Mindfulness in the construction industry

Could Mindfulness be the answer to how we attract and retain a more focused, level headed, empathetic workforce in the construction industry?

With more than 230,000 new construction jobs predicted in the UK over the next five years, it certainly promotes a more supportive, nurturing culture.

The general perception of the UK construction industry has long been seen as a highly charged, male dominated and sexist environment, a recent survey carried out by the CITB highlighted that three-quarters of employers think the industry is still perceived as sexist.

So taking this into account, how does the Construction industry bridge the skills gap and change the culture perception.

The key is to start the change within the organisations themselves, promoting a more flexible working environment that supports the wellbeing of their employees. To introduce initiatives such as mindfulness that develop the skills to cope better with stress in demanding working environments and encourage an empathetic, supportive culture which is essential in attracting and retaining a committed and productive workforce.

Mindfulness, to those who have little or no real knowledge of it, can often view it as the latest fad, and they are not aware of the fact that this ‘hype’ is backed up by hard science.

So what is Mindfulness? Well it is not new, it is part of what makes us human, the capacity to be fully conscious and aware.

Mindfulness training helps us develop an awareness to our inner and outer experience. It helps us recognise the connection between, thought patterns, physical body sensations and habitual reaction and when we have a deep understand how we react to events pleasant and unpleasant it opens us up to choice.  It helps us recognise that our thoughts are just thoughts and not to be a slave to them. We can choose how we respond rather than react in a way that does not serve the event or us.

A recent study, Contemplating Mindfulness at Work, An integrative Review January 2016, highlighted the following:

Mindfulness appears to positively impact human functioning overall. Research in such disciplines as psychology, neuroscience and medicine provide a wealth of evidence that mindfulness improves attention, cognition, emotions, behaviour and physiology.

Specifically, mindfulness has shown to improve three qualities of attention – stability, control and efficiency. The human mind is estimated to wander roughly half of our waking hours, but mindfulness can stabilise attention in the present, Individuals who completed mindfulness training were shown to remain vigilant longer on both visual and listening tasks.

Although mindfulness is an individual quality, initial evidence suggests that it affects interpersonal behaviour and workgroup relationships.

Mindfulness improves through greater empathy and compassion – suggesting mindfulness training could enhance workforce processes that rely on effective leadership and teamwork.

Organisations such as Google, Apple, Ebay, Unilever have all introduced mindfulness training to improve workforce functioning,

So, Why not the construction industry. Well, actually there are a small and growing number of organisation who are introducing initiative such as this and Network Homes is one of the organisations leading the way.

Fiona Deal, Executive Director of People and Culture at Network Homes said:

“Mindfulness is part of a comprehensive programme of well being initiatives we offer to practically support the wellbeing and personal development of staff. Not only is it popular with staff but it brings significant benefits to Network Homes. Developing a more self aware, calm and clear headed team has got to be good thing!”

Ann-Marie McLeod, Mindfulness teacher and facilitator of eight week Mindfulness Programmes at www.embracingmeditation.com, said:

“The research puts the benefits of mindfulness in the work place under the spotlight. When you are mindful, you are more conscious and considered, good quality decisions require you to be level headed and non-biased. This is an important skill in an ever changing, challenging working landscape.”

Network homes recruited the help of Ann-Marie McLeod to introduce the 8 week programme into their Wembley Office and the success has been impressive, many participates praising the initiative and its benefits. It is now been rolled out into their Herford Office.

Vicky Savage, Executive Director of Development at Network homes, said:

“ I have attended the Mindfulness sessions lead by Ann-Marie McLeod and found them life changing both professionally and personally. Mindfulness brings a sense of calm and promotes good ‘cool headed’ commercial judgments in a fast paced business environment. My general well-being and health has been greatly improved by incorporating Mindfulness practice into my daily life. I would urge anyone, especially those of us who like me thought I was ‘too busy’ for Mindfulness to give it a try. The benefits for me were immediate and long lasting.”

So could Mindfulness training be the answer to all the woes of construction industry, probably not. However, its certainly a step in the right direction towards a more unified, productive and happier workforce.

For further information on the eight week Mindfulness programmes email: info(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)embracingmeditation.com