Welfare units and vans provide the backbone of a happy and healthy construction site. But with so many products on the market, it can be difficult to know which will best serve your particular site’s needs.
In this article, we explore four key factors you should consider before choosing a welfare unit:
It would be nice if money were no object. But for most projects there is a limited budget – and that means you have to be strategic with how you spend. Mobile welfare units vary in price, and it’s important to make a cost-benefit analysis to ensure you don’t under-or-overspend.
There may, for example, be gains to be made from hiring a more expensive welfare unit that will more than cover the cost. There may also be hidden costs to cheaper models, if they do not include service or support.
It’s also worth considering whether you need a full welfare unit – would a welfare van serve you just as well? This may be a way of spending more efficiently without cutting back on quality, as well as increasing the flexibility of your worksite.
Questions to ask:
How much can you afford to spend on a welfare unit or van?
What do you expect to get for your money?
What is included in the price of the welfare unit or van?
2. Employee needs
Welfare units exist primarily to meet the needs of your employees. And given that every workforce has slightly differing needs, it’s important to consider what your specific team will benefit from – as well as the actual size of the team.
Some welfare units – such as our ECO10 Welfare Unit (for up to 10 people) – features far more space and provides better quality facilities than others. Determining whether your employees will benefit from better access to hot water or more comfortable seating is important before making a hiring decision.
Questions to ask:
How much space do you require?
What facilities do you require?
Will you benefit from improving employee wellbeing?
As sites are more heavily scrutinised for their sustainability, the quality of technology they use must improve. Many welfare units are built on inefficient technology, and therefore actively hinder efforts to make your site more sustainable.
More modern technology, however, can be an active benefit. Take our ECOXLI Unit: it makes use of next generation lithium cell batteries and solar technology, minimising the need for generator power. It also operates an intelligent auto system for full telemetry, so you can guarantee it only uses power when necessary.
Questions to ask:
What kind of power does your welfare unit or van run on?
How modern is the fleet you are hiring from?
What are your sustainability goals and will this welfare unit help meet them?
Mobile welfare units require regular maintenance, and bringing in a third-party expert to administer this can be costly and time consuming. It’s vital therefore to consider what level of support the company you are hiring from provides.
At Welfare Hire, we pride ourselves on offering comprehensive 24/7 support, as well as scheduling regular maintenance and checkups. This ensures your mobile welfare units are always in great condition, and any issues are resolved as quickly as possible.
Questions to ask:
Is support included?
If so, how much support and of what quality?
What are the costs of disruptions if you do not have comprehensive support?
The outlook is positive for construction in 2022. Experts currently project that output will bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.¹ And with the government pledging £12 billion for infrastructure, as well as the £4.8 billion “levelling up” fund, demand for high-quality construction projects looks sure to continue growing.²
But there are still many challenges ahead of us – from finding suitable workers to ensuring our projects are truly sustainable. In this article, we explore five of the key challenges that will define the coming year:
1. The skills gap
As Brexit has reduced the UK’s talent pool and a high level of employee churn, the construction industry faces a serious crisis. According to recent reports, the sector will need 216,800 new workers by 2025 to meet current demand levels.³
In 2022, we will see new initiatives to bring young workers into the industry, including a continuation of the wage increases we’ve seen in 2021.⁴ But solving the problem will likely require more than this, and leaders should focus not just on financial rewards but the actual workplace culture they create onsite.
A shortage of skilled workers is construction specialists’ number one concern for 2022.⁵
2. Greater attention on the work environment
Throughout the pandemic, a new level of attention has been paid to the quality of employee experience. Employees are less willing to work under poor conditions and expect greater support from their employers. A recent report, for example, demanded an industry-wide ‘mental health dashboard’ to support workers in the construction industry.⁶
In 2022, we will see efforts to address this problem continue. This will include a greater investment in employee wellbeing initiatives, as well better on site welfare units to provide much needed support.
More than seven in 10 construction companies do not measure the mental wellbeing of their staff.⁷
3. Reimagining the supply chain
The twin forces of Brexit and COVID-19 have produced price increases in the supply chain, as well as some very well publicised disruptions. Vital materials like timber and bricks have seen rapid price increases across 2021, and experts suggest these problems will continue well into the new year.⁸
Ultimately, as supply chain issues have hindered growth for the industry, companies will have to rethink the way they source vital materials in 2022.
