Stress in construction might just be a bigger problem than any other…and the construction industry has big problems. To put our industry right, we need to solve these issues as soon as possible.
Maybe you’ve seen the CDC report that found that the construction industry has one of the highest rates of suicide compared to other industries. The rate of death by suicide is even greater than the rate of death from work-related accidents in a field full of dangerous jobs.
Why would this be happening? We don’t have to look very hard to find out. If you’ve worked in construction for any time at all, you know that stress and pressure on the job are strong.
Stress and depression are strong contributors to suicide.
Stress in Construction Comes From…
Too many hours working
It’s easy to put in 60-80 hours a week, in sometimes hard conditions. Labor shortages mean there’s not enough people to get the work done.
Poor health choices from too many hours working
When you work 60-80 hours a week, do you know what suffers? Sleep. Rest. Downtime. Healthy eating. Exercise. Fun. Losing out on the things that balance and restore us wears us down.
And way too many people quit the job for the day and grab a beer or 12. Alcohol abuse and substance abuse are big problems in the industry, before, during and after work.
Strong job pressure
We’re always under pressure to work faster and do more. Meet the schedule and stay within budget, even if things come up that no one expected. And if you’re getting drowned in a stream of emails and texts from 87 people who are late, have a problem, or want to know why this work wasn’t done yesterday, well, that’s too bad.
Whether you’re a laborer, subcontractor, GC, or company owner, you know what it’s like to not get paid for the work you did. Only 61% of contractors are paid in full on every job.
Money stresses are some of the biggest problems we can have.
Injuries and chronic pain
Just by itself, prolonged stress can have a bad impact on mental health, which can lead to suicide. But stress can also knock you off your game long enough to get injured. And most people can’t stop working; so they just keep going through the pain. Chronic pain is a major contributor to stress, depression, and suicide.
We Have to Take Action
None of these issues are going to resolve on their own. Stress leads to health issues from headaches to anxiety to strokes and heart attacks; not just suicide. We can’t work as effectively with others if we’re stressed and they’re stressed. Communication suffers, and the work suffers. Stressed out people make mistakes on the job; mistakes on the job lead to more stress. It’s a vicious circle.
And the severe labor shortages and higher turnover rates we’re having now aren’t likely to get any better if construction is a terrible industry to work in.
The good news is that we’re starting to see some movement at addressing stress and substance abuse in construction. As a society, we’re paying more attention to mental health. Hopefully, that makes it less taboo to talk about it in the construction industry.
We need to be more open to acknowledging stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and mental health in construction, and take steps together to make space to talk about it and address it without judgement. We need to start asking workers if they’re OK and caring about the answer. We need to make sure we provide work environments that stop bullying and harassment.
Stress in construction isn’t the reason we created IntelliSpeX. We built it to solve all the other problems the construction industry faces now. We wanted to simplify communication on the jobsite, capture more change orders with proof of work, document conditions and completed work to solve billing disputes faster, manage people more efficiently in the face of labor shortages, cut travel time and more. It turned out that all those things help reduce stress, too. That’s the feedback we’re getting from users, and we’re glad to hear it.
If you’d like a demonstration of how IntelliSpeX can improve every construction job, contact us today.