Adapting Business Practices for an Aging Workforce

Many employers worry about how to attract and retain Gen Z and Millennials, but what about the older workforce?

According to a study by Bain & Company, by 2030 around 150 million jobs will shift to workers over 55, accounting for a quarter of the workforce. Moreover, Pew Research reports that the number of older workers has nearly quadrupled since the mid-1980s.

With fewer young people entering the workforce, an aging population, and the age of retirement trending up (41% of Americans now expect to work beyond 65), employers and HR departments must prepare for the expected impacts.

In this blog, we explore the challenges posed by an aging workforce, best practices for integrating older workers, and more.

The Economic and Social Drivers

A multigenerational team collaborating in an office.

The employment rate among older workers has gradually increased since the mid-1990s. Presently, nearly 20% of adults aged 65 and above are employed. Furthermore, the number of workers aged 75 and above has increased more than four times since 1964, making them the fastest-growing age group in the workforce.

Factors that have contributed to this aging workforce include:

  • Higher education levels:  According to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, older Americans today have higher levels of education, which increases their likelihood of finding employment compared to previous years.
  • Healthier populations: Older individuals have improved health and lower disability rates than before, enabling more of them to continue working. In addition, working later in life can have positive effects on health and well-being.
  • Lower fertility rates: Declining fertility rates have resulted in a labor supply shortage. According to a 2022 U.S. Census study, fertility rates for women between 20 and 24 have decreased by 42% since 1990. This decrease in birth rates has caused a decline in the number of younger individuals entering the workforce. In 2023, only 55% of individuals aged between 16 and 24 were employed, compared to 77.5% in 1989. As a result, there are now more opportunities for older individuals to remain active in the labor market.
  • Changing nature of work: In the past, older workers had limited job opportunities due to physical limitations. However, with the advancement of technology and changes in the economy, there are now opportunities that favor cognitive and analytical skills rather than manual labor. As per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this shift has enabled more Americans to continue working despite age-related health limitations. 
  • Retirement age is ticking up: In 1983, the government increased the full retirement age, delaying the collection of Social Security benefits until the age of 67 for those born in 1960. This legislation had a significant financial impact on many Americans, spurring many individuals to remain in the workplace longer.
  • Retirement plans have evolved: The transition from traditional pension plans that encourage individuals to retire at the age of 65 to the present 401(k) plans that benefit higher-income workers has resulted in Americans working for longer periods. According to statistics, only 10% of individuals between the ages of 62 and 70 are financially secure and retired. Most of them continue to work either because they enjoy their jobs or because they cannot afford to retire.

Challenges Posed by an Aging Workforce

An aging workforce presents a wide variety of challenges for employers and HR leaders:

  • Physical challenges: Older workers in physically demanding jobs may face health and safety challenges. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 50% of older workers have physically demanding jobs, and 54% are exposed to unhealthy or hazardous conditions. These age-related risks can also have business impacts, including lost productivity, increased workers’ compensation claims, and absenteeism.
  • Negative stereotypes: Hiring managers and colleagues may perceive older workers as old-fashioned, less flexible, unhealthy, slow, unproductive, and resistant to change. Studies prove these stereotypes can negatively impact older workers’ identification with the company, feelings of belonging, self-esteem, access to developmental opportunities, and career satisfaction.
  • Higher absenteeism: Surprisingly, working Americans aged 55 years and older are much less likely than younger workers to be seriously injured enough to lose work time. But when they are injured, older workers typically require two weeks to recover before returning to work, twice the recuperation time younger workers need. 
  • Retirement risk: As the workforce ages, a time will come when older employees want to retire, leading to talent gaps that employers must fill. However, asking employees to delay retirement may not be practical. In such cases, employers should consider developing strategies to retain their top talent, regardless of their age. To support older workers, companies can offer flexible hours, hire retired workers as independent contractors, or provide phased retirement programs that allow older employees to transition from full-time to part-time jobs.
  • Knowledge loss: Aging workers have acquired decades of skills and experience. Even if they delay their retirement, employers must prepare for the inevitable and implement succession plans, such as mentor-protégé programs where older workers train younger ones. These programs can not only help transfer knowledge to the younger workers but also provide an opportunity for them to learn from the experience of their seasoned counterparts.

Best Practices for Integrating Older Workers

Many employers implement practices to integrate and support the aging workforce effectively and ensure they remain valuable assets to the organization, but much work remains. A survey by AARP (cited by Bain here)  found that fewer than 4% of employers have committed to programs that support a multi-generational workforce, and only 27% said they are “very likely” to explore them.

Below are some best practices for integrating older employees that can help close this gap and create high-quality jobs for an aging workforce.

Developing Age-Friendly Work Environments

Employees working at ergonomic workstations in a modern office.

A workplace that accommodates the needs of older employees is crucial for driving employee engagement and improving self-esteem, ensuring a healthy and safe workplace, boosting productivity, and ensuring business success.

One of the most important priorities for employers is to provide flexible working conditions for older employees. According to AARP, flexibility in terms of working hours, location, and job-protected time off is highly valued by older workers and is a significant factor in their job satisfaction. Flexible working conditions can encourage older employees to stay in the workforce longer and assist those with health conditions. 

Other accommodations for older workers include ensuring an ergonomic workplace. An ergonomic workplace can reduce employee injuries, minimize absenteeism, limit worker’s compensation claims, and ensure a productive workforce. Check out these workplace ergonomics best practices from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Functional Capacity Wellness Programs

A functional capacity wellness program can help evaluate and ensure workers are physically fit for their roles and are able to perform workplace tasks safely and without injury. Employers also benefit from a decrease in lost workdays and lower insurance costs.

Functional capacity wellness programs can comprise pre-employment, fit-for-duty, and return-to-work medical exams, medical surveillance, and wellness education and resources. In addition to assessing employees for medical conditions, these programs also assess physical capabilities, such as the ability to operate heavy machinery or lift heavy equipment. 

Retraining and Skill Development

Older employee receiving training on new technology.

Continuous education and retraining programs tailored to older workers, specifically those focused on technology and digital tools, can help empower older workers with vital skills and growth opportunities. Below are relevant training programs that can help older workers stay relevant in the job market and participate in ongoing learning opportunities.

Emphasizing Tech Skill Acquisition

According to Bain, 22% of workers aged 55 to 64 need more tech skills. Yet only half of older workers (55%) report completing job training of any type in the past five years. 

Reskilling and engaging older workers can ensure that companies have the necessary skills required to stay ahead of technological innovation. To achieve this, managers and supervisors should encourage participation in technology training across all age groups and not just focus on younger employees. 

Creating Lifelong Learning Opportunities

Older workers possess distinct learning styles and motivations that set them apart from younger generations. As the job-seeking population continues to diversify with age, HR leaders must implement a workforce development system that caters to their ongoing training and retraining needs. This system should focus on providing skills that align with the high-growth positions in the job market, while also addressing older workers’ desire for engaging work and competitive pay. 

To boost employee engagement, employers should evaluate the skills and experience of their older workers and create customized training programs to meet their specific requirements. Because experienced employees may not always find training exciting or necessary, offering incentives and rewards can be an effective way to motivate them. Furthermore, senior staff members can take charge of training sessions or mentor their younger colleagues, which can enhance teamwork and earn them the respect of their peers.

Policy and Organizational Changes for a Multigenerational Workforce

To create a more inclusive workplace that integrates older workers, it is important to implement policy and organizational changes that address their unique challenges. This can include initiatives such as flexible work arrangements, training and development programs that cater to older workers, and strategies to combat age discrimination. 

By taking these steps, organizations can effectively leverage the experience and expertise of older workers while also promoting diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. Consider the following:

Adjusting HR Policies

Implementing HR policies that cater to age diversity is crucial in creating a workplace that is inclusive to employees of all ages. 

To foster an inclusive environment for older workers, companies should develop and implement: 

  • Practices that prevent age discrimination.
  • Retirement options that are flexible and accommodating to employees at different stages of their careers.
  • Health benefits that are tailored to the needs of older employees. 

Fostering an Inclusive Culture

A study conducted by AARP revealed that 71% of older workers report higher levels of job satisfaction when their workplace respects and appreciates diverse perspectives and opinions and fosters an environment conducive to growth and development for all.

Indeed, evolving workplace demographics offer businesses an opportunity to harness the benefits of a multigenerational workforce, leveraging the unique skills and experiences of employees across different age groups.

Effective strategies include mentorship programs and promoting roles that leverage the experience of seasoned workers. For example, they may be ideal candidates for leadership or advisory positions that require a high degree of specialized knowledge. 

Furthermore, employers should consider providing older employees with engaging and stimulating work. While good compensation is a key motivator for workers below the age of 60, older workers prioritize interesting work as the top attribute. To attract and retain older employees, it’s important for employers to understand the workplace characteristics that they seek and what motivates them.

By recognizing and capitalizing on the strengths of older workers, organizations can create a more diverse and inclusive workplace that benefits everyone involved.

Conclusion: Future Outlook and Strategic Recommendations

The role of older workers in the workplace will continue to grow over the next decade. According to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, adults over 65 will represent more than 8% of the workforce, accounting for 57% of labor force growth. 

To remain competitive and inclusive, employers must adapt their business strategies to accommodate an aging workforce and leverage this demographic’s skills and experience. Best practices include flexible working conditions, workplace health and wellness programs, career development opportunities, and HR policies that support age diversity.

Acuity Can Help

At Acuity, we offer a range of employee health programs designed to help you integrate older employees into the workplace, including medical exams, physicals, wellness assessments, and more – all tailored to the unique needs and risks of your organization and employee population. Our services include:

Learn more about our comprehensive occupational health services or contact us today.

The Ultimate Guide to Workplace Exercises for Healthier Workdays: Office Exercises to Start Today!

Whether achieved through wellness programs, workplace safety initiatives, or similar efforts, employers can create healthy, happy, and productive workplaces. Indeed, research from workhuman and Gallup reveals that employee health and wellness reduces employee burnout and turnover, fosters higher levels of belonging, and other benefits. 

A healthy employee base also saves money and opportunity costs. Gallup estimates that companies lose more than $300 million from employee turnover and burnout and $20 million for every 10,000 workers due to struggling or suffering employees.

These numbers make a good argument for workplace wellness programs, but as an employee you can do your part to keep yourself healthy, too—even if you work at a desk 40 hours a week. Performing a few simple workplace exercises or office workouts every day can make a big difference in your health and well-being

Let’s explore 13 easy desk workouts and office exercises you can do from the comfort of your office. 

Getting Started with Office Workouts

Person performing desk pushups in an office

“I don’t have the time to work out” is a common refrain from many employees. The reality is that thanks in part to the proliferation of remote work, it’s become much easier for employees to find time to exercise, as they no longer have to worry about long commutes to and from an office.

Even if you work in a corporate office, you can make time for simple, fast, and effective exercises. All you need is a little bit of time management and a small amount of space in which to perform the following chair exercises, desk workouts, and other office exercises. 

Performing each of these a few times a week, for five to ten minutes at a time, can improve your strength, mood, flexibility, and attention span. When coupled with more rigorous exercises, you can easily achieve the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recommended amount of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

Chair or Desk-based Exercises

Office workers doing stretching exercises at their desks

You do not have to engage in full-on sprints to get exercise at work. Simple chair or desk-based exercises—including chair squats, desk pushups, and seated leg raises—are effective for strengthening muscles and getting blood flowing.

Chair Squats

To perform a chair squat:

  • Stand up from your chair with your hands clasped in front of you.
  • Slowly lower your body down until your buttocks are touching the seat behind you.
  • Immediately raise yourself back up into a standing position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Desk Pushups

To perform a desk pushup:

  • Place both hands on the edge of your desk, shoulder-length apart. Make sure the desk is sturdy enough to support your body weight.
  • Step back away from the desk.
  • Slowly lean forward, with the desk supporting you, into a plank position. Keep your core tight.
  • Push away from the desk until your arms are straight but not locked.
  • Repeat 10 – 20 times.

Seated Leg Raises

To perform seated leg raises:

  • Sit tall in your desk chair with your feet flat on the floor
  • Lift one leg until it’s parallel with the floor and straight in front of you. Be sure to contract your upper thigh muscles as you raise your leg.
  • Hold for one second, then slowly lower your leg back down.
  • Repeat 10 times with each leg.

