Nine in 10 construction PMs say work harmed their mental health

Image: Dreamstime/Clare Jackson

The majority (93%) of project managers in construction say their mental wellbeing has been negatively impacted by their main project, a new survey has found.

The results of the sounding of 1,000 construction professionals by the Association for Project Management (APM), the chartered body for the project profession, with research company Censuswide, have been released ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 (10 – 16 May).

Over a quarter (27%) of respondents strongly agreed that their mental wellbeing had been affected by their main project.

The main reasons construction project professionals cited for why their project has negatively impacted them are:

  • ‘My work-life balance is suffering due to this project’ (40% of respondents)
  • ‘This project is impacting my home life and personal relationships’ (40%)
  • ‘There are unrealistic expectations placed on me by project stakeholders’ (39%)
  • There is insufficient opportunity for me to voice concerns to my superiors (37%)

APM’s survey findings also highlighted the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, revealing that 84% of project practitioners working in construction have been negatively affected in their ability to do their job. Respondents who agreed that the pandemic had negatively impacted them cited reduced confidence among investors or stakeholders (38%), important meetings or phone calls being cancelled or postponed (36%) and difficulty adapting to remote working (33%) as the main reasons.

But there were some positives to mental health and wellbeing have also been uncovered by APM’s study. The majority of project practitioners in construction (81%) say that their employer has introduced new initiatives during the pandemic to support the wellbeing of staff.

These initiatives include schemes such as mental health first aiders, dedicated wellness days, allocating work time for social online gatherings and increased flexible working. A third (33%) of construction project professionals say mental health support training for managers has been the most positive organisational change during the coronavirus pandemic.

Debbie Dore, chief executive of APM, said: “These continue to be challenging times, and many people in the project profession have been impacted for reasons beyond their control. It’s essential that project professionals continue to be properly supported so they can deliver positive change for the people, businesses and communities they serve.

“It’s encouraging to see that employers in the construction industry are taking the mental health of their employees seriously.

“As the chartered body for the project profession, APM has implemented and established new ways of working that are showing benefits to both our staff and the stakeholder groups we interact with. We’ve been working closely with our corporate partners to encourage them to do the same and share best practice . Working with the mental health charity Mind, we’ve also published a free-to-access mental health toolkit for project managers and their employers.”

The project manager mental health toolkit can be downloaded here.

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