Episode One of the HIES and National Home Improvement Council new mental health and wellbeing podcast series now available

Mental health support in the industry for tradespeople: why are mental health issues prevalent in our sector; what are the effects on productivity and business; what support is out there?”. This is the title for Episode One of the new six-part special mental health and well-being podcast series brought to you by HIES and the National Home Improvement Council (NHIC). This is the first podcast series to delve deeper into our specific industry’s pressing mental health and wellbeing challenges, and with the help of experts, offer insight and support.

In this first episode, Hannah Vickers, Chief of Staff at MACE Group and Head of Productivity at the Construction Leadership Council, talks with Faisal Hussain, HIES Chief Executive about how mental health and well-being impact productivity in the sector.

Rethinking the definition of productivity

For a podcast on productivity, it made sense that the starting point for Faisal and Hannah was to explore exactly what productivity is and the results were thought-provoking. Hannah makes the point that we should not always just view productivity through a financial lens. There is a far bigger definition which involves thinking beyond turnover or profit only, to really understand the mental, physical and financial costs of delivering works, materials, skills, accreditation, training and adding value. Faisal agreed that the first step for anyone struggling with a poor work-life balance is to take a step back, and really look at what their objective is. Not all new business is the right business; not all customers are the right customers and often, going for growth only is a big driver for mental stress. Hannah also made the interesting point that from the get-go, our sector is such a visible one – it doesn’t get more under the spotlight than working in people’s homes which can often mean we’re the first to get hit by bad press and negative views. This close and constant scrutiny provides a perfect storm for mental health struggles and added pressure which other sectors don’t have.

Strategies around enhancing productivity

Hannah and Faisal then discuss helpful strategies for enhancing productivity from a position of strong self-awareness about what you want to achieve. It’s often a case of prioritisation and good organisation, taking the time to plan projects properly rather than chasing your tail constantly to deliver, forcing multiple unnecessary visits to site; double working; errors creeping in and the stress of complaints. There is also so much help available that we can get from technology and adopting the principles of lean construction, but you need to give yourself the headspace to research and take on new information. Hannah also commented that we shouldn’t underestimate the value of young people or apprentices and we shouldn’t be scared or threatened by them. They are digital natives. Faisal made the great point that people working in construction and home improvements tend to naturally be problem solvers by nature. Plan and prepare and you will perform.

Thoughts for the future

As if we don’t have enough on our plates as a sector, the challenges facing us, especially when it comes to decarbonisation works and retrofit are massive. If many businesses are already at capacity now, asking for a further 60,000 heat pumps to be installed is simply not realistic. This is where we need to take a stand, go back to the beginning about what we’re trying to achieve for our businesses, and let ourselves know it’s ok sometimes not to be ok.

HIES Chief Executive, Faisal Hussain, concludes,

“Rewind even five years, it was not ok to say you weren’t ok, so I’ve personally been encouraged to see how much mental health and wellbeing have become more comfortable topics of conversation in our sector. We may not have totally broken down the taboo, but we’ve certainly started to chip away at it, something that HIES is determined to continue to do. I’ve always said if these podcasts help just one person, then our job is done. And I’d like to leave the last words to an installer who contacted us recently to say that after 40 plus years in the industry, he finally understands that he is struggling with burnout. He called to thank us for bringing light to this topic. He had been ignoring the way he was feeling and now he has the knowledge and confidence to understand it and do something about it.”

Future episodes being released weekly feature more esteemed including Martin Lockham from Mates in Mind; George Jones from Cahill Renewables; Tony Steel from Band of Builders; GP Dr Rachel Cooper MBBS MRCGP; and Greg Jenkinson, from Step Change.

The series running throughout Autumn coincides with Suicide Prevention Month during September and depression and mental health awareness month in October, and is available here:


“If you are reading this and struggling now, regardless of whether you’re a HIES member or not, we urge you to reach out for confidential 24/7 support by texting HARDHAT on 85258.”