Standing Exercises

Office worker meditating on a yoga mat

Leg muscles tend to atrophy when you sit at a desk most of the day. You can prevent this by performing wall sits, calf raises, and standing stretches—great workplace exercises that can help strengthen legs

Wall Sits

To perform a wall sit:

  • Stand up against a wall.
  • Slowly slide down the wall until your hips are level with your knees.
  • Hold the position for 30 – 60 seconds.
  • Slowly push yourself back up the wall.
  • Repeat 10 – 15 times.

Calf Raises

To perform a calf raise:

  • Stand up straight. Hold onto a desk or chair for balance if necessary.
  • Rise up to your toes. Hold that pose for a second.
  • Lower your toes back down to the floor.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Standing Stretches

There are several standing stretches you can try, including standing quadriceps stretches, standing hamstring stretches, and standing overhead side reaches.

To perform a standing quadriceps stretch:

  • In a standing position, place the tips of the fingers of one hand on your desk for support.
  • Bend the opposite leg and grab your ankle with your other hand.
  • Gently pull your heel toward your buttocks.
  • Hold the pose for a moment, then lower your leg back down to the floor.
  • Repeat 10 times. Then, switch sides and repeat 10 times with the other leg.

To perform a standing hamstring stretch:

  • Place your leg on your chair, heel down.
  • Lean forward and touch your toes with both hands.
  • Hold this pose for 30 seconds. Then, switch legs.

To perform a standing overhead side reach:

  • Stand up straight with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Place one hand at your side, touching your thigh.
  • Raise your opposite hand above your head, point your fingers toward the sky, and slowly lean toward the other side in an arc motion.
  • Keep leaning until you feel a slight tug in your torso.
  • Hold the position for 10 seconds. 
  • Return to your starting position and repeat on the other side.
  • Continue alternating for 10 repetitions.

Workplace Workout Routines

One of the most common reasons people do not exercise is lack of time. But you don’t need a lot of time to get in an effective workplace exercise. Explore these five- and ten-minute office workouts to see how just a few minutes out of an eight-hour day can help keep you in shape and pain-free

5-minute Office Workouts

This 5-minute office workout does not require any exercise equipment and is easy to do, even in smaller confined spaces. 

Shoulder circles

  • Stand up straight and extend both of your arms to your sides at shoulder height.
  • Slowly rotate your arms forward in a circular motion. Complete 10 full circles.
  • Then, rotate your arms backward in a circular motion. Complete 10 full circles.
  • Let your arms full straight. 
  • Repeat for three more repetitions.

Squats

  • Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms to the side.
  • Slowly bend at the knees and hips so your body drops into a seated position. Keep your thighs parallel to the ground. Do not lean forward so you do not put too much weight on your knees.
  • Return to your starting position. 
  • Repeat 5-10 times.

Seated crunches

  • Sit in your office chair. Hold the sides of the chair for support.
  • Ease back into the chair and draw your legs up toward your chest while keeping your core tight.
  • Extend your legs straight out in front of you.
  • Repeat 10 times.

10-minute Office Workouts

For an even more complete workplace exercise routine, try incorporating the following ten-minute workout regimen into your day. This office workout incorporates all elements of the five-minute routine but includes four additional exercises—triceps dips, forward-facing and side lunges, and single-leg deadlifts.

Triceps dips

  • Stand in front of your office chair. Make sure that it is stationary and cannot move.
  • Place your palms on the seat of the chair with your fingers facing away from you. Keep your feet on the ground and your legs straight in front of you.
  • Slowly lower your upper body until your arms are nearly parallel to the floor.
  • Push yourself back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Forward-facing lunges

  • Stand up straight and place your hands on your hips.
  • Take one big step forward. Bend your front knee. Be sure to keep it in line with your toes. 
  • Step back to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the other knee.
  • Perform 10 – 20 repetitions on both sides.

Side lunges

  • Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands in front of you, just below your chin. 
  • Take one big step to the side and lower into a squat until your opposite thigh is nearly parallel to the floor.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the other side.
  • Perform 10 – 20 repetitions on both sides.

Single leg deadlifts

  • Stand up straight in the middle of your office. Make sure you have enough room on all sides.
  • Balance on one leg while bending forward at the hip. Let your arms hang down while you reach toward the floor.
  • Stop bending once your back is parallel to the ground.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 5 times with each leg.

Incorporating Exercises into Your Work Routine

While workplace exercises do not require a lot of time, it can sometimes be difficult to incorporate them into your daily routine. Everyone gets busy, and it can be easy to forget to move and stretch when working head-down on a project or task.

To help incorporate office exercises into your daily workflow, consider adopting the following tactics:

Put exercise time on your calendar. Block out a few minutes on your calendar, at the same time or times every day, dedicated to performing the office exercises of your choice. Make it a point to do your workouts without interruption as much as possible.

Set a reminder. Set recurring reminders every hour to get up and move for at least a few minutes, even if it’s only for a simple stretch. Alternatively, if you have a smartwatch, use the device’s ability to prompt you to move every hour as an opportunity to get up from your desk and exercise.

Combine exercise with work tasks. There are many ways to exercise while working. For example, consider investing in a standing desk that you can move up and down as you desire, or an under the desk treadmill that allows you to keep moving as you type. Seek out no-cost exercise alternatives, such as going for a walk while on a conference call.

Whatever you choose, there are easy ways to move frequently throughout the day that will not compromise your ability to remain productive at work. 

Overcoming Common Challenges

At some point we have all come up with excuses as to why we do not exercise. Some of the most common include lack of time, space, or motivation.

The good news is that each of these can be easily overcome. Here are a few practical ways to incorporate exercise into your work life, even if you are pressed for time, have a small office space, or just are not feeling motivated on a particular day.

Focus on short and simple exercise intervals

Office exercise does not have to be an intense, heart-pounding, 30-minute gym workout. Even something as simple as a couple of minutes of stretching or strength exercises can be highly effective. Refer to the five- or ten-minute workout routines above to get an idea of how to incorporate short bursts of exercise into your busy workday. 

Perform exercises that work with the space you have.

Most office exercises do not need a lot of space. In fact, many workplace exercises, such as lunges, wall sits, and so forth, are perfect for any size space. With the exercises outlined above, you can even use some common office items, such as your desk or chair. 

Remind yourself how exercise makes you feel and its long-term benefits.

Somedays it can be difficult to motivate yourself to exercise. Perhaps you are tired or you have too much work to do. On days like these, it’s a good idea to remind yourself how exercise makes you feel. Research in the European Heart Journal shows that even small amounts of exercise every day can significantly lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and early death. Small doses of energy can also help increase blood flow and improve mental well-being and productivity.

With these benefits in mind, you may find yourself more motivated to move—even when you are not feeling up to it.

Embracing a Healthier Today with Workplace Exercises

We all have busy work lives, and sometimes it’s hard to fit in a workout during the workweek. But getting a good amount of exercise does not necessarily mean setting aside an hour to go to the gym every day. Although more intensive workouts are certainly beneficial, even a few minutes of in-office exercises interspersed throughout the day can help you become more fit, mentally focused, and reduce your chances of heart disease and other worrisome illnesses. 

What’s more, embracing a healthier today through workplace exercises does not have to take a lot of time, space, or effort. With just a few minutes a day—and a little motivation—you can engage in short, simple, and effective workouts that can break up work monotony and help you live a longer, happier, and more productive life.

Want to learn more about how Acuity can help your company improve workplace health and well-being? Check out Acuity’s comprehensive workplace wellness and prevention programs, as well as our occupational health services. Then, contact Acuity to find out how we can help your organization create a safer and healthier environment for all employees.

Workplace Exercises: FAQs

What is workplace exercise?

Workplace exercise is any type of exercise performed at the workplace, including a corporate or home office. Workplace exercises are different from typical gym workouts in that they do not require a lot of equipment, time, or space. They can generally be done in short intervals throughout the day using only a person’s body weight or office equipment, such as a desk or chair.

Which exercise is best for office workers?

The best exercise for office workers is generally one that requires little time, space, or equipment. The key is for the exercise to be, simple, enjoyable, and accessible so that the worker will perform it regularly.

What exercise does not raise cortisol levels?

Cortisol is a body’s main stress hormone. Since many of us already have enough stress at work, one of the goals of any workplace exercise program should be to reduce stress levels. Fortunately, all the office workouts mentioned in this blog post are low-stress exercises, and none will raise cortisol levels. In fact, they are great at reducing cortisol and helping workers be more focused and productive.

How can I exercise while sitting at my desk all day?

Exercising while working at a desk can be as simple as taking a few minutes out of each day to do short, yet highly effective, office exercises that require nothing more than a little bit of space and motivation. In fact, there are many workplace workouts you can do while actually sitting at your desk, including seated leg raises and chair squats. 

Still, it’s a good idea to try and move around at points throughout the day. Look for a few minutes here and there to get out of your chair and do some stretching or strength exercises, go for a short walk, or even do some quick chores if you work in a home office environment.

The Importance of Mental Health Awareness: A Path to Empowerment and Understanding

Mental health is a critical component of overall health, encompassing our emotional, psychological, and social dimensions. It influences how we react to stress, behave, relate to others, perform at work, and life trajectory.

Why is mental health important? Because of the role it plays in our overall well-being throughout our lives – from childhood, through adolescence, and adulthood. 

Unfortunately, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in eight people globally live with mental health conditions. In the U.S., the numbers are higher. Data from Mental Health America suggests that nearly one in five Americans have a diagnosable mental health condition and 46% will meet the criteria for a diagnosis sometime in their life.

Many of these people are stigmatized or discriminated against, while others can’t get the care they need. 

Everyone has the right to a high standard of mental health, access to care, and inclusion in the community and the workplace.

In this blog, we explore the importance of mental health awareness and how it can be promoted through individual actions and workplace initiatives.

Understanding Mental Health

Group of people discussing mental health topics

Mental health affects everyone. It is core to our well-being: our emotions, thoughts, feelings, problem-solving skills, coping skills, and outlook on life. Left untreated, mental health issues can lead to reduced quality of life, broken relationships, substance abuse, absenteeism, loss of employment, physical health problems, and suicide.

Importantly, mental health is different from mental illness, although the two are increasingly intertwined. Mental illness or a mental disorder is a condition or medical problem that impacts how the brain functions and interferes with everyday activities. Examples of mental illness include anxiety disorders and clinical depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, and mood disorders like bipolar disorder. Mental illness can be caused by child abuse, witnessing violence, trauma, ongoing medical conditions, alcohol or drugs, and biological factors.

Mental illness may be episodic or permanent and people with mental illness may enjoy periods of good mental health, especially if their condition is managed. 

Anyone can have mental health issues, but that doesn’t mean they have mental illness. Similarly, even individuals who don’t have mental illness can experience mental health issues – often caused by a major life event, stress, or burnout. 

Achieving and maintaining mental health isn’t a one-time process. It requires a holistic, long-term view of health that includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being – at work, at home, and in the community.

The Stigma Around Mental Health

Speaker addressing a workshop on mental health stigma

Despite the importance of mental health, mental health issues such as depression or anxiety often have a stigma attached to them

The stigma around mental health often comes from a lack of understanding or misconception about mental illness. Individuals with mental health issues may also experience self-stigma and shame about their condition. As a result, they may be deterred from seeking help. According to the American Psychiatry Association (APA), more than half of people with mental illness don’t receive help for their disorders or they delay treatment due to concerns about being treated differently or losing their jobs or livelihood

A recent poll also found that mental health stigma is a major challenge in the workplace, with half of workers concerned about discussing mental health issues at their jobs.

The APA defines three different types of stigma:

  • Public stigma: This involves negative or discriminatory attitudes that others have about mental health or illness.
  • Self-stigma: Refers to internalized shame by individuals with mental illness. 
  • Institutional stigma: Organizational or government policies that limit opportunities for people with mental illness, such as a lack of mental health resources relative to other forms of healthcare.

Mental health awareness is critical to understanding the impact that mental health has on daily life and reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with it. 

The Role of Mental Health Awareness

Awareness campaigns can raise awareness of mental health, educate the public to changing perceptions, improve access to mental health services, and promote supportive environments.

For instance, the WHO designates October 10 as World Mental Health Day and collaborates with governments and partners to organize mental health awareness initiatives, advocacy, and actions. The campaign also uses social media, using the hashtag #MyTipsForMentalHealth, to drive engagement and influence public opinion.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Mental Health America works to advance the mental health and well-being of all people through public education, research, advocacy, public policy, and direct service. Since 1949, the nonprofit has designated May as Mental Health Month – a core initiative in promoting mental health, well-being, and illness prevention. Each year the organization releases new resources to help individuals, families, workplaces, and communities learn how modern life affects mental health, build a coping toolbox, and advocate to improve mental health.

