How to reduce the stigma of health issues in engineering

Benenden Health’s survey shows a tendency among engineering and construction workers to hide health issues from employers

More than a third of employees in the architecture, engineering and construction sector would not talk to their employer if they were experiencing a health issue that was having a detrimental impact on business performance and culture, a survey by Benenden Health has shown.

As many as 38% of people in the industry reported they wouldn’t feel confident discussing any health issues with their employer, with many worrying about what it would mean for their career and relationships within the workplace.

With almost half of all employees in architecture, engineering and construction (48%) revealing that they have a health issue, long-term condition or disability, it’s clear that fear and stigma around health in the workplace means millions of workers may not be getting the necessary – or indeed any – support from their employers. This could lead to absences, lower productivity and ultimately cause employees to leave their job.

The survey revealed the most common ailments that workers have not disclosed to their employer to be poor mental health, high blood pressure and arthritis – all conditions that could be exacerbated in the workplace. Just over a third of employees in the sector (34%) also disclosed that they have lied to an employer about taking time off for a health appointment, making it difficult for businesses to ensure workers are getting the appropriate support.

Workplace wellbeing

The reasons why employees in architecture, engineering and construction would be reticent to discuss their wellbeing at work were also revealed, with a quarter of respondents saying they would worry that people would think they couldn’t do their job (26%) and more than a fifth believing they might lose their job (22%). Meanwhile, 17% concerned that they would be talked about and one in ten (9%) worrying that people wouldn’t want to be their friend.

For some, these concerns were based on experience, with 9% of employees in the industry believing that they have been overlooked for a job in the past due to a health issue, long-term condition or disability.

Following the findings, Benenden Health is calling on business owners in the industry to open communication channels with their teams and consider the health needs of their workforce to support positive wellbeing, increase staff retention and reduce unexpected absences. Naomi Thompson, Head of Organisational Development at Benenden Health, says: “It is disappointing that so many people still feel they can’t speak to their employers about their wellbeing.

“This stigma is especially prevalent in the workplace, with businesses too often unable to identify wellbeing issues, employees concerned about the implications of discussing them, and a continuing lack of tangible support – all of which contribute to lost time and productivity for businesses as well as unaddressed poor employee wellbeing. Tailored wellbeing programmes, developed with employee consultation and recognising the different needs of a multigenerational workforce, can increase productivity, support recruitment and promote a happier and healthier workforce,” Naomi adds.

Read the report at

Image credit | Getty



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