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As a woman, being asked to write a piece on men’s health, I initially wondered what I would contribute. However, as owner and director of a business in a predominantly male environment in a male heavy sector – I wasn’t too offended by it. At Seddon, our goal is to create an open culture where employees understand that it is ‘okay not to be okay.’ We recognised early on that working at 70% capacity because you cannot afford to take time off work is not beneficial to anyone’s health or advantageous to Seddon as a business.


Construction contributes over £110billion to the UK economy each year, providing almost 3 million jobs. The impact on revenue due to absence at work would cause significant harm to the business if employees were consistently feeling burned out and without a support system in place to help them to stay well at work. If there is one advantage to emerge from COVID19, it is the learning curve that shows us it is okay to have time off when you’re sick. Lockdown and isolation gave us no choice but to look at this and run with it in the sense that we could take further opportunity to improve our health initiatives and support for our employees.


Creating our culture

After our colleague Jordan Bibby took his own life in 2017 and fighting my own battle with breast cancer, it became apparent that there was still a stigma surrounding mental and physical ill-health. Following the loss of Jordan, we launched Jordan’s Conversation with Mates in Mind, a mental health charity with sector specific support for construction. Jordan’s conversation is a toolbox talk supported by an internal team of Mental Health First Aiders.


Women talk more openly about their health concerns, which is why women’s cancer health statistics, especially early diagnosis is moving in the right direction, but there remains a taboo for men to talk about their health issues and to share stories, and no one talks about “poo”! That is what I wanted - to get people talking about their health and create a positive and inclusive environment. Men and women are different, we don’t need to read Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus to know that, but women can help men open up about their health.


It is vital to me to break down barriers at Seddon and start honest conversations about health whilst implementing resources that support individuals to become further aware of their health needs, consequently becoming better at taking care of their self. Jordan’s conversation has truly evolved into a topic that encompasses all aspects of health and wellbeing. With men reporting lower levels of life satisfaction than women according to the Government’s national wellbeing survey and only 36% of NHS talking therapy referrals being for men, it suited our objective to create an environment where men felt comfortable to talk.

Some of the steps we have taken to support staff are:

  • All employees are paid enhanced sick pay
  • Regular medical assessments for everyone no matter what role or level.
  • An affordable private healthcare cash plan that covers sixty-one of the most needed surgeries in the UK such as hip and knee replacements
  • Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is regularly highlighted within business and to our supply chain, encouraging anyone to seek advice if they are struggling
  • Utilizing occupational health for those returning from long term sick
  • Working with qualified healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists to implement work adaptations where necessary

These have all shown to be effective methods of supporting our staff and increasing their productivity and wellbeing.


Educating our employees

Seddon have balanced reactive initiatives such as our Employee Assistance Program and Personal Medical Insurances with proactive support like cash plan, health assessments and health education. We use our staff Intranet – The Hub & Yammer, to communicate and educate on health and wellbeing with a section on men’s health which links directly to the BUPA website where employees can access up to date health information.

Through Acorn and Nuffield, we gathered health assessment information to create monthly health campaigns. Our plan covers topics from smoking cessation, vision, stress, alcohol consumption, and more – inclining specific industry issues like hand arm vibration, muscular skeletal and lung health. This allows us to signpost support and facts through our digital screens on our sites in offices. We also run campaigns to bring awareness to commonly stigmatised conditions such as testicular cancer and depression.

For example, our infographics detail how to check yourself for signs of cancer and where to go to seek further advice.


How have our initiatives helped?

Our health initiatives have shown impressive results in improving our employee’s physical health, which has had a positive impact on mental health too. We have seen over the years employee’s mental health impacted by poor physical health, so helping our teams to look after themselves and each other is a win-win. We have a low rate of absenteeism and with our enhanced access to healthcare we have been able to catch illnesses and ailments in staff quickly which have led to a full recovery.

A recent example of this is in 2020 bricklayer Rob Parry attended his routine occupational health assessment where he was advised by his health physician to book an appointment with his optician after concerns with the vision is his left eye. Rob followed this advice and was diagnosed with a condition that could cause blindness within 5 years. Thankfully due to our health screening process, Rob received treatment and made a full recovery.


Advice to other employers

My advice to other employers is to focus on people, but not only what you can see (reactive support) but what you cannot see (proactive support). If you provide people with the resources and the education to look after themselves, they are far more likely to take ownership and responsibility. Be health pro-active, take steps to deep dive into employee health and understand what is important to them. Use health records productively to implement campaigns that truly support individuals to thrive in the workplace.

Strike a balance between supporting your employees and encouraging them to take ownership and responsibility for their own mental and physical health. Create a culture where it is #OkayNotToBeOkay but make sure that you put proactive and reactive support in place – one doesn’t work without the other.



By providing education and resources to all employees to enhance their ability to look after their self, we encourage transparency and open conversation about physical and mental health. Through becoming increasingly health pro-active we have been able to strike a balance between providing access to improved health services and encouraging employees to improve their overall health and wellbeing to prevent future injury and illness.



Seddon Construction provide specialist services for the construction and maintenance of new and existing properties both residential and commercial.

They are a family-owned and managed business with a history spanning over 120 years and five generations of the Seddon Family.