David Holmes is the founder of the Boiler Guide.
How to implement an open door policy in the trade sector workplace
Posted 12th Oct 2019
Our workplace is where we spend the majority of our time, where we interact with people and how we make a living, so it makes sense that our careers would have a significant effect on our mental and physical wellbeing.
This is especially important when it comes to the trades - electricians, plumbers, mechanics etc can often find themselves working alone all day with no one to really interact with, we might not think it, but it can be a lonely place to be. This paired with what can sometimes be irregular hours, energy exhausting tasks, and if you’re self-employed - work that isn’t guaranteed.
- Statistics reported by mental health charity, Mind, show that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental health problems during their working life.
- The Office for Natonal Statistics (ONS) found that people working in the trades are at a higher risk of suicide by as much as 1.6 times the national average.
- A recent survey by boiler manufacturer Glow-worm found that, on average, heating engineers take just 18 days holiday a year compared to the national average of 28 days.
It is clear that something needs to be done in order to move the industry to one that is more supportive and open. It is paramount that we look after our mental health and even more so our own employees’ - if you had an infection in your leg you would go to the doctors, and the same attitude should be taken with our mental health.
Start the conversation
Your employees may find talking about mental health problems difficult, particularly if you are the first person they have told. While it may not be appropriate to directly ask people if they are struggling, you can create an environment where mental health is openly discussed in a non-judgmental way.
Be a good listener
Show your employees that you are listening, taking their concerns on board and more importantly, that you will act on them where appropriate. If they feel you are someone who dismisses their opinions on even the smallest issues, you will build barriers.
If you have a staff notice board or an email newsletter, include links and information about mental health services which might be of help to them. Some workplaces are even appointing mental health first aiders in their team who are the first point of call for employees who are struggling should they feel uncomfortable speaking to their manager.
Confidentiality is key
Make sure that your employees are aware that conversations about mental health will be kept confidential and would only ever be shared with a limited number of people in extreme circumstances, e.g. if you were concerned that they intended to harm themselves.
Regular one-to-one catch-ups
Holding regular catch-ups with your employees gives them opportunities to bring up any worries or concerns they might be having either personally or professionally and shows them that you value them as an individual, not just as a member of staff.
Encourage a healthy work-life balance
To encourage your employees to take time out to relax and recharge you should lead by example. Take the breaks, lunches and holidays you are entitled to, don’t answer emails or take work calls during your holiday and make it clear that you want them to do the same.