Across the country, state and local governments also work to raise awareness about mental health and available mental health services. For example, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) honors Mental Health Awareness Month by showcasing the state’s culturally competent, prevention, and early intervention resources as well as those of individual counties in the state.

Brands are also supporting shifts in attitudes with successful mental health campaigns targeted at employees and consumers, including:

  • TikTok’s Mental Health Media Education Fund has donated more than $2 million in ad credits to organizations working on mental well-being, including the Alliance for Eating Disorders, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Crisis Text Line, and others. 
  • Maybelline’s Brave Together initiative is dedicated to destigmatizing and combating mental health issues among youth.
  • Dove’s Self Esteem Project centers on promoting body confidence and creating a safer social media environment.
  • Saks Fifth Avenue’s Mental Health Awareness Month is a multifaceted campaign that spotlights the importance of mental health and raises funds for Saks’ nonprofit partners to help support the emotional and mental well-being of the communities they serve. 

These and many other campaigns have brought about positive changes in reducing stigma, promoting self-care, and connecting people to support and counseling. 

Promoting Mental Health Awareness

High-five celebrating mental health awareness achievements

There are many actions that individuals and employers can take to promote mental health awareness. Let’s take a look. 

Individual Actions

What can individuals do to raise awareness for mental health? 

There are many opportunities, including fundraising, community and workplace outreach, and awareness events, particularly during Mental Health Month. 

For instance, Mental Health America provides a toolkit featuring “Ways to Give” and “Get Active” suggestions. Examples of how individuals can contribute include:

  • Pledge a donation.
  • Shop the store.
  • Sign up for The Advocacy Network (the movement has had a major impact in protecting America’s mental health through legislative advocacy, including victories like the Affordable Care Act and Equity Act).
  • Send an advocacy letter to Congress to support mental health initiatives.
  • Participate in programs, including the Young Leaders Council, comprised of individuals aged 18-25 who have developed programs and initiatives to fill gaps in community mental health support and resources, or become a Youth Policy Accelerator, where participants identify and create policy solutions through a two-month intensive program.

Individuals can also support friends and family dealing with mental health issues. Check out these resources, including the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

Alternatively, engage with and advocate alongside mental health advocates on social media

Community and Workplace Initiatives

Organizations, schools, and workplaces can foster a supportive environment for mental health.

A survey by UGK found that mental health is so important in the workplace that 81% of employees worldwide would prioritize good mental health over a high-paying job and 64% said they’d take a pay cut for a job that better supports their mental wellness

Initiatives such as implementing a mental health policy, wellness programs (look for ideas here), and resources that support the well-being of workers can help employers prioritize mental health. There are many resources online, including Mental Health America’s workplace mental health resources for employers

The U.S. Department of Labor Mental Health at Work resources page is also useful. It includes tools and tips to support workplace mental health, things employers are required to do by law, and resources for workers and young people. The National Safety Council is another one to bookmark.

Schools must also help improve awareness of and access to mental health services. According to the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, up to one in five children living in the U.S. experience a mental disorder every year. By helping students who are experiencing mental health issues, schools can make them feel safe and improve their academic and behavioral performance. Available resources include those offered by SchoolSafety.gov, Youth.gov, and The Check-In Project, as well as state, local, and public school system websites.

Overcoming Challenges in Mental Health Advocacy

Advocating for mental health has its challenges. Insufficient funding, policy gaps, and stigma make it harder to spread the word, lessen stereotypes, and make it difficult for people to get help. Below are some common challenges and strategies to address them:

  • Policy gaps: Inadequate or outdated policies can impede progress in mental health care delivery, workforce well-being programs, and access to care. To overcome these, individuals and employers can work with advocacy groups, healthcare providers, and community members to identify areas for improvement and share evidence-based strategies for policy change. 
  • Stigma and discrimination: Stigma can prevent individuals and their families from seeking help, accessing the right services, and ensuring successful outcomes. Public awareness campaigns and education can help promote understanding of mental health issues. Open dialog with mental health professionals, community leaders, employers, education institutions, and non-profit organizations can also help combat stigma.
  • Shortage of mental health professionals: A shortage of mental health professionals, particularly in underserved areas, can limit awareness and access to care. Communities and political leaders must advocate for investments in the recruitment, training, and retention of mental health providers. 
  • Funding: Prioritizing advocacy for heightened funding across governmental tiers is crucial. Presenting studies and data demonstrating that investments in mental health can enhance productivity, decrease healthcare expenses, and alleviate pressure on social services is essential.

How You Can Contribute

Mental health and well-being are fundamental rights for everyone. Whether at work, school, in communities, or at home, everyone plays a part in raising awareness about mental health and making our environments more inclusive for those facing mental health struggles.

This could involve volunteering, educating others, or supporting mental health initiatives. By working together, we can make our communities healthier. We can break the stigma around mental illness, foster understanding, and ensure everyone can access the support they need without fear of judgment or discrimination.

Conclusion: Continuing the Importance of Mental Health Awareness

The importance of mental health awareness cannot be overstated. Every setting, interaction, community, or place of learning or work has an impact on everyone’s well-being. 

Mental well-being must be prioritized in the workplace, schools, and at home. Stigma and discrimination must be eradicated. And funding and policy put in place to ensure equitable access to mental health resources and care, wherever possible. 

Acuity Can Help

Acuity International has extensive experience in ensuring individuals, organizations, and communities have access to the mental health resources and care – wherever and whenever they are needed. Offered as part of our one-stop occupational health and wellness services, Acuity’s behavioral health and mental health case management services include mental health screening, advocacy, education, non-medical counseling, treatment plans, fit-for-work and return-to-work evaluations, assistance with workers’ compensation, and more.

Learn more about our comprehensive care services or contact us today.

Essential Workplace Risk Assessment Templates: A Comprehensive Guide for Safety and Compliance

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 2.8 million workplace injuries in the United States in 2022. Nearly 5,500 of those injuries led to fatalities. These numbers underscore an undeniable fact: risks are everywhere, including (and perhaps especially) in the workplace. To keep employees safe and healthy, and to avoid possible legal jeopardy, employers need to minimize workplace risk as much as possible. 

That’s where workplace risk assessments—and, more specifically, workplace risk assessment templates—come in. A workplace risk assessment is a careful process that involves identifying and evaluating potential risks within a workplace. A workplace risk assessment template is a form that can be used to systematically document hazards at work and assess the workplace’s risk level, likelihood of injury, injury severity, and more.

A comprehensive workplace risk assessment will not only consider physical risks, however. Risks to employees’ mental health should also be evaluated. Considering both physical and mental health risks will result in a comprehensive workplace risk assessment—and a healthier overall work environment.

In this blog, we’ll explore the various types of hazards managers should look out for, as well as the different types of workplace risk assessment templates at their disposal. We will also examine the key components of an effective and comprehensive risk assessment, how to implement and monitor risk assessments, various risk analysis tools, and other risk prediction methodologies companies can employ to make their workplaces less risky and more productive.

Fundamentals of Workplace Risk Assessment

Safety inspector checking equipment on a rooftop, emphasizing the importance of workplace risk assessment.

Workplace risk assessments are critical to maintaining a safe and productive workplace environment. The act of identifying possible hazards and documenting them allows managers to have a better understanding of things that have the potential to cause harm, whether physical or mental. They can then begin to address these issues before they cause damage to employees or present the company with legal problems. 

In short, a company that practices workplace risk assessments is less likely to experience worker downtime due to illness or injury, and more likely to have a safe and happy workforce.

Definition and Importance

A workplace risk assessment is a process in which organizations identify and evaluate potential risks or hazards to their employees. These could include but are not limited to: 

  • Items or machinery that might cause physical harm to a person.
  • The evaluation of hazardous substances that could pose a threat to a person’s well-being.
  • Situations that could adversely impact the mental health of an employee.

The United States Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970. OSHA requires employees to maintain strict safety standards to protect their employees. Specifically, employers are required to:

  • Provide employees with a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or physical harm.
  • Comply with all OSHA standards.
  • Train employees on workplace hazards and appropriate safety procedures.
  • Make, keep, and preserve accurate safety records and present them to federal officials upon request.

Employers must also:

  • Maintain equipment and ensure that it is running properly.
  • Immediately communicate potential hazards or safety issues to all employees.
  • Require and provide protective equipment.
  • Keep adequate records of all occupational accidents.

Workplace risk assessments can help organizations adhere to OSHA’s framework and compliance requirements. Employers can use the assessments to ensure they are following the law, thereby avoiding potential legal troubles—all while maintaining a safe working environment.

Comprehensive Risk Assessment Templates Overview

There are several types of risk assessment templates organizations can choose from, depending on their needs and the type of risk they wish to measure. Here are a few of the most common types of templates.

Qualitative risk assessment. A qualitative risk assessment evaluates potential risks based on their likelihood and potential impact on the organization. Risks are identified and assigned risk level ratings, with higher numbers corresponding to elevated risk levels.

Qualitative risk assessments are ideal for organizations that want to measure risk by level of severity. With a visual template, the organization can then prioritize which risks to remediate first.

Quantitative risk assessment. A quantitative risk assessment uses data to quantify and measure the likelihood of risks and their potential for damage. This type of risk assessment consists of four key components, including:

  • Risk identification: All risks are identified and documented.
  • Risk analysis: Risk probabilities and their potential impacts are analyzed.
  • Risk matrix: Risks are prioritized based on severity and potential impact.
  • Risk mitigation: A risk mitigation strategy is developed to minimize or eliminate risks identified in the broader quantitative risk assessment.

Quantitative risk assessments are best for organizations that want to base their risk management strategies on hard data.

Site-specific risk assessment. A site-specific risk assessment analyzes risks inherent in a particular location or environment (an industrial plant or construction site, for example). It’s particularly useful for environments that involve use of machinery, hazardous materials, and so forth.

Site-specific risk assessments generally include:

  • Analyzing and identifying potential hazards.
  • Assessing a business’s vulnerability to those hazards.
  • Analyzing the consequences if such a hazard were to befall a business or its employees.
  • Developing risk mitigation strategies based on the findings.

Dynamic risk assessment.  A dynamic risk assessment is designed to help businesses adapt and respond to changing risks within their workplaces. Dynamic risk assessments require organizations to continually monitor and reassess risks. They are ideal for identifying emerging risks and implementing the necessary mitigation measures—before the risks cause harm. 

General Risk Assessment Template

A general risk assessment (or generic risk assessment) template is a template that can be used for many different scenarios. A general risk assessment covers general workplace risks and is not tailored to a particular aspect of the workplace, such as a site-specific risk assessment or a health and safety risk assessment. A general risk assessment is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

A general risk assessment template will typically look something like this:

Risk Assessment Matrix categorizing likelihood and severity of workplace hazards, useful for implementing general risk assessment templates.

A similar matrix will be created for each identified hazard, making it easy for organizations to see which hazards pose the highest risk for injuries and fatalities. With this information in hand, organizations can take proactive action to eliminate the risks, starting with the hazards that present the most serious consequences. 

Addressing Mental Health in Risk Assessments

Maintaining a safe workplace environment is not just about keeping employees protected from physical dangers. Ensuring a workplace is free of psychological hazards is equally important for employees’ mental health and overall well-being. 

Examples of hazards that could take a toll on employees’ mental health include:

  • Work overload or inability to achieve proper work/life balance.
  • Cultural change within the workplace.
  • Strained working relationships.
  • Lack of defined roles.
  • Lack of proper training.

Mental health risk assessments are instrumental in minimizing these and other psychological threats. Rather than an individual assessment, organization-wide mental health risk assessments are designed to provide a perspective on a business’s overall effectiveness in providing a stable and mentally stimulating work environment. 

Mental Health Risk Assessment Form

A mental health risk assessment form is a useful tool in evaluating an organization’s ability to provide a mentally challenging, yet healthy, workplace. The form will generally consist of the following categories:

  • Job Characteristics, including factors that could make a job more stressful.
  • Role Characteristics, including whether employees’ roles are clearly defined.
  • Work Environment, taking into account the impact that changes to company culture, the work environment, and more have on the mental health of employees.
  • Relationships, considering whether or not there is clarity on who reports to whom, trust issues, and more.

Each category will be accompanied by a risk factor (i.e., whether employees appear to be overworked, whether they have a say in what goes on in the company, whether they clearly understand what’s expected of them, etc.). Another line item might include suggested actions to be taken to minimize or address the risks and when those actions should be completed.

