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September 14, 2018

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Health and wellbeing

‘Hearts and Minds’: Tackling health and wellbeing at Laing O’Rourke

Construction company Laing O’Rourke is aiming to make 2018 its healthiest year by delivering four workstreams: wellbeing; health risk management; fitness for work and a healthy workplace.

The construction firm has used its data to identify its biggest health risks and has designed programmes to manage and reduce the impact of musculoskeletal Disorders, Mental Health and Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome.  The aim is to keep its employees healthy and in work, while reducing ill-health and sickness absence.

To deliver this strategy, the following programmes have been implemented:

  • Easy access to physiotherapy;
  • Online DSE assessments;
  • Managing mental health in the workplace;
  • A healthier happier lifestyle by design;
  • Continuous awareness, monitoring and improvements of vibration exposure in the workplace.

Mental Health Awareness Week

During Mental Health Awareness Week, the company ran its biggest health and Wellbeing campaign, ‘Hearts and Minds’, which promoted the importance of physical activity to mental wellbeing. The launch event was attended by the CEOs of the British Heart Foundation and Mind.

All employees were invited to take part in a cycling challenge, with the aim of collectively cycling the 21,000-mile return journey between the company’s Dartford, UK office, and its office in Sydney, Australia. To make the event inclusive, exercise bikes were provided in workplaces to help support road teams clock up the mileage.

To date, 37,776 miles have been completed by more than 2,500 stakeholders. Hearts and Minds was said to have delivered healthy competition among project teams by providing a team-building opportunity, while boosting pride and morale. More than £20,000 has been raised, split equally between BHF and Mind. The plan is to rollout the event across the Group in 2019.

Wellbeing sessions

Throughout 2017 Laing O’Rourke’s nutritionist visited sites and offices advising employees on managing their dietary health. The data highlighted that 71% of those employees who engaged in the wellbeing sessions were classed as overweight.

In response, the company introduced the ‘Biggest loser, best improver’ healthy lifestyle competition in January 2018. Capitalising on new year resolutions, this gave employees a 1:1 session with the company’s nutritionist. More than 850 employees volunteered to take part, whether they were looking to lose weight, cease smoking or improve lifestyle choices.

Anonymised data has provided recommendations and the results are due to be announced next month.

Industry forums

The company also participate in several different client and industry forums, such as the Health in Construction Leadership Group, mental health in construction focus groups and it contributed to the research in the 2017 government’s Thriving at Work: the Stephenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers’.

Following the success of the Time to Talk day in 2017, Laing O’Rourke designed and implemented an in-house mental health training programme which has increased its mental health champions to 105. In April, the company achieved a Silver Award in the Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index for ongoing commitment to creating a positive culture around mental health and for supporting employee wellbeing.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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C M Williams
C M Williams
5 years ago

That’s hugely positive – I will continue to try and persuade managers of the value of physical wellbeing in boosting retention, productivity, mindfulness and injury prevention. More power to you Laing O’Rourke