough skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen on your job sites, workers likely have a heavier workload—and higher stress levels. On top of their jobs, they also have other demands, like family, financial obligations and more. Tending to their own health and wellbeing likely takes a backseat to everything else.
Enter the juggling act between living and working. It’s called work-life balance. We hear the term often, but do we ever stop to consider what it actually means? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the work-life balance definition is “the amount of time you spend doing your job compared with the amount of time you spend with your family and doing things you enjoy.”
Why is work-life balance so important? It turns out there are real health hazards to not maintaining a balance between life and work. If employees are struggling mentally, it can show up in their job performance in the form of missed workdays, on-site accidents, conflicts with coworkers and overall burnout. In fact, EHS Today, a U.S. occupational and health safety journal, reports that the construction industry has the highest suicide rate of any profession and that more than 80% of construction workers have experienced stress at work.
The pandemic has made matters worse, EHS Today adds. “Working tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to support their families and communities has only exacerbated the stress, burnout and mental health struggles for these essential workers.”
Beyond the impact on skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen is the impact on your company’s bottom line. How? Happy workers are also healthier overall, which means they show up for work and are more productive too. That worker shortage? If your employees are at their best and know you care about their health, they’re more likely to keep working for you and your company. And if they stay on the job, that means you spend less time dealing with employee turnover and in construction recruiting.
So what can you do as a contractor or subcontractor to help your skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen have the work-life balance we mentioned above?
Here are 7 steps to help construction workers achieve work-life balance:
1: Watch for burnout
2: Better manage workloads
3: Encourage breaks
4: Allow schedule flexibility
5: Lead by example
6: Supplement your workforce
7: Open the lines of communication
Let’s take a deep dive into each one of these.
7 Ways To Promote Work-life Balance for Your Workers
- Watch for burnout. Burnout can look like anything from exhaustion to physical complaints; injuries to irritability; and forgetfulness to calling in sick. Burnout can lead to reduced productivity, accidents on the job and eventual turnover. If you notice these signs in your skilled tradespeople, they may be suffering from burnout. Initiate a one-on-one conversation so you can understand what’s happening and offer solutions to help, if possible.
- Better manage workloads. This is tricky with the construction worker shortage, yet it’s imperative that you don’t overwork your skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen. Consider who brings what talents to your team and delegate accordingly. Have a clear strategy for getting a project done and revisit that strategy when necessary. When your workers see that others will share the load with them, that alone can help boost their mood and productivity.
- Encourage breaks. We all need breaks to rest our bodies, reach out to loved ones (also important to work-life balance) and clear our heads. Encouraging breaks on your worksite is essential for workers to destress and recharge. Even taking a quick 5-minute break can allow your workers to refocus and refresh, according to a study performed by the University of Illinois. Make sure they know it really is okay for them to take a break if they need it. A workforce that is fully focused on the tasks at hand is a safe workforce. Lead by example and take breaks when you need them instead of just pushing through.
- Allow schedule flexibility. We know it’s not always possible on a construction site to be flexible with scheduling. But how do you respond when workers need time off for a doctor’s appointment or their child’s school play? Are your schedules cut and dry, or is there room for flexibility when your workers need it? Give it some thought. Keep safety and teamwork top of mind, of course, but be open to accommodating your workers’ requests when you can.
- Lead by example. Again, leading by example is a key way to show you value work-life balance and that your workers should too. For example, your workers may not want to leave a job site until you do. So avoid routinely working long days and nights. Talk about your hobbies and the ways you alleviate stress. Share what you and your family enjoy doing together. If you can, sponsor family-friendly events and activities to demonstrate you value their family life too.
- Supplement your workforce. Understanding when the workload is too much for your skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen is necessary to break the cycle of overwork. By supplementing your construction team with skilled tradespeople from a construction staffing company like PeopleReady Skilled Trades, you’re showing your workers you value their wellbeing. A supplemental skilled workforce can also help alleviate your own stress by helping your company complete more projects on time and on budget.
- Open the lines of communication. Talk with your workers so you can understand their needs, their challenges and what’s causing their work-life balance to be out of balance. If meeting with each worker isn’t possible, consider sending out a simple survey to gauge how your skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen are doing and the status of their work-life balance. Once you have their feedback, be sure to start making adjustments so they know they’ve been heard and that you genuinely care about a healthy work-life balance.
Do you need more skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen on your jobsites to help your workers achieve a good work-life balance? Turn to PeopleReady Skilled Trades to supplement your construction workforce.
Looking for workers for your next project? Let’s go!