Hazard-Specific Assessment Forms

Workplace hazards exist in many forms. Two of the most common, ergonomic and chemical hazards, are very different, yet can also be very debilitating. Let’s explore the differences between the two and the best practices and forms that organizations can use to mitigate their potential for damage.

Ergonomic and Chemical Hazards

Ergonomic workplace hazards are workplace conditions that could end up causing long-term health issues for employees. Examples include:

  • Improperly designed workstations.
  • Poor posture.
  • Use of repetitive motion.
  • Improper temperature control.
  • Continuous vibrations.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, these and other ergonomic hazards could lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs can, in turn, cause pain, stiffness, tiredness, clumsiness, and other symptoms that can impact employees’ health and ability to perform their duties.

Industry-Specific Risk Assessment Templates

It’s often helpful for organizations to use risk assessment templates and practices that are tailored to their industries. For example, the healthcare and construction industries both pose specific types of risks, including hazards associated with biological and chemical substances, utilities, falling objects, and more. Templates and assessments designed to analyze those specific risks can help organizations maintain safe and healthy work environments.

Tailored Templates for Construction and Healthcare

There are several ways to measure risk in a healthcare or construction setting. Two of the most popular involve creating a health and safety risk assessment or a construction risk assessment. 

The templates used to analyze risk in these settings are like other types of workplace risk assessments, in that they catalog possible dangers and prioritize them in terms of likelihood and severity. However, they specifically focus on risks that are likely to only be found in healthcare or construction environments.

Health and safety risk assessment. A health and safety risk assessment focuses on the health and safety aspects of a workplace. These types of assessments are ideal for organizations that deal with hazardous materials (i.e., biological chemicals that could cause infection or disease). Safety and control measures are documented and analyzed, risk ratings are assigned, and the likelihood of potential damage is accounted for. 

Construction risk assessment. A construction risk assessment catalogs all the potential risks found on a construction site. These include fall risks, risk of electrocution, risk of being struck by an object, etc.

Construction risk assessments always include the following core elements:

  • Tasks being performed on the construction site.
  • Risks associated with those tasks.
  • The likelihood of the risks occurring.
  • The potential impact of those risks.
  • Mitigation and response strategies.

Key Components of Risk Assessment

Though there are many different types of workplace risk assessments, all of them have three common components: hazard identification, risk analysis, and control measures. Let’s explore each of these components and provide examples to illustrate possible risks and how they might be categorized.

Hazard Identification, Risk Analysis, and Control Measures

Hazard identification. Workplaces are carefully monitored for potential hazards. Hazards can be physical (i.e., unsafe heights on a construction site, malfunctioning machinery, etc.), mental (i.e., harassment, bullying, stress, etc.), chemical (i.e., fumes, gas, etc.), ergonomic (i.e., poorly designed workstations), or biological (i.e., blood, bacteria, waste, etc.).

Risk analysis. Once hazards are identified they are analyzed for their potential risk to humans. Risk levels are often categorized by severity (i.e., low risk, high risk, etc.). They could also be categorized according to the potential for harm (i.e. likely to cause a fatality, likely to cause minor injuries, etc.).

Control measures. Organizations can then prioritize hazards in terms of those that are most likely to cause harm and begin to implement control measures to mitigate their risk potential. Examples of control measures include requiring hearing protection at excessively loud worksites, using personal protective equipment in a hospital, etc.

Customization and Utilization of Templates

Every workplace is different and has its unique risks. The type of hazards one might see in a hospital will differ significantly from those seen in an office building, for example. Therefore, it is often a good idea to customize workplace risk templates to fit the special circumstances of each industry and work environment. 

Creating customized templates is not always necessary, of course. Sometimes a general risk assessment and template is enough (it is certainly better than not having a template at all). Businesses should carefully weigh the value of having a generic template versus a custom template. Organizations in specialized fields such as healthcare, construction, biosciences, etc., should consider creating custom workplace risk templates to ensure their employees are well protected from specific threats. 

Adapting Templates for Specific Needs

Organizations that choose to create customized risk templates can do so in a way that is creative and ensures the companies remain compliant with OSHA. Tactics for customizing and adapting risk templates for specific needs include:

  • Start with a generic risk template. Create or download a generic risk template that includes categories for risks within the organization, potential outcomes if not addressed, severity levels of the outcomes, etc.
  • Add fields and columns specific to the industry/organization. For example, a healthcare organization may wish to include the potential risk of not wearing personal protective gear, while the risk template for a construction site might list potential fall and electrical hazards.
  • Create a plan to address and mitigate risks. Once the analysis is complete, create a plan to address each of the risks. For the aforementioned healthcare organization, that could include ensuring that all employees have access to and understand the need to wear protective equipment. 

Implementing and Monitoring Risk Assessments

Engaged team of professionals in high visibility jackets discussing safety protocols, an integral part of risk assessment.

Perhaps the most important part of any workplace risk assessment is the implementation phase. While this phase begins immediately upon completion of the assessment, the organizations that truly benefit from this process are the ones that continually monitor and review their safety policies and risks. 

Action Plans, Prioritization, and Review

All risk management plans should include a detailed implementation strategy that helps organizations systematically address the risks that were uncovered during the analysis phase. Effectively executing a plan includes:

  • Prioritizing the risks in terms of their potential threats, how likely they are to occur, and how much damage they could cause.
  • Creating a plan to address and mitigate the risks, starting with high-priority risks first and continuing through the rest of the list.
  • Implementing a communication and/or training strategy to make employees aware of the risks, what the company is doing to address them, and how employees can help.
  • Continually reassessing risks, as organizational hazards and regulations can change over time.

Conclusion: Empowering Safety and Compliance Through Effective Risk Assessment

Workplace risk assessments are essential to a safe and productive work environment. They help organizations identify potential hazards that could do physical or mental harm to employees; analyze the possible outcomes if the hazards were to occur; and create proactive plans to rectify the hazards before they become real problems. 

In short, organizations that perform frequent risk assessments have a better chance of creating safer workplaces that are compliant with federal workplace safety laws and regulations.

Acuity International has extensive experience in risk management and analysis. Contact us today to start a conversation about how we can help you develop a workplace risk assessment plan that keeps your employees safe and secure.

FAQs

  • How do you conduct a risk assessment?

    A workplace risk assessment is a careful process that involves identifying and evaluating potential risks within a workplace. In a workplace risk assessment, potential hazards to employees are identified, analyzed, and categorized by priority level and possible outcomes (i.e., fatalities, minor injuries, etc.)

  • What is a risk assessment template?

    A workplace risk assessment template is a document that organizations use to catalog and categorize identified risks. Templates often take the form of easy-to-read matrices that allow organizations to visualize the threats in their organization by priority level and likely outcomes so they can prioritize how to proactively address potential risks.

  • What are at least 10 hazards and risks in the workplace?

    There are many types of workplace hazards and risks. Some of the most common include:

    • Hazardous chemicals
    • Ladders
    • Heights
    • Tripping hazards
    • Electrical hazards
    • Biological hazards
    • Faulty equipment/machinery
    • Mental hazards (stress, for example)
    • Ergonomic hazards (poorly designed workstations, for example)
    • Fire hazards 

  • What are three types of control measures?

    Control measures are effective in mitigating and preventing workplace accidents. Three common types of control measures include:

    • Removal of hazardous materials
    • Repair of faulty equipment
    • Training of employees

The Ultimate Guide to Construction Project Planning

Construction projects are large-scale undertakings that require precise and proper planning. Without the appropriate construction project planning, projects run the risk of both going over budget and schedule and creating challenges for builders, investors, and clients.

Construction project planning mitigates these challenges. It includes leveraging technology, defining work tasks, estimating required resources and durations for each task, and identifying interactions between tasks. A good construction plan is the basis for developing the budget and the work schedule.

This blog discusses project planning in construction. We’ll explore the fundamentals of construction project planning, steps in the planning process, resource management strategies, legal and compliance considerations, budgeting and controlling costs, and more. After reading, you’ll have a better understanding of how to create a plan that keeps your construction project on schedule and within budget.

Fundamentals of Construction Project Planning

Construction professionals analyzing blueprints, fundamental to construction project planning.

Detailed project planning is essential to the success of any construction project, no matter the size of the effort. Construction planning allows organizations to map out the most direct and efficient means of completing a project. A typical construction plan includes information on the objectives of the project; the anticipated scope; details on how to effectively manage resources; timelines and deadlines; estimated costs; and more. 

A construction project plan isn’t inflexible. Rather, it should be highly adaptable as warranted by changes in the construction schedule, availability of labor, equipment, and materials, and other factors that can impact a project. An agile plan is an effective plan.

Identifying Objectives and Scope

A construction project scope (or scope or statement of work) is a documented plan created by the construction team that details the work that will be done to complete the project. The scope of work clearly defines the tasks that need to be done, when they need to be done, who is responsible for completing them, and so forth. It also includes the objectives and goals for the project. 

A scope of work is included in every contract and serves as a “single source of truth” for everyone involved in the construction project, including managers, contractors, equipment suppliers, and the client. The scope ensures that key elements of the project are aligned with stakeholders’ expectations and project feasibility studies.

Steps in the Construction Project Planning Process

Stakeholders in construction project planning discussing over digital tools and documents.

Construction project planning requires the completion of several sequential steps, from initial assessment and feasibility studies to the development of a comprehensive project plan. Even though these steps are tightly integrated, plans must be iterative and allow for adjustments as the project progresses.

Let’s take a closer look at two of those steps: creating a work breakdown structure and developing a project schedule.

Creating a Work Breakdown Structure

A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a tool that breaks the entire construction project into smaller and more manageable parts. This makes it easier for construction and project managers to visualize each aspect of the project, assign due dates and responsibilities, and tackle each of them in sequence. In essence, a WBS makes construction projects less daunting and easier to track and ensures that everything is moving forward and in the right direction.

Elements of a WBS include but are not limited to:

  • Project scope
  • Project schedule
  • List of key stakeholders
  • Project tasks and timelines

How the WBS is structured can impact the way the project is executed. Three major types of WBS include:

  • Deliverable-based WBS. Project scope is broken down into manageable pieces and shown in a hierarchy, with the main deliverable or control account at the top, followed by individual work packages and tasks that must be completed to satisfy the deliverable.
  • Responsibility-based WBS. This type of WBS divides the scope of work based on project team member responsibilities. For every deliverable, the WBS illustrates which team members are involved, including their roles and responsibilities, who they report to, and so forth.
  • Phase-based WBS. The phases of the project (i.e., Design, Procurement, Construction, etc.) constitute the highest-level elements, followed by their associated tasks and deliverables.

Developing a Project Schedule

Construction project schedules are another important component of project planning. A sound project schedule details each point in the construction project, from start to finish. It includes pre-construction submittals and plans, details on oversight, plans for project closeout, and other activities. 

A construction project schedule illustrates every task and event in the project, when each task needs to be started and completed, and in what order they should be completed. It can also include the person responsible for each task. Schedules provide insight into the type and number of equipment and personnel required per task, to make the project a success. 

Project managers can plan their projects using several types of scheduling techniques, including:

  • Critical Path Method (CPM). The construction manager identifies the essential tasks required to complete a project. Tasks are listed in terms of dependencies (i.e., Task B cannot be completed until Task A is done). The most urgent dependencies are prioritized.
  • Last Planner® System (LPS).  Created by the Lean Construction Institute, the LPS “promotes the creation of a predictable workflow among various parties so that it achieves reliable results.” It does this by providing construction managers with a five-phase system that includes master planning, phase planning, lookahead (AKA “make-ready”) planning, weekly work planning, and learning.
  • Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT). Project managers identify and prioritize the most critical tasks within the project and create an estimated timeline that references the sequences of tasks, dependencies between tasks, and the expected time it will take to complete each task.

Whatever technique they choose, managers often use a tool called a Gantt chart to diagram their schedules. A Gantt chart is a bar chart that shows dependencies between tasks and allows managers to create a visual hierarchy showing the relationship between critical and less critical tasks. Many different software programs can be used to create a Gantt chart, including Oracle Primavera P6, Microsoft Project, GanttPRO Project Planner, and others.

Resource Management Strategies

Good resource management enhances productivity and keeps projects running efficiently, smoothly, within budget, and on time. 

