Mental Health Training in the KAEFER Group


Keep­ing our health in mind

Men­tal health is­n’t just a mod­ern buzzword, it’s a real is­sue that af­fects all of us in one way or an­other. KAEFER is put­ting men­tal well-be­ing at the top of the agenda and tak­ing steps to ad­dress this chal­lenge.

The way we work has un­der­gone tre­mend­ous changes in a re­l­at­ively short time. In ad­di­tion to the shifts to­wards work­ing re­motely we’ve seen just over the last year and a half, we’ve also ex­per­i­enced changes in how di­gital tech­no­logy fa­cil­it­ates work­ing as much with our minds as we do with our hands. On top of that, work on site has be­come even more chal­len­ging as a res­ult of new hy­giene meas­ures and reg­u­la­tions. Those are just some of the reas­ons why it has be­come even more im­port­ant to con­sider the men­tal health and well-be­ing of a work­force.

Step changes in safety

Re­gard­less of whether it’s on a con­struc­tion site, at an in­dus­trial fa­cil­ity, in a cor­por­ate or a home of­fice, safety is para­mount. To provide for the well-be­ing of each in­di­vidual at KAEFER, there needs to be a cul­ture of safety at the com­pany. “I would even take the concept of a safety cul­ture one step fur­ther,” says Thomas Eick­hoff Head of Cor­por­ate Health, Safety & En­vir­on­ment, “it needs to be em­bed­ded within the cul­ture of the or­gan­isa­tion it­self, so that it’s an in­teg­ral part of everything we do.” This has been achieved over time at KAEFER, by mak­ing im­prove­ments over the last sev­eral years to con­tinu­ously re­duce down­time as well as ac­ci­dent levels.

It’s good to talk

“Su­per­fi­cially, health and safety may look like a num­bers game, but it’s really about much more than just facts and fig­ures,” Eick­hoff ex­plains. “Yes, we’ve done well in terms of re­du­cing ac­ci­dents and in­cid­ents, but es­pe­cially when it comes to men­tal health, fos­ter­ing dia­logue and con­tinu­ously col­lect­ing and act­ing upon feed­back is not just im­port­ant but demon­strat­ively be­ne­fi­cial.” At KAEFER in the UK & Ire­land, for ex­ample, so-called ‘Men­tal Health First Aid­ers’ have been in­tro­duced, who act as a first point of call for em­ploy­ees that may be strug­gling. This ini­ti­at­ive has been so well re­ceived by staff that it is be­ing im­ple­men­ted across KAEFER in Europe and bey­ond. The month of May, 2021 will see a series of men­tal health ‘train the train­er’ ses­sions in Ger­many, Spain and Po­land, be­fore be­ing rolled out glob­ally. All of these work­shops and the as­so­ci­ated train­ing ma­ter­i­als are tailored to the cul­tural sens­it­iv­it­ies of vari­ous mar­kets, provid­ing for the highest levels of in­clus­iv­ity. These meas­ures raise aware­ness of the im­pacts men­tal health have and con­trib­ute to­wards a cul­ture of open­ness and dia­logue about is­sues that have of­ten not been given the at­ten­tion they de­serve.

‘Train the trainer’ online meeting of HSE colleagues

Opening up over a virtual cup of tea

“In times of COVID, that per­sonal touch is more im­port­ant than ever,” Eick­hoff stresses. “A safety cul­ture is built within in­di­vidu­als and needs us to con­sider health hol­ist­ic­ally. That’s why I per­son­ally find it es­sen­tial to sit down with the people I work with for a vir­tual cup of tea and ask how they are feel­ing.” After a year of manual la­bour wear­ing  masks or work­ing re­motely, this is surely a wel­come ques­tion. And it ties in to the KAEFER share­hold­ers’ com­mit­ment to do any­thing it takes to en­sure the health and well­being of its work­force. From the top down, it is im­port­ant not just to un­der­stand the im­pact men­tal health has upon in­di­vidu­als, but also to learn how we can be open to dis­cuss­ing these is­sues and re­cog­nising the signs when people be­gin to struggle.

Keep­ing people healthy and happy is key to keep­ing people at the com­pany. It’s that simple. And de­vel­op­ing an en­vir­on­ment in which men­tal health in par­tic­u­lar is fostered goes a long way in achiev­ing that. We’ve all been through a great deal of chal­lenges over the past 18 months and that’s why re­cog­ni­tion and ac­tion to im­prove our men­tal well-be­ing could­n’t have come at a bet­ter time.