CIRAS spoke to Skanska’s Head of Occupational Health and Wellbeing Tricia O’Neill about their approach to health and wellbeing. Tricia shares her advice on how to implement a successful programme.   

Skanska’s ‘Mental Health Ambassadors’ programme featured in our ‘Putting Health back into Health and Safety’ events in November. Click here to see the video.

What’s your biggest health and wellbeing challenge and what are you doing about it?

Whether due to issues outside work such as having a new born baby, or work-related, fatigue can make us less productive and put our health and safety at risk.  We’re raising awareness of the impact fatigue can have both personally and to the business, and we’re publishing new guidance this year.  However, tackling fatigue is not just about policy – it’s about recognising it as a real issue for people in their daily lives. 

What advice would you give CIRAS members wanting to implement a health and wellbeing programme?

Not everyone will have the means to establish their own health and wellbeing programme, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  Ask clients if your staff can access their initiatives and look out for free resources delivered by charities and trade bodies.  For example, we offered our suppliers a half day to help them establish their own mental wellbeing programme.  Use Google to see what’s out there.

How do you encourage Skanska staff to engage with the health and wellbeing programme?

First, it’s important to get your senior leadership on board by showing the benefits of the programme.  Staff health and wellbeing affects the company bottom line.  Be mindful of how people have access to health and wellbeing information, so use a range of channels to engage staff.  Look beyond digital media to avoid excluding staff who don’t have internet access: we’re developing a network of Health and Wellbeing Champions, drawn from across the business, to provide information to colleagues.

How can you measure the success of a health and wellbeing programme?

It will take three to five years before you really see the benefits, and that can be off-putting.  But behaviour can begin to change in four to six months, for example has your healthier eating initiative led to colleagues eating more fruit?   There’s a lot of research showing that a healthier workforce will result in lower absence, better engagement and higher productivity.  It’s a long game but ultimately, you’ll make your company a better place to work.  If employees recognise that you care about them they are more likely to stay. 

What’s the best piece of safety advice you have been given?

Always try to do the right thing in safety, even if no one is watching you.  Behaving in a safe manner becomes part of who you are, and you lead by example. 

For more information about health and wellbeing at Skanska contact Tricia at