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“We are our own worst enemy”: a qualitative exploration of work-related stress in the construction industry

“We are our own worst enemy”: a qualitative exploration of work-related stress in the... Around 400,000 working days per year are lost in the construction industry due to stress, depression or anxiety, but a large proportion of the industry – those primarily not based “on-site” – is not included in these statistics. Little research has been conducted in this group about their experiences of occupational stress. The authors explored how stress was experienced and managed by construction professionals and its perceived impact on health.Design/methodology/approachThe authors interviewed 32 construction professionals in a British construction company, with varying levels of seniority and years in the industry. Interviews were transcribed, coded and analysed thematically.FindingsStress was viewed an inevitable and increasing part of the construction industry, exacerbated by recent economic challenges. Participants talked about a culture of stress and overwork but often felt unable to challenge it due to job insecurity. Senior management acknowledged stress was a problem within the industry and something that potentially threatened company productivity. Company-wide initiatives had been implemented to address stress levels (e.g. Mental Health First Aiders), but were criticised for ignoring underlying issues. Informal means of managing stress were identified, such as careful consideration of team dynamics, which allowed employees to form close bonds and using “banter” and camaraderie to relieve stress. However, the persistence of a macho male image meant some participants were reluctant to talk about their feelings at work. Participants described individual coping strategies, such as exercise, but these were hard to prioritise in challenging times.Originality/valueThere is growing recognition that health and well-being must be given greater priority in the construction industry. Industry pressures and competitive practices undermine efforts to improve staff well-being. Action must be taken at senior levels to address this conflict, while building on existing informal mechanisms of support and stress relief. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Workplace Health Management Emerald Publishing

“We are our own worst enemy”: a qualitative exploration of work-related stress in the construction industry

“We are our own worst enemy”: a qualitative exploration of work-related stress in the construction industry

International Journal of Workplace Health Management , Volume 15 (5): 14 – Sep 9, 2022

Abstract

Around 400,000 working days per year are lost in the construction industry due to stress, depression or anxiety, but a large proportion of the industry – those primarily not based “on-site” – is not included in these statistics. Little research has been conducted in this group about their experiences of occupational stress. The authors explored how stress was experienced and managed by construction professionals and its perceived impact on health.Design/methodology/approachThe authors interviewed 32 construction professionals in a British construction company, with varying levels of seniority and years in the industry. Interviews were transcribed, coded and analysed thematically.FindingsStress was viewed an inevitable and increasing part of the construction industry, exacerbated by recent economic challenges. Participants talked about a culture of stress and overwork but often felt unable to challenge it due to job insecurity. Senior management acknowledged stress was a problem within the industry and something that potentially threatened company productivity. Company-wide initiatives had been implemented to address stress levels (e.g. Mental Health First Aiders), but were criticised for ignoring underlying issues. Informal means of managing stress were identified, such as careful consideration of team dynamics, which allowed employees to form close bonds and using “banter” and camaraderie to relieve stress. However, the persistence of a macho male image meant some participants were reluctant to talk about their feelings at work. Participants described individual coping strategies, such as exercise, but these were hard to prioritise in challenging times.Originality/valueThere is growing recognition that health and well-being must be given greater priority in the construction industry. Industry pressures and competitive practices undermine efforts to improve staff well-being. Action must be taken at senior levels to address this conflict, while building on existing informal mechanisms of support and stress relief.

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Paige M. Hulls, Frank de Vocht, Richard M. Martin and Rebecca M. Langford
ISSN
1753-8351
DOI
10.1108/ijwhm-11-2021-0213
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Around 400,000 working days per year are lost in the construction industry due to stress, depression or anxiety, but a large proportion of the industry – those primarily not based “on-site” – is not included in these statistics. Little research has been conducted in this group about their experiences of occupational stress. The authors explored how stress was experienced and managed by construction professionals and its perceived impact on health.Design/methodology/approachThe authors interviewed 32 construction professionals in a British construction company, with varying levels of seniority and years in the industry. Interviews were transcribed, coded and analysed thematically.FindingsStress was viewed an inevitable and increasing part of the construction industry, exacerbated by recent economic challenges. Participants talked about a culture of stress and overwork but often felt unable to challenge it due to job insecurity. Senior management acknowledged stress was a problem within the industry and something that potentially threatened company productivity. Company-wide initiatives had been implemented to address stress levels (e.g. Mental Health First Aiders), but were criticised for ignoring underlying issues. Informal means of managing stress were identified, such as careful consideration of team dynamics, which allowed employees to form close bonds and using “banter” and camaraderie to relieve stress. However, the persistence of a macho male image meant some participants were reluctant to talk about their feelings at work. Participants described individual coping strategies, such as exercise, but these were hard to prioritise in challenging times.Originality/valueThere is growing recognition that health and well-being must be given greater priority in the construction industry. Industry pressures and competitive practices undermine efforts to improve staff well-being. Action must be taken at senior levels to address this conflict, while building on existing informal mechanisms of support and stress relief.

Journal

International Journal of Workplace Health ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: Sep 9, 2022

Keywords: Construction; Occupational stress; Health and well-being; Workplace

References