Members, non-members and exhibitors attending HAE EHA’s annual conference at Holywell Park in Loughborough were given an ideal opportunity to assess and improve their strategies for dealing with mental health in the workplace by expert speakers on this growing issue.
It is estimated mental health problems blight one in four of the UK population, a figure replicated last year in the construction industry according to a survey by Construction News’ magazine’s Mind Matters campaign, which also revealed that this rose to one in three among junior members of staff and graduates.
Measures companies can take to spot the warning signs of mental illness and how to support their employees were the focus of talks given by the Revd. Kevin Fear of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), who is currently working with an initiative called Building Mental Health and Martin Coyd OBE, Head of Health, Safety & Wellbeing at Mace Construction.
The experienced duo shared a platform to describe initiatives like Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England and Building Mental Health, which provide free resources to construction companies so that they can help and give guidance to employees suffering from mental illness.
Keeping on the theme of the wellbeing of workers, Faye Bevington of Stallard Kane Associates gave a very interesting insight into dyslexia in the workplace and what employers can do to help those with this common learning difficulty, like providing quiet areas, not altering work patterns and using simple computer text formats like Arial.
Mind over matter was the theme of Dr Jack Lewis, a leading neuroscientist, whose topic ‘Neuroscience of decision making and how technology is changing our brain’, provided his audience with food for thought by explaining that putting aside their electronic gadgetry, even for a short period, can unclutter the mind and lead to a more creative way of thinking.
It was a creative presentation from Focko Imhorst of McKinsey & Company, who works with clients on setting corporate strategy and improving operational performance. His topic was an upbeat message on the changing face of the construction industry and the opportunities for Hire that can overcome setbacks such as the collapse of Carillion.
Attracting young people into Hire is an ongoing challenge for companies. This was addressed by Mark Woolaston, of ITV Business Development Team with his presentation on how to engage and recruit 16-24-year-olds – his television company attracts 26.5million of them as viewers! HAE EHA’s commercial manager Paul Gaze continued the theme with his talk on future career paths in Hire.
The impressive line-up of ‘Forward Together’ speakers at the HAE EHA conference included Ben Hardy, Managing Director of Richmond Event Management on Behind the Scenes at Bristol Balloon Festival and Amanda Knowles, Heidi Russell and Jessica Bowen from VP PLC Hire Station who discussed leading roles for women in Hire and how businesses can boost female career progression.
Michael Dall, lead economist at construction market analysts Barbour ABI, gave his take on the current state of the UK economy with specific focus on the construction sector, while Justin Levene of HireHop revealed the advantages of moving software into the cloud.
The welcoming address was given by HAE EHA Chair Brian Sherlock, who also presented Marcrist International with the Hire Industry Trusted Supplier (HITS) Award during the conference, with Sales Director Gareth Matthews accepting the certificate.
HAE EHA Managing Director, Graham Arundell, said: “The exciting speaker line-up proved that we are the Association that cares about all stakeholders in the Hire industry. Businesses can be blind to mental health problems among their workers, unlike physical issues.
“A lean and mean workforce can boost productivity so using conference to highlight the measures that companies can take to help the wellbeing of employees, as well as their physical health and safety, is a good thing for our industry.”
Feedback from members deemed the one-day event a great success, with the varied guest speaker programme offering something for everyone. For more information and to become a member go to https://www.hae.org.uk/.