Examples of resource management strategies include:

  • Project planning and resource identification. Managers define their project’s scope, objectives, deliverables, and tasks needed to complete the project.
  • Resource allocation. Resources are aligned with the project’s tasks and activities.
  • Resource procurement. The appropriate resources—including equipment, materials, and so forth—are acquired.
  • Resource monitoring. The performance of acquired resources is monitored throughout the lifecycle of the construction project.
  • Resource optimization. The use of available resources is optimized so that downtime is minimal and resources are being used to their fullest capabilities.

Resource estimation and budgeting is another core component of resource management—and perhaps the most important, at least in terms of cost control. Let’s take a closer look at how construction project managers can effectively budget their resources and costs.

Budgeting and Cost Control

Budgets are essential for controlling costs, identifying potential risks, assisting in decision-making, facilitating communication among project stakeholders, and ensuring profitability. Without a budget, construction project planners risk overhead costs and cost overruns and struggle to plan for variables such as price increases and delays.  

Creating a construction budget is a distinct project that involves the following steps:

  • Project research. Managers analyze and identify the project’s goals and requirements. During the research phase, site conditions are assessed, zoning and permits are secured, and project documentation is created. 
  • Project scope. Planners meet with architects and engineers to understand and determine the scope and design aspects of the project. Then, they create lists of materials that will be needed to complete the project.
  • Pre-construction and documentation. Planners meet with all key stakeholders to discuss the project and budget in detail, raise any potential issues, and identify possible risks.
  • Construction and project closeout. This is an ongoing phase in which managers continually monitor their costs to ensure they remain aligned with their budgets. This allows them to make adjustments if necessary to control costs.

Risk Management in Construction Planning

Gantt chart showcasing construction project scheduling for risk management.

Construction risk management involves anticipating risks and implementing procedures and processes to mitigate them if or when they occur. Risks are generally identified early in the construction process. Planners compile lists of every possible risk that could arise, including:

  • Financial risk. Financial risks are items or events that could impede the cash flow of a construction project. They can include unexpected price increases, a rise in market competition, a lack of funding, etc.
  • Project risk. Project risks include missing deadlines, poor resource management, labor shortages, and other factors that could cause a construction project to fall behind schedule.
  • Legal risk. Legal risks include issues around the inability to secure permits, contract disputes, and so forth.
  • Safety risk. Safety concerns include environmental and site hazards, improper equipment use, and other circumstances or events that could occur at the job site and jeopardize the safety of the construction crew or the public.

Proactive risk management, before any work is done, can significantly minimize the impact of risks on project timelines and costs. 

Implementing Safety Measures

Construction sites are inherently risky. From potentially dangerous pieces of equipment to the possibility of electrical shock, there are potential threats around every corner.

That’s why it’s critical to implement the appropriate safety measures and procedures for every construction job. Before any work commences, planners should compile a comprehensive list of safety protocols to protect all stakeholders and shield the project from legal liability or delays.

Construction managers should take several steps to improve construction safety, including:

  • Conduct equipment training. Proper training on construction equipment can help minimize the potential for human error. 
  • Assess site conditions. Perform a thorough site assessment before breaking ground and note potential hazards (for example, height risks). This can help managers identify ways to improve safety before work begins.
  • Mandate protective equipment. Ensure each worker wears the appropriate protective gear (such as hard hats, face shields or masks, etc.), and make sure the equipment is worn properly to prevent injuries.
  • Enforce safe site visits. Set parameters around who can visit the site and when. Ensure that all authorized visitors are accompanied by a site manager during their walkthroughs.
  • Install signage warning of safety hazards. Clearly demarcate areas of concern and potential hazards with signage warning workers and visitors to be careful or avoid the areas.
  • Perform routine inspections. Regularly inspect equipment to make sure it is functioning properly and does not pose a danger to workers. Teach workers the proper ways to inspect equipment and protocols for reporting faulty machinery.

Implementing these measures can help instill a culture of safety on every construction site. Workers will appreciate that their construction managers care about their well-being, which can improve employee happiness and productivity.

Beyond the physical and financial requirements, construction projects also require an array of legal activities that must be completed before any dirt is stirred. Legal compliance helps mitigate risk and ensure funding for government and commercial projects. 

The primary legal activities required for a construction project include:

  • Arranging for permits. Construction managers must receive a permit from the local government that permits them to build on a particular site. The entire process—applications, reviews, and approvals—can take several months and could cost thousands of dollars, depending on the type of permit required.
  • Complying with regulations and standards. Regulatory compliance in the construction industry is determined by rules and regulations formed and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as other government agencies like the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). State and local governments will also have their own regulations that construction managers must comply with.

Legal teams must work with construction managers and planners to ensure that all regulations and compliance standards continue to be met throughout the life of the construction project. Failure to do so could result in unwanted legal issues and project setbacks.

Leveraging Technology in Project Planning

Construction project planning is enormously complex and challenging, and it can be difficult to manage using basic spreadsheets, emails, and other legacy forms of technology. Fortunately, construction managers and planners can use new technology and automated tools to create their construction scopes and budgets, streamline workflows, and facilitate communication among key stakeholders. They include:

  • Simulation tools. These tools allow construction project managers to simulate the impact any change will have on the entire construction project, including costs, schedule, and the overall outcome.
  • Building Information Modeling (BIM) and 4D scheduling. When linked with a construction schedule, BIM models and 4D schedules can provide a visual representation of the progress of the construction project over time.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). AI and ML are embedded in many modern construction technologies and can be used to automate construction planning and monitoring, resulting in greater efficiency.
  • Portfolio management software. Tools like Microsoft Project and Oracle Primavera P6 allow managers to plan, manage, schedule, and execute all aspects of their construction projects. Both tools have unique benefits. Oracle Primavera P6 provides more in-depth functionality, including “what-if” scenarios that show what is likely to happen if part of the project is changed, while Microsoft Project uses a Gantt chart to show a highly streamlined and visual representation of the project.

Conclusion: Mastering Construction Project Planning

Construction projects are large, complex, time-consuming, and expensive, and require the execution of thousands of tasks to reach completion. As such, detailed and precise project planning is necessary. 

The planning process involves several steps, including creating a Work Breakdown Structure and project schedule–before any work begins. Construction managers must take special care to account for potential risks and other factors that could derail a project and lead to cost overruns. Careful resource management, budgeting and cost control, and adherence to national and local regulatory guidelines are essential.

But managers needn’t do any of these things alone. Acuity is here to help. We have decades of experience helping organizations manage construction projects of all sizes. We routinely help managers apply proven project management techniques and effective cost analysis and engineering principles. Finally, we use the latest technology to ensure that our clients have the most accurate information to make the most informed decisions to help them keep every project on track and within budget.

Contact Acuity to learn more.

Understanding Case Management Challenges in Healthcare

Case management is a critical healthcare practice that connects patients and vulnerable populations to the medical care, social services, community resources, and education they need to improve their health, well-being, and lives.

Case managers evaluate patient needs and plan, facilitate, coordinate, and advocate for healthcare options and services to improve quality of care and social and clinical outcomes. 

Despite its benefits, many healthcare organizations and providers struggle to implement and manage case management programs in clinical environments. And when services and care are poorly coordinated, undue pressure is placed on emergency departments and patient health can suffer.

In this blog, we explore the challenges of case management in healthcare and the best practices and innovations that organizations can adopt to overcome them. 

The Evolving Landscape of Healthcare Case Management

Healthcare professionals attending a training seminar on case management

Changes in healthcare policies like the Affordable Care Act and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act brought in case management as a service through Medicaid waivers, along with advancements in technology that have revolutionized case management. This transformation has resulted in better access to care, improved diagnostic methods, more tailored patient care, and improved outcomes.

These advancements are changing the landscape of healthcare case management prompting organizations to change so they can provide effective services and improve the quality of care for all. Yet, challenges remain.

Primary Challenges in Healthcare Case Management

Case management is a complex field and presents many challenges to healthcare organizations, such as balancing care with costs, navigating compliance requirements, and maintaining effective communication pathways with clients and stakeholders. 

Balancing Quality Care and Cost Efficiency

Cost poses a major obstacle to implementing case management in healthcare settings. Scarce resources make it difficult for healthcare professionals to run case management programs and provide necessary health and social services to patients in need.

The cost of case management can vary depending on factors such as the case manager’s hourly rates, caseload, the complexity of a patient’s medical condition, the duration of services offered, and the geographical location of the case and associated mileage costs. 

Strategies for cost-effective case management include:

  • Prioritizing the most urgent and important cases that require immediate attention.
  • Coordinating care and integrating services across different providers and settings to close care gaps and areas of conflict in the delivery of care.
  • Empowering clients to become active in their own care management and motivating them to manage their health to reduce dependence on case management services. 
  • Using technology and data analytics to monitor progress, evaluate outcomes, reduce administrative tasks, and increase productivity.
  • Using evidence-based strategies to ensure any care solution is proven and effective for the client’s use case and needs.  

Ensuring compliance in healthcare case management is essential to the ethical delivery of patient care and avoiding government scrutiny and potential financial penalties. 

Several entities regulate healthcare case managers including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), state agencies, licensing bodies, and more. 

In addition, case managers must comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards for protecting sensitive patient health information.

Proper training (such as that facilitated by the Case Management Society of America and others) and ongoing monitoring are necessary to ensure that case managers and programs meet legal, ethical, and regulatory requirements.

Enhancing Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Another challenge that caseworkers face is communicating and collaborating across different healthcare disciplines. Case managers must collaborate with various stakeholders, including healthcare service providers, nurses, supervisors, social workers, lawyers, and more. Maintaining communication channels is essential to managing multiple cases and tasks.

The use of standardized team communication tools and case management software can break down barriers and ensure streamlined continuity of care.

Technological Innovations and their Impact on Case Management

Doctor using virtual reality technology in healthcare

Technological innovations such as case management systems, electronic health records (EHRs), patient assessment tools, and collaboration software are important facilitators of healthcare case management. However, consideration must be given to maintaining patient confidentiality and adapting to changing models of healthcare delivery, such as telehealth and remote case management.

Digital Health Records and Data Privacy

Electronic health records play an important role in healthcare case management. EHRs centralize patient information and enable convenient and seamless data entry and data sharing. 

To ensure compliance with HIPAA, EHRs in case management must include stringent access controls, encryption, and audit procedures (such as tracking who has accessed patient information and what changes were made). Case managers must also be trained in these technologies.

Furthermore, since case managers deal with multiple agencies and social support organizations (some of which may not be covered HIPAA entities), careful consideration must be given to how any health information will be shared and protected. 

Telehealth and Remote Case Management

Telehealth and remote case management offer many advantages for case workers and patients, especially for individuals with chronic conditions, complex needs, or limited access to in-person services. 

These services can reduce patient travel time and expense, improve access to specialized care and resources, enhance adherence to treatment plans, improve self-management skills, and empower patients to take control of their recovery and health. 

Despite this, telehealth and remote case management present challenges for patients and healthcare providers. These include a lack of infrastructure and connectivity, resistance to adopt new technologies, data privacy and ethical concerns, loss of personal touch, and a lack of oversight of case workers.

Addressing the Needs of Diverse Patient Populations

The United States is a diverse nation. Our case managers and health professionals are required to provide inclusive and culturally and linguistically appropriate care and services that meet the expectations of each patient. At the same time, case managers must deal with increasingly complex cases and chronic conditions.

Let’s look at how case management teams can address these challenges. 

Cultural Competency and Patient-Centered Cases

Cultural competency in healthcare case management means delivering quality care to patients with different beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors. To do this, case managers must adjust care based on cultural and language differences. It’s also important to understand how these differences can affect healthcare delivery.

Several strategies can help guide patient-centered care that respects cultural differences. These include:

  • Promoting awareness through cultural competence training.
  • Hiring and retaining caseworkers who reflect the diversity of those in their care. 
  • Hiring multilingual case workers or interpreters.  
  • Meeting with religious and community leaders to understand the community’s needs and customs.
  • Respecting patients’ religious and cultural choices.

Managing Chronic Conditions and Complex Cases

Case managers are increasingly tasked with overseeing patients dealing with chronic illnesses or complex healthcare needs. These patients require customized care plans, ongoing support, and careful monitoring. To effectively coordinate care for these groups, case managers must develop innovative methods to determine when, where, and what type of assistance is needed.

Managing such intricate cases involves several steps:

  1. Assess the patient’s case and available services and resources.
  2. Identify key stakeholders, including healthcare providers, family members, and legal support.
  3. Create a personalized care plan centered around the patient’s needs, goals, and measurable outcomes.
  4. Coordinate services with healthcare providers, social workers, legal teams, and others while advocating for the patient.
  5. Offer emotional and informational support to the patient, educating them about their care plan, rights, and options, and empowering them to advocate for themselves.
  6. Regularly evaluate disease control and management, the effectiveness of the care plan, and the patient’s self-management capabilities.

