CHARISSA BLOOMBERG With all the problems that the construction industry faces, a site psychologist can play a supportive role in training, coaching and mentoring, as well as putting the right teams together
The pressure of operating in a global economy necessitates that South Africa aims for perfection in construction projects undertaken, which brings with it a host of challenges, says corporate training consultancy Hidden Dimensions CEO and on-site psychologist Charissa Bloomberg.
She points out that one of the major challenges in the construction business is to complete any project on time and within budget, and this requires high morale and high productivity from crews.
“In today’s market, it seems as if companies want the job done better, faster and with better materials, but at lower costs. However, projects challenge ingenuity as they become more complex, larger and higher.”
To perform up to this high standard, Bloomberg notes that construction professionals need to be aware of and grow their emotional intelligence, which entails managing emotions, handling construction site pressures and communicating properly.
“Working conditions or how management handles staff, for example, can impact negatively on workers and subsequently make them less productive, impacting on project progress and standards.”
Bloomberg says staff in leadership positions should be especially aware of their emotional intelligence to deal effectively with employee issues, thereby showing not only good leadership but also creating a willingness in others to follow.
Emotional intelligence capacity in employees or leaders involves understanding strengths and challenges, which can impact positively on the whole team; allows for assertive work instead of aggressive work; and helps with stress management, improved decision-making and impulse control.
“In the construction business, there is a moral and ethical responsibility to protect the lives of employees and to construct projects safely.”
Although Bloomberg has provided on-site training and emotional awareness evaluations for major construction, engineering and mining companies across South Africa, she says companies are often still reluctant to undertake emotional awareness tests or training, owing to a reluctance to believe that it can affect a project’s progress, and to an indifference to workers’ mental health.
However, leaving these issues unaddressed can lead to health and safety issues because of deteriorating health and wellness, ultimately resulting in more sick-leave days because of toxic and stressful work environments that do not accommodate personal wellbeing. It could also lead to labour unrest, owing to conflict with management.
“With all the problems that the industry faces, a site psychologist can play a hugely supportive role in training, coaching and mentoring, as well as putting the right teams together,” concludes Bloomberg.