Antecedents to mental health symptoms in the Australian construction industry
conference contributionposted on 2017-01-01, 00:00 authored by Riza Sunindijo, Imriyas KamardeenImriyas Kamardeen
The construction industry is the third largest industry in Australia, employing about 9% of Australian workforce. Despite this important contribution to the national economy, the industry is notorious for excessive work stress that is counter-productive. Construction professionals are subjected to a range of stressors at work that have negative impacts on their mental wellbeing, which in turn adversely affects individual and organisational performance. Moreover, psychological stress and burnout have been found to be predictors of accidents and primary reasons for construction personnel leaving the industry, particularly women. Ensuring an optimum stress level is crucial for stimulating individual and organisational performance. Understanding the sources of work-related stress is a pre-requisite for developing any strategies that would enable organisations to maintain an acceptable level of work stress. Hence, this research aimed to discover stress factors facing construction professionals. Data were collected from 277 construction professionals throughout Australia using an online survey. Factor analysis of the data identified 30 stressors that can be categorised into seven dimensions: nature of work, physical work conditions, organisational factors, economic factors, security, ethics, and personal factors. Stressors within the nature of work dimension are the highest contributors of work stress among construction professionals. The findings indicate that optimising work stress cannot be achieved by one or few organisations; it can only be achieved through a collective effort of the entire industry in adjusting the work norms. Limiting the task to a few organisations is likely to disadvantage them as they will be compelled to operate against the work norms of the industry, which may eventually lead to their demise. The change also requires the cooperation and involvement of influential stakeholders of the industry, such as the government, major construction clients, large construction organisations and construction industry associations.