Strategies for Overcoming Case Management Challenges

Happy healthcare team in a hospital

Healthcare case management is difficult and intricate. It involves balancing effective patient care with factors like cost, compliance, evolving care models, cultural sensitivities, and other considerations. To overcome these challenges, it’s important to foster a culture of continuous training and development and leverage technology to facilitate communication and collaboration and streamline the management of complex cases. 

Professional Development and Training

Continuous education and training ensure case managers stay ahead of best practices. Professional development opportunities in case management are available through organizations like the Case Management Society of America (CMSA) and American Case Management Association (ACMA).

Leveraging Technology for Efficient Case Management

Cutting-edge technologies and software have the potential to simplify case management procedures. For instance, healthcare case management software and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools enable case managers to collaborate effectively with patients and providers, deliver personalized care, automate processes, and lower expenses. 

Technology also facilitates tracking, monitoring, and reporting on patient care and results.

Additionally, data privacy platforms aid in managing patient data privacy, access permissions, and ensuring compliance with HIPAA regulations.

Conclusion: The Future of Healthcare Case Management

Many trends will impact the future of healthcare case management, including an aging population, an increasingly diverse population, evolving laws and regulations, and technological innovations.

Acuity can help your organization prepare for these challenges. We deliver responsive, flexible, and scalable one-stop case management services tailored to the unique needs and risks of each client – whenever and wherever those services are needed.

With over 48 years of industry experience, Acuity is one of the nation’s leading providers of clinical and social case management services to federal, commercial, and international clients.

Delivered remotely or on-site, our diverse, interdisciplinary services include community, social work, patient, behavioral health care, mental health, absence, and return-to-work case management scenarios.

Learn more about our social service, community, and social work case management services, or contact us today.

How to Promote Mental Health at Work: A Definitive Guide

Over half of the world’s population is employed, and a concerning 15% of them suffer from mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, emotional distress, insomnia, and more. 

These disorders can lead to lost productivity, human error, absenteeism, substance abuse, and financial losses. Mental health issues cost the global economy US$1 trillion each year, largely due to reduced productivity.

Mental health disorders are particularly worrying when they impact workers in skilled professions, such as airline pilots, commercial vehicle drivers, and operators of heavy machinery. This is due to the characteristics that mentally ill workers in these industries can exhibit, such as aggression, hostility, impulsiveness, disregard for laws, and more – all significant risk factors for accidents.

Fortunately, many mental health conditions are preventable, and much can be done in the workplace to support employees who are vulnerable to mental health disorders or have existing mental health conditions.

Read on to understand more about how to promote mental health at work and foster a healthy, safe, and productive work environment.

Recognizing the Signs of Mental Health Issues

The importance of mental health in the workplace has taken on greater importance in recent years. In 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labor Organization (ILO) called for concrete actions to address mental health concerns in the working population: 

“As people spend a large proportion of their lives in work – a safe and healthy working environment is critical. We need to invest to build a culture of prevention around mental health at work, reshape the work environment to stop stigma and social exclusion, and ensure employees with mental health conditions feel protected and supported,” said Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General.

Given that early recognition is key to successful outcomes, those who work closest with employees play a key role in enacting any organization’s mental health policy and providing workers with the support they need. However, managers and supervisors may find it challenging to identify signs of mental health issues due to the stigma and isolation often linked with such disorders.

That’s why workplace mental wellness programs need to include training for supervisors on recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health issues.

In a work environment, someone dealing with mental health challenges might show these signs:

  • More frequent or unexplained absences from work
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Unusual errors or lapses in performance
  • Heightened levels of anxiety
  • Reduced motivation or disengagement from work-related tasks
  • Difficulty meeting deadlines
  • Occasional bursts of anger or irritability
  • Shortened temper
  • Symptoms of excessive drinking or hangovers
  • Avoidance of social interactions

If a supervisor detects any of these signs of mental health issues in the workplace, it’s time to start a conversation.

The Role of Leadership in Mental Health Advocacy

Leadership providing mental health support in the workplace

To ensure the health and well-being of employees, leadership buy-in and involvement is crucial. 

Managers and supervisors who have direct interactions with employees should take the lead in implementing the organization’s mental health initiatives and policies, while also cultivating a supportive and inclusive atmosphere.

A survey by The Workforce Institute at UKG found that 69% of workers said their manager had the greatest impact on their mental health, surpassing even that of doctors and therapists. Interestingly, 60% rated their manager’s impact on par with that of their spouse.

Nevertheless, managers often shield themselves from their employees’ mental health challenges. They might hesitate to start a conversation due to a lack of confidence or concerns about overstepping privacy boundaries. Moreover, supervisors might be dealing with their own stressors, leaving them with insufficient time, drive, or energy to intervene. In some cases, they might even be contributing to the problem. Indeed, a difficult boss is one of the leading causes of mental health issues in the workplace.

Employers can address this problem by educating managers on how to spot signs of mental illness, engage employees who are struggling, and provide them with the support they need.

Here are some recommendations for implementing mental health training for managers.

Implementing Mental Health Training for Managers

Training for managers regarding mental health should include the following topics:

  • Clarifying the company’s policy on mental health and well-being in the workplace.
  • Understanding how a supervisor’s actions can affect the mental health of employees.
  • Identifying signs of mental health disorders among employees.
  • Developing a better understanding of workplace stressors and job-related factors that impact mental well-being, such as micromanagement, performance expectations, long hours, heavy workloads, autonomy, lack of supervisory support, etc.
  • Learning how to be an accessible, attentive, and compassionate leader.
  • Enhancing interpersonal skills, including effective communication and active listening.
  • Knowing how to connect employees with resources and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), including counseling and stress management services.
  • Understanding the importance of confidentiality. Under federal law, employees with mental health conditions are protected against discrimination and harassment in the workplace, have rights to confidentiality, and are entitled to reasonable accommodations to help them perform their job duties and maintain their employment.
  • Receiving training in crisis management and conflict resolution to effectively respond to serious incidents such as workplace violence or suicide.

Creating a Supportive Work Environment

Employee taking a relaxing break, promoting mental health at work

Creating a positive and supportive workplace can help reduce mental disorders and promote employee well-being. Such an environment encourages social connections, self-care, and accommodations for individuals facing mental health challenges. Here are some practical changes to consider in workplace policies and culture:

  • Review health insurance policies and programs to include mental health resources and programs.
  • Solicit employee feedback or host focus groups. Ask for their views on company health and wellness policies and invite recommendations. 
  • Allocate funds for mental health and well-being initiatives. 
  • Integrate mental health into occupational health and safety programs.
  • Launch an employee mental health awareness campaign or organize mental health days or weeks one or twice a year.
  • Provide flexible work arrangements, such as virtual or hybrid work models and flex schedules.
  • Promote team-building activities to encourage relationship-building and engagement among employees.
  • Offer opportunities for growth through training, mentoring, and career advancement pathways.
  • Adapt the workplace to accommodate individuals coping with mental illness, including providing extra time for tasks, modifying assignments to reduce stress, allowing time off for counseling or medical appointments, regular one-on-one meetings with supervisors, and managing absences.
  • Establish a return-to-work program that combines work-directed care with ongoing clinical support after an absence due to a mental health condition.

For more suggestions, read our Comprehensive Guide to Effective Wellness Program Ideas

Encouraging Open Conversations About Mental Health

As many people in the workforce experience mental health challenges, they must understand they’re not alone. They should feel that the workplace is inclusive and a secure environment where they can openly discuss their mental health, knowing that support is accessible.

Open, judgment-free discussions about mental health are key to alleviating and removing stressors in the workplace. Workers should know they are not alone and that their employer understands the stress and mental challenges they are experiencing. Employers and supervisors should reassure workers that they are open and empathetic to discussions about work-related mental health and able to provide access to coping resources.

Supporting Employees Struggling with Mental Health

Supporting employee mental health at work

Supervisors and HR managers can make a difference when it comes to helping workers with mental health issues. 

For instance, if an employee exhibits symptoms of mental illness, employers should show empathy and find out if the worker needs help. This assistance might involve lightening their workload, prioritizing tasks, adjusting deadlines, or providing room for the employee to take time off. 

Importantly, employers should listen without passing judgement, avoid using negative language about mental health, and acknowledge the impact it may have on the employee’s work and personal life. 

Discussing mental health can be challenging. Employers must honor the employee’s privacy and readiness to open up. If an employee is hesitant to discuss their mental health, supervisors can suggest exploring options like EAPs and other available mental health resources.

Injecting positive comments about the employer’s work and a willingness to continue the conversation is also critical.

To help employers gain confidence in talking to employers about workplace mental health and stress, check out these getting started guides provided by OSHA for senior managers and front-line supervisors

Activities and Programs to Improve Mental Health

According to the UGK survey, mental health is so important in the workplace that 81% of employees worldwide would prioritize good mental health over a high-paying job and 64% said they’d take a pay cut for a job that better supports their mental wellness. Meanwhile, a study by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 81% of survey respondents said that employers’ support for mental health is an important consideration when looking for work.

When such support is offered, employees find it beneficial. The APA study found that 94% of those who say their employer has people on-site who have received mental health training feel this support is effective. 

Clearly, employers would do well to address and articulate their policies on mental wellness in the workplace. 

While many activities and programs can positively impact mental health, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. The most successful programs prioritize identifying the stressors associated with a particular job, industry, or workplace and taking practical steps to remove or reduce them.   

A few firms that have invested time and money in mental wellness programs are cited in this article by Johns Hopkins University and include Unilever, the consumer products company behind brands like Dove, Hellmann’s, and Ben & Jerry’s, and international management consulting firm, Oliver Wyman (a business of Marsh McLennan). Their programs are inspirational:

Unilever is actively supporting its employees’ mental health through several initiatives. It has trained 4,000 global staff members as “mental health champions” to recognize signs of mental health struggles and refer colleagues to appropriate professionals.

Moreover, Unilever is a founding partner of the Global Business Collaboration (GBC) for Better Workplace Mental Health, advocating proactive measures to foster a positive mental health culture. They empower employees to prioritize mental well-being, offer resources, and transparently measure their impact to inspire change within and beyond their organizations.

Oliver Wyman provides round-the-clock professional counseling services to employees free of charge and designates “Recharge” days where offices are closed, allowing staff to disconnect. Additionally, Oliver Wyman has formed a global wellness Champion Network to offer mutual support among workers and has partnered with organizations like the City Mental Health Alliance and This Can Happen to advocate for workplace wellness.

Leveraging Technology for Mental Health Support

Digital technology can help shape workplace mental health solutions and programs. Tools and applications that promote mental health and resilience in the workplace include:

  • Self-assessment tools. Mobile apps provide a quick and easy way for employees to assess their mental health and be connected to personalized support, including exercises and therapists.
  • Apps and wearable devices that track moods, emotions, activities, and heart rate. Several tools allow employers to anonymously aggregate data to inform findings about trends in stress levels, such as during busy times of the day or month, and intervene accordingly.
  • Well-being apps that help users reduce stress, improve mental awareness (e.g. the “why” behind their stress), and offer coping strategies.
  • On-demand EAPs that provide app-based and virtual mental health coaching, therapy, and clinical services.

Conclusion: Making Mental Health a Priority at Work

Companies have more opportunities than ever to promote mental health in the workplace. And the benefits are significant.  

WHO estimates that for every dollar U.S. employers spend treating common mental health issues, they receive a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. Indeed, employers can make a major difference when it comes to helping their workers prevent and manage mental health and well-being.

That’s why Acuity offers a comprehensive suite of one-stop occupational health and wellness services – delivered on-site or wherever and whenever your business needs them. 

To ensure successful outcomes for workers and employers, we also offer behavioral health and mental health case management services, including mental health screening, advocacy, education, non-medical counseling, treatment plans, fit-for-work and return-to-work evaluations, assistance with workers’ compensation, and more.

Performed in compliance with OSHA, HIPAA, and other regulatory standards, we help employees take the first step towards making better health and wellness decisions and give employers an occupational health, productivity, and financial advantage.

Learn more about our comprehensive care services or contact us today.

How Long is a Physical Good For? A Comprehensive Guide

Physical exams are a vital tool for employers, schools, and sports teams to evaluate the health and wellness of workers, kids, and athletes

How long is a physical good for? Workplace and sports physicals are typically good for one year, however, there are exceptions.