Nearly 8 in 10 construction businesses have absorbed higher input prices in 2021.⁹
4. The innovation gap
Innovation is the key to delivering more effective and efficient projects. But many in the industry still lag behind in this regard, as we explored in our recent research. And this has led to a widening ‘innovation gap’ between companies that use cutting-edge technology – and those that don’t.
2022 will be a tipping point, where businesses that do embrace innovative technology gain an unassailable lead in quality.
In recent years, the number of construction businesses actively innovating has fallen by 11%.¹⁰
5. Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainability has become a major concern for the construction industry in recent years, and there is still a very long way to go in terms of ensuring projects have a positive impact on both communities and the environment.
The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a clear blueprint for the changes that are necessary, and the issues it raises will define not just 2022 but the entire future.
As a company that prides itself on providing mobile welfare units and welfare vans that make a positive impact, we believe it’s vital that we take a lead on issues like this and help our industry become more conscious – and more effective – when it comes to sustainability.
So in the coming months, we will launch a long-form content series exploring each of these goals in detail.
According to recent research, 49% of construction workers experience work-related stress.¹ The industry now has the highest rates of employee burnout in the UK², and many experts suggest serious changes are needed before it’s too late.
This is exactly why International Stress Awareness Week is so vital. It helps shed light on the need for radical change in the industry’s workplace cultures. And at Welfare Hire, we believe it is our responsibility to support contractors in making this change happen.
In this article, we explore three ways our innovative mobile welfare units help reduce stress and transform the onsite environment.
1. More space for workers
The construction site is a tough environment, and many workers feel they don’t have the time or space to let off steam in a healthy way. This leads to pent up frustrations and anxiety; combined with physically gruelling work and long shifts, the result can be extreme stress.
Giving workers more space to decompress – and communicate with each other safely – is therefore vital. Our X-Eco10 mobile welfare units provide 20% more internal space than other welfare units, fitting up to 10 people. They are also fitted with comfortable seating, to allow workers to rest properly during their downtime.
2. Improved facilities
Access to great facilities is vital to feeling in control at work. Workers should always feel secure in the knowledge that they can stay clean; have privacy when necessary; and get the provisions they need to stay alert and happy at work.
The X-Eco10 features canteen facilities with controlled heating, mains power and USB ports to create a better environment for colleague wellbeing. There is also on-demand hot running water; separate drying and changing rooms; and a fully functioning work office.
3. Signalling care
Much of the stress that construction workers feel is a result not just of workplace conditions, but of feeling that their wellbeing is not sufficiently valued. Workers feel they cannot talk openly about their struggles, and that is because they are often being sent the wrong signals.
While relatively straightforward to implement, things like temporary traffic lights, signs and Investing in better welfare units may seem like a relatively small step. But introducing facilities specifically designed to create a more open and positive environment for them onsite unquestionably shows that you value their wellbeing.
Reducing stress and increasing your bottom line
While tackling workplace stress is vital, there is also a clear business case for investing in better welfare.
55% of all absenteeism is caused by work-related mental health problems.³ Between 2017-18, stressful conditions resulted in 400,000 lost days of work in the construction industry.⁴
So reducing workplace stress and increasing mental wellbeing will not only make your employees happier – it will lead to increased productivity and a more positive workplace culture.
Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farmis dedicated to helping the city’s most disadvantaged children. They provide opportunities to have fun, learn and take respite from the often extremely difficult circumstances of their everyday lives.
4Louissupports anyone affected by miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of a baby or child. They fight for better treatment and resources for bereaved families, as well as providing the tools and equipment necessary to make that treatment happen.
Yorkshire Air Ambulanceis a dedicated helicopter emergency air ambulance for Yorkshire and the Humber. This rapid-response service has saved millions of lives, relying solely on donations from individuals and organisations.
Getting the message out there
Alongside ongoing events and fundraising initiatives supported by our colleagues, partners and friends of the business, we have also created a dedicated Charity Welfare Unit to raise awareness and funds.
Our Charity Welfare represents the latest in modern ECO mobile welfare facilities and will be used on projects across the UK, reaching a variety of infrastructure and construction sites. The unique and eye-catching design will be exposed to clients, customers, and anyone passing by.
We’ve also found a fun and engaging way to help spread awareness and raise support: by providing scannable QR codes that bring users to a page where they can donate to each charity and find out more about their missions.
The unit incorporates the charities’ logos, and all funds raise through partnering with our partners on the hire of this unit, alongside additional initiatives and donations via the QR codes will go directly to the charities.
But this is only the beginning. We have numerous plans to further our support for these important causes in the coming months. And we can’t wait to share them with our community