Read our latest findings from a market leading study conducted recently with a tier 1 construction and engineering firm.
The construction industry is Australia’s second largest industry behind mining and one of the country’s largest employers, employing almost 1.2 million people. advances in technology and new construction software is not only making the industry more efficient and profitable but more productive, with an increase in output of approximately 2.8% YOY.
The construction industry grew by 9% YOY in total employed personnel (third quickest after Arts & Recreation (17.6%) and Energy and Waste (10.6%), which could reasonably explain the 10.3% reduction in the Public Administration and Safety sector, as HSQ roles move in-house to keep up with tightening legislation.
Despite this, the industry as a whole remains exposed to many risks, most of which are largely outside of its control. A skilled labour shortage, an ageing workforce and influx of inexperienced workers are all factors driving up costly accidents and injuries on construction sites. Fire risks increase as temperatures on work sites soar thanks to climate change. Unexpected and extreme weather patterns affect unattended job sites as materials spoil and leaking and frozen pipes cause water damage.
Extreme weather conditions, natural disasters and global failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation place in the top 3 spots in terms of likelihood in the 2019 World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report, and place in the top 5 for global impact. In fact, there’s been an increasing trend of environmental disasters rising to the top of the likelihood and impact tables over the last 10 year – this is something that can no longer be ignored by business owners, employers and people managers.
In July 2018, WellteQ was engaged by tier 1 construction and engineering firm over a 6 month period to help run the digital elements of a combination wellness program that included initiatives like:
- Initial health risk assessment & personal goal setting
- Onsite educational talks relating to stress, active minutes, steps and sleep
- 2 x 4-week WellteQ team challenges with weekly mini challenges
- Mini on-site exercise and movement challenges
- Post-program evaluation and results assessment
What worked well about this project was the focus on incorporating a variety of platforms to ensure employees were engaged and educated using a range of tools and teaching methods. Frequently new technologies are deployed into companies with high expectations, heralded as the next silver bullet to fix all problems.
However, looking into the company culture, adjusting pantry snacks to healthier alternatives, appointing cross-department wellness champions, utilising a mix of more traditional onsite health talks and incorporating exercise challenges in parallel with a digital engagement tool can bring longer lasting results that bring more value to the workforce.
Overall, 77% of participants reported making longer-term changes to their health and wellbeing because of what they learnt during the program, of which improving nutrition and increasing exercise scored top of the list (Chart 1). Improvements in risk categories were found across physical, mental and social wellbeing (Figure 2), health habits and condition of the body (Table 1). This meant that that number of participants moving into lower risk categories increased, and the overall number of employees at risk reduced significantly in a wide range of health metrics.
The impressive breadth and consistency in results demonstrate that a combination of both digital and on-site platforms, individual and group activities and a benchmarking exercise at the start and end to measure improvements all help in encouraging and motivating participants to move the needle on their metrics.
Interestingly enough, this isn’t where the benefits of workplace wellbeing programs stop. When asked what they liked most about the program, responses included comments about feeling more connected to co-workers, improvements in team morale and the thoughtfulness and effort put in from the employer. Participants were more likely to recommend their employer to a friend or family member and were less stressed overall at work.
Post-challenge analysis was carried out on the group data to find correlations with meteorological data, namely heat-induced stress on site. The study showed that the higher the BMI, the higher the stress* levels and the stronger the impact of higher temperatures on site. Clearly, having a healthy BMI can reduce heat-induced stress (Chart 2) which could be linked to a reduction in workplace-related accidents and an increase in overall site productivity.
Having access to verified data-driven insights like these have a positive influence on how HSQ heads assign budgets and create workplace programs for impactful future initiatives, which ultimately will save lives while driving healthier habits outside of the workplace.
What are you looking at for next year’s programs?
What can your industry learn from construction?
How have wellbeing programs worked for you?
You can download a free PDF version of the case study here:
* Stress measured through Garmin’s Stress Score which is based on heart rate variability (the difference between heartbeats)