In this blog, we explain what a physical involves, its purpose, how frequently these exams should be performed, how to prepare for them, and more. 

The Importance of Regular Physical Exams

A doctor conducting a sports physical exam via telemedicine, modernizing the approach to healthcare.

Regular physical exams are especially important in physically demanding work and sports environments.

Workers in industries such as construction, law enforcement, firefighting, and truck driving should undergo regular physicals to ensure they are fit for work and can complete job-related tasks without risk to health and safety and in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Certain industries, such as those regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), mandate employee physical exams as a condition of employment.

The purpose of a sports physical is to detect health problems and physical limitations that may interfere with an athlete’s participation in sports, such as past injuries, heart problems, allergies, strength, vision, and hearing issues.

Regular evaluations can also detect early signs of disease, drug and alcohol use, and more. In addition, physical exams provide a medical baseline that is used to track an individual’s health or injuries over time. 

Physicals offer additional benefits, especially in the workplace. Physicals can decrease absenteeism, increase productivity and performance, and improve the overall health and well-being of employees, making for a happier workforce.

What is a Physical Exam

Physicals are intended to assess an individual’s ability to complete certain tasks. 

A physical exam assesses the overall health of the individual and can include the following tests and screening.

  • Vital signs (heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, height, and weight)
  • Hearing and vision
  • Muscle strength and flexibility
  • Bone health
  • Posture
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Psychological health
  • Physical ability and stamina
  • Reproductive health

An individual will also be asked about their personal and family health history, medications they take, drug and alcohol use, reproductive health concerns and other lifestyle questions. Various laboratory tests may also be ordered, including drug and alcohol screening.

An evaluator may also assess a person’s ability to handle stress and inquire about other behavioral factors or even conduct a full psychological evaluation.

Physical and stamina ability will also be tested if the job involves heavy lifting or labor.

The Essence of DOT Physicals

A Department of Transportation (DOT) physical is a medical exam that screens commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and employees to ensure the safety of the workforce and the public. Periodic DOT physicals keep the public safe by ensuring that drivers, train drivers, etc. can handle the physical demands and emotional stressors of their work. 

DOT physicals are especially important in detecting chronic conditions that can impede an employee’s ability to perform work-related tasks, such as vision issues or drug and alcohol use. They also ensure employers are compliant with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules and minimize workplace absences due to injury.  

In the case of truck drivers, a DOT physical is a requirement for obtaining a commercial driver’s license and is mandatory for drivers who will operate a vehicle that:

  • Is engaged in interstate commerce or has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds.
  • Transports hazardous materials.
  • Can carry more than 15 occupants (8 if the driver is a paid employee)

The exam is performed by a DOT-certified medical examiner. 

A DOT physical is not mandated on an annual basis; its validity extends for a period of 24 months. However, a medical examiner may issue a certificate for less than 24 months if a health condition, such as high blood pressure, requires monitoring. If an employer were to request an annual physical from a driver without reasonable cause to suspect any health issues, they could potentially be in violation of employment laws.

Similar to FMCSA rules, the requirements for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) physicals were established by the U.S. Department of Labor to ensure that employees work in a safe and healthful environment. 

By setting and enforcing guidelines and providing training, outreach, education and assistance, employers are required to comply with all applicable standards. In addition, they must also comply with the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act, which requires employers to keep their workplace free of serious recognized hazards, and evaluate whether an individual is physically, mentally, and emotionally fit to work.

Differentiating Between Types of Physicals

There are many types of physicals that individuals can undergo, including sports physicals, annual physicals, and pre-employment physicals. Let’s take a closer look:

Sports physicals: Sports physicals evaluate the health of athletes – both adults and children – before they can participate in sports (although they are not required for adults who take part in recreational team sports). Also known as pre-participation physical examinations (PPE), these physicals focus on key physical characteristics, such as blood pressure, heart health, muscle strength, flexibility, bone health, vision, and hearing. A sports physical is an important aid in clearing an individual for strenuous physical activity. Ideally, they should be performed before each sports season and following an injury. These physicals are also a great time for kids and adults to baseline their health, receive the appropriate vaccinations, and update their health information.

Annual physicals: A primary care provider typically performs an annual physical to assess overall health and detect chronic conditions. A provider will check blood pressure, weight, skin, reflexes, breathing, heart rate, and more. They may order a complete blood count; kidney, liver, and thyroid function tests; a lipid panel (cholesterol screening); and more.

Pre-employment physicals: A pre-employment physical exam is often required by employers before an offer is extended to a job applicant. These exams help ensure that a candidate has the physical ability to perform a job safely and without risk of injury. They may also screen for drug and alcohol use. Importantly, a pre-employment exam helps employers make informed, objective decisions about hiring based on an applicant’s physical and behavioral health. Employers can also monitor employee health over time to ensure they have the best-performing team.

Key Components of a Physical Exam

During a physical exam, a medical examiner will evaluate an individual’s medical history, including physical, emotional, and mental conditions. Physical exams are often customized to the role, industry, employer requirements, and type of sport. A physical exam can include an assessment of the following:

  • Vital signs (heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, height, and weight).
  • Physical abilities (vision, hearing, etc.)
  • Spine and musculoskeletal
  • Neurological
  • Strength and stamina (especially if the position involves operating heavy equipment or machinery)
  • Mental and behavioral health (such as the ability to handle the psychological pressures of the job)
  • Functional limitations
  • Nutritional assessment
  • Heat and hydration risk factors

Evaluating Primary and Sensory Organs

During a physical exam, a medical provider will use several techniques to capture a person’s medical health. These include:

  • Inspecting (observing issues, such as bruising or abnormal eye movement)
  • Palpating (pressing the abdomen to monitor the internal organs)
  • Percussing (checking the density of certain areas of the body)
  • Auscultating (listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope)

Vision and hearing tests may also be performed. 

Assessing Physical Strength, Flexibility, and Posture

Occupations and sports that are physically demanding may require a more rigorous screening and involve an assessment of the following:

  • Muscle strength and flexibility
  • Posture analysis
  • Physical agility (to include pull-ups, push-ups, planks, sandbags, step-ups, forcible entry, equipment carry, and dummy drag tests)
  • Manual dexterity (including after physical exertion)
  • Motion range
  • Repetitive movements
  • And more

Frequency of a Physical Exam

How long a physical is good for or how often you should get a physical, depends on factors like age, health conditions, sports specific requirements or work regulations as outlined in OSHA or DOT.  For example, a DOT physical exam is valid for up to 24 months, so a CMV driver or other safety-sensitive employee must pass a DOT physical exam every two years. However, a medical examiner may determine that certain individuals – such as those with chronic medical conditions – are monitored and screened more frequently.

Sports physicals are typically performed once each year or following an injury. 

Physical Exams by State

There are state-specific requirements and guidelines for physical exams. For example, most states require that children complete a sports physical before they can participate in their chosen school sport. 

Indeed, many parents have questions such as “How long is a sports physical good for in Illinois?” or “How long are sports physicals good for in Texas?”

In Illinois, a sports physical is good for 395 calendar days from the date the physical was performed. However, in Texas, a sports physical must be completed before the student athlete’s 7th, 9th, and 11th grade years – essentially every two years. Be sure to check the requirements in your state.

Preparing for Your Physical Exam

Health professional preparing for an offsite exam, emphasizing the thoroughness required in physical evaluations.

To prepare for a physical exam, individuals should gather as much information as they can, including:

  • A valid form of identification.
  • Contact information for their primary care provider or specialist.
  • Records of recent office visits, including lab results, prescriptions, and doctor’s notes. These are particularly important if the person has a chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, or a history of heart attack or stroke. 
  • A signed letter from their physician stating they can perform tasks, including driving, without restrictions.
  • Recent bloodwork results, including blood sugar readings.
  • List of all medications, including supplements.
  • Immunization records.
  • Vision glasses, contact lenses, or hearing aids.
  • Any history of injury.

Patients should also check whether they need to fast before a physical.

To prepare for a DOT physical, additional preparation is required. This may include avoiding alcohol and any drug (legal or prescription) that could interfere with blood test results for at least 24 hours prior to the exam. The patient should consult their medical provider or examination clinic staff prior to arrival for the exam.

Post-Physical Recommendations and Follow-Ups

After a physical, an individual may encounter several outcomes.

Often additional information or testing is required before a person is cleared for work or sports. Exams can also reveal health issues that need to be addressed as a condition of passing the test.

If an individual fails a physical exam, they are entitled to a second opinion. For example, if their blood pressure spikes during the examination, but is typically low, they can request a physical from another medical professional.

Addressing Common Questions About HIPAA and DOT

What’s involved in a physical?

A physical examination will typically include an assessment of weight, blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate, as well as a check of your vision, hearing, lungs, nose, and throat. Physical can also include drug and alcohol testing.

How do you prepare for a physical?

The best way to prepare for a physical is to simply prepare. Having the right information at hand – including medical history, a list of medications, current vaccinations, and so on – can ensure a seamless process and avoid follow-ups. Some physicals involving blood work require patients to refrain from eating or drinking several hours before the exam (though water is typically fine). In the days before a physical, it’s important to avoid drugs and alcohol and get a good night’s sleep. Good practice is to ask what is required and how best to prepare for the physical from the clinic prior to arrival.  

How many times a year is a physical?

How often a person should get a physical depends on whether it’s an annual medical physical, a sports physical, or an employment physical.

In general, healthy people should book a physical with their primary care provider every two to three years in their 20s, every other year in their 30s, and annually thereafter. 

A sports physical is typically required each sports season or after an injury. However, each state has different requirements for school sports participation. Some require a physical each school calendar year, others at two-year intervals.

Pre-employment and employment physicals are performed according to an employer’s requirements. However, OSHA, DOT, and other regulated professions, have specific required timelines for these exams. 

Ensuring Optimal Health Through Regular Physicals

Physicals are an essential part of occupational and sports health and safety. Regular examinations can prevent injury, maintain health, and in certain instances, ensure compliance with laws and regulations. 

A proactive approach to physical exams can also minimize absenteeism, improve productivity, reduce accidents, and lower healthcare costs.

Acuity’s physical exam services keep employees and individuals safe, healthy, and productive. Available 24/7 wherever they are needed, our solutions are cost-effective, convenient, compliant, and tailored to each organization’s unique needs. 

Learn more about how Acuity can help you meet your physical examination needs.

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Construction Scheduling Techniques: A Comprehensive Guide for Effective Project Management

Construction projects are complex endeavors that, without proper planning, can easily run over budget and schedule. That’s why having a reliable set of construction scheduling techniques is so essential.

Construction scheduling helps ensure construction projects stay on track and within budget. Implementing construction scheduling techniques before construction and throughout the entire project can also limit risks and delays, all while improving the overall quality of the effort.

In this blog, we dig deep into what construction scheduling is, explore different construction scheduling techniques, identify best practices for effective construction scheduling, and more.

Understanding the Basics of Construction Scheduling

Construction scheduling involves the detailed planning of construction projects from start to completion. This can include pre-construction submittals/plans, physical construction, oversight, and project closeout, among other activities required by individual construction project contracts.

TA good construction schedule details who is responsible for tasks, when those tasks need to be done, and in what order they should be completed. Construction schedules also give project managers the details they need to equip their construction projects with the appropriate amount of people and equipment. With this information in hand, construction teams have a better chance of finishing a project more efficiently and correctly.

What is Construction Scheduling?

Construction scheduling involves compiling all the tasks and deliverables necessary to complete a construction project. Each deliverable is assigned a deadline and expected date of completion. Tasks are assembled in timeline order and are assigned to individuals.

Construction schedules serve as a “single source of truth” for the project. With a detailed construction schedule, construction teams and clients understand where things stand at all times. Thus, the schedule provides clarity into assigned roles, helps increase communication and collaboration, allows for more accurate budgeting, and allows clients to receive real-time updates on the status of their construction projects.

Key Components of a Construction Schedule

Construction schedules can be written or illustrated, depending on the preferences of the construction project manager and their team. Whatever the method, all construction schedules share some common characteristics, including:

  • Tasks: The various tasks that need to be completed during construction
  • Deadlines: When those tasks need to be completed and their expected durations
  • Dependencies: Relationships between tasks that drive the project schedule
  • Constraints: Issues that could cause deviation in the schedule
  • Roles: The individuals or teams responsible for completing the tasks
  • Milestones: Milestones signaling the end of a phase of the project. Milestones are different from deadlines, which are specific to certain tasks. Most construction schedules will have more deadlines listed than milestones.

Exploring Various Construction Scheduling Techniques

exploring construction scheduling techniques

Though the goal and purpose of every construction schedule is the same, the ways in which construction schedules are created and implemented differ. Construction managers have a number of construction scheduling techniques to choose from for their projects. Among the most common methods are critical path, last planner system and pull planning, program evaluation and review, and Earned Value Management. Let’s review these methods.

Critical Path Method (CPM)

The critical path method (CPM) focuses on the tasks or activities that are most critical for the successful completion of a construction project. The construction manager identifies the minimum tasks required to complete a project using the CPM. Tasks are listed in terms of dependencies (i.e., Task B cannot be completed until Task A is done). The most urgent dependencies are then prioritized.

There are several steps involved in the CPM. They include:

  • Identifying and listing all construction project tasks.
  • Determining the order in which the tasks must be completed (including dependencies between tasks).
  • Estimating how much time it will take to complete the tasks.
  • Creating a network diagram that shows tasks, dependencies, and duration to complete tasks.
  • Identifying the “critical path.”

The critical path is the list of tasks that will take the longest time to complete. Identifying these tasks is important, as any delay in any one task could result in the entire project running over schedule and over budget. Once these tasks are identified, the construction project manager will understand where to prioritize their team’s work.

The CPM offers many benefits, including:

  • Allows managers to schedule activities around the most important tasks.
  • Provides managers with the ability to schedule activities in a more efficient and effective manner.
  • Provides visibility into which parts of the construction project might be more flexible (i.e., tasks that are not on the critical path).
  • Offers a better chance that construction projects will be completed on time—thereby satisfying contractual obligations.
  • Assurance of on-time invoicing upon completion of the construction project.

Last Planner System (LPS) and Pull Planning

The goal behind the Last Planner® System (LPS) is to make construction projects as lean and efficient as possible. Created by the Lean Construction Institute, the LPS “promotes the creation of a predictable workflow among various parties so that it achieves reliable results.” It does this by providing construction managers with a five-phase system that includes:

  1. Master planning: During this phase, the most important components of the construction project are identified, listed, and scheduled. These include major project milestones, tasks, and corresponding deadlines. The main goal or goals of the project are also determined to ensure that all tasks align with the client’s needs.
  2. Phase planning: In the second phase, processes are clearly defined, schedules are honed, and a final execution plan is created.
  3. Lookahead planning (AKA, “make-ready planning”): Here, all tasks are carefully reviewed by the construction managers (in this case, also known as “the last planners”), who look for any possible risks or obstacles that could stand in the way of the project being completed successfully and efficiently. Things they might look for include:
    1. The availability of labor and materials.
    2. Access to equipment.
    3. Other obstacles to construction, including conflicting documentation, time to receive required permits, etc.
  4. Weekly work planning: Construction teams review the tasks outlined in phase planning and create weekly work plans around those tasks. Each team is responsible for completing the tasks they’ve been assigned.
  5. Learning: During the final phase, construction teams analyze and measure the results of their work and learn from their findings in order to enhance and improve their processes. Learning is generally comprised of:
    1. Daily coordination meetings, during which last planners meet to discuss the overall performance of their teams and the status of the construction project. These meetings give planners the chance to proactively make adjustments as needed.
    2. Analysis of key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to ensure the project is on track to achieve its goals. KPIs that are often analyzed include the percentage of the plan that has been completed, the percentage of tasks that are ready to begin as planned, and the analysis of future tasks to begin planning for their implementation.

In addition to daily coordination meetings, many last planners augment their planning processes with daily huddles, where managers meet with construction teams to discuss that day’s tasks and deadlines. Huddles help teams stay on track. They also give them the opportunity to discuss potential issues before they arise and circumvent them before they have a chance to derail a project.

Finally, pull-planning is a component of the LPS in which resources – personnel, equipment, materials, etc. – only arrive at the construction site when needed. Think of it as a variation of the just-in-time inventory system that many plant managers use to align the receipt of raw materials with their production schedules. Pull-planning allows last planners to create a more efficient construction process by only receiving the required assets when they are actually needed.

Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)

Construction project planners begin the PERT technique by identifying tasks within the project and their expected timeframes for completion. Managers then identify and prioritize the most critical tasks and create an estimated timeline that references the sequence of tasks, dependencies between tasks, and the expected time it will take to complete each task.

Note that while there is some overlap between the PERT method and CPM, they each serve slightly different use cases. The PERT is mainly used as a time estimation tool and is best applied when the timeframes for completion of tasks cannot be completely and accurately defined. The CPM is generally used when the timeline to complete tasks is more easily predictable (for example, based on the time it took to complete tasks in past projects).

Unlike CPM, a PERT schedule is always presented graphically. This is known as a PERT chart. Similar to a Gantt chart, a PERT chart displays the tasks and the order in which they must be completed in an easy-to-read diagram. PERT charts use arrows to show the direction of the construction workflow and mark each task with its expected completion timeline (for example, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, etc.). PERT charts may also show project milestones, call out dependencies between tasks, and more.

Earned Value Management

More of a project management methodology rather than a pure construction scheduling technique, Earned Value Management (EVM) is nevertheless important to ensuring projects remain on track. Also known as Earned Value Analysis, EVM employs three different values to calculate the status of projects: Planned Value (PV), Actual Cost (AC), and Earned Value (EV).

PV measures the amount of work that should be done by certain points in the schedule as well as by the completion of the project. It is measured using the mathematical formula % complete/planned x budget at completion = total planned value. It’s a good tool for measuring the value of the work being done as the project moves through its various phases.

AC shows the actual costs incurred during specific periods throughout the project. These costs accumulate through the lifecycle of the project, finally resulting in a total amount when the project reaches its conclusion.

EV monitors how much money should have been spent at each phase of the project, rather than how much was actually spent. It is calculated using the mathematical formula % complete x budget at completion = EV. It shows the monetary value of the work that’s been done up to a certain point.

EVM offers many benefits, including:

  • Project forecasting and risk management. EVM allows construction managers to foresee problems before they occur, allowing them to course correct and avoid potential issues.
  • Progress tracking. Construction projects can be closely monitored from start to finish, ensuring that work takes place on time and on budget. With EVM insights, managers can accelerate work, ramp up hiring, procure additional equipment, and more as necessary.
  • Resource planning and forecasting. Managers can use EVM to see if their current resources are appropriate for the tasks they have planned. They can right-size resources to fit within the project scope and budget.
  • Quantifying value. Managers can quantify the value of the work being performed through PV, AC, and EV – at any point during the construction process. They can then make decisions on how to improve the process if necessary.

The Role of Technology in Construction Planning

Integrating technology in construction scheduling techniques

Technology plays a major role in modern construction planning. Construction projects are simply too large and complex for human beings to coordinate on their own. Technologies, including construction scheduling software, provide many benefits to help keep construction projects on time and under budget, including automation, better communication among teams, and more. These and other features simplify and optimize the scheduling process.

Advancements in Scheduling Software

Construction scheduling software has enjoyed many advancements over the past few years. Today, most construction scheduling tools are cloud-based and easily accessible via mobile devices, making it easier for project managers and planners to keep track of all phases of construction from anywhere.

One of the most popular construction scheduling tools is the Gantt chart. A Gantt chart is a bar chart that shows dependencies between tasks and allows project managers to create a visual hierarchy that shows the relationship between critical and less critical tasks. Many different software tools can be used to create a Gantt chart. Some of the most popular include Microsoft Project, Oracle Primavera P6, GanttPRO Project Planner, Smartsheet, and others.

The Project Evaluation and Review Technique employs a similar visual aid to display the relationship between tasks and their expected times for completion. Again, several software tools can be used to create PERT charts, including Microsoft Excel, Lucidchart, SmartDraw, and other popular workflow management tools.

Beyond charts, many other innovative technologies are increasingly playing a vital role in construction scheduling, including:

  • Simulation tools, which allow construction project managers to simulate the impact a change to the task schedule will have on the construction schedule, costs, and the outcome.
  • Building Information Modeling (BIM) and 4D scheduling, which can provide managers with digital representation of their projects. When linked with a construction schedule, they can provide a visual window in the progress of the construction project over time.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), which are embedded in many modern construction technologies and can be used to automate the construction process, resulting in greater efficiencies.

Comprehensive project and portfolio management software incorporates many of these features to make it easier for managers to visualize and track the progress of construction projects. For example, Oracle Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project allow project managers to plan, manage, and execute all aspects of their projects, including scheduling.

Both tools have their unique benefits. Whereas each has features that align well with the CPM, Oracle Primavera P6 provides more in-depth functionality, including “what-if” scenario analyses that show what is likely to happen if part of the project is changed or is not completed on time. Managers of large-scale construction projects may opt for the functionality that Oracle provides. Conversely, Microsoft Project provides a more streamlined approach to CPM, with visualizations primarily through a Gantt chart. It could be the software of choice for managers in charge of smaller or less complex construction projects.

Integrating Technology with Traditional Techniques

Simulation tools, BIM and 4D scheduling software, AI and ML, and other technologies can be integrated with traditional construction scheduling techniques to provide enhanced efficiency and a greater chance of success and customer satisfaction. Indeed, many of these technologies are essential to traditional construction scheduling techniques. The tools used to create PERT charts, for example, are integral to the PERT technique.

Technologies like AI, ML, BIM, and simulation tools can be integrated into various phases within traditional construction scheduling techniques. For instance, a project manager could use BIM and/or simulation in the initial planning phase of the last planner system. Meanwhile, employing AI and ML throughout the life cycle of the construction project can yield valuable insights that can be used in daily huddles and other planning sessions to improve efficiency.

Best Practices for Effective Construction Scheduling

Team collaboration in construction scheduling

Since construction projects vary in size, scope, and complexity, it makes sense to simplify their planning as best as possible. One way to do this is to apply the following best practices, which can help construction managers on any project, no matter its size, achieve their desired goals.

Setting Realistic Timelines and Milestones

Having pre-set realistic timelines, baselines, and milestones is critically important to the success of any construction project, where success is predicated on meeting deadlines. The success of a project is measured against baseline schedules and performance management plans, with milestones typically driven by activities and durations created in the approved baseline schedule. Setting achievable timelines, baselines, and milestones prevents projects from running over budget and time.

To set realistic timelines, construction project managers should:

  • Break work into smaller and easily achievable tasks.
  • Refer to previous similar projects and use their task timeframes as a reference.
  • Consider any potential obstacles that could impede the completion of tasks (and plan the timeframe accordingly).

Resource Management and Allocation

Effective resource management and allocation can mean the difference between a construction project that is finished on time and within budget versus one that experiences cost and schedule overruns. This process is known as “resource loading,” where hours and costs are loaded into the schedule for project control and tracking.

Resource loadingt and allocation begin in the planning phase of project scheduling. Here, project managers identify the resources they will need during construction, including labor, equipment, materials, and other assets.

Many construction scheduling tools also provide features that allow managers to track resources throughout construction by providing real-time feedback on labor hours, available equipment, and more. Managers can make adjustments to resources as needed during construction, adjusting labor schedules, ordering more materials, and taking other steps to proactively manage the schedule. They can also allocate resources to critical tasks as necessary.

Overcoming Common Challenges in Construction Scheduling

While construction scheduling is exceedingly beneficial in helping all construction projects run smoothly, it’s not without its challenges. Here’s how to manage one of the most common pitfalls associated with construction scheduling—project delays.

Dealing with Project Delays

Many things contribute to construction project delays, including budget conflicts or inaccuracies, lack of communication, and a poorly defined scope of work. One of the biggest culprits behind project delays is simply poor project planning, which can include setting unrealistic timelines, not prioritizing critical tasks, and other mistakes that can back up a project.

The best way to deal with project delays is to use a construction scheduling technique to carefully plan out the scope and timeline of the project, even before breaking ground. Construction schedules provide detailed guidelines for all project work and when the work needs to be done. Having this schedule in advance can mitigate the potential for delays.

If a delay does occur, construction scheduling techniques can still help, especially if they include regular planning meetings throughout the course of the project. These meetings can provoke ideas on how to manage the delays so that they do not significantly impact the rest of the project.

Mastering Construction Scheduling for Project Success

Construction scheduling isn’t a “nice to have,” but a necessary component of successful construction project management. Adopting leading construction scheduling techniques and pairing them with the right technology can help builders keep their projects on schedule and under budget, resulting in more efficient and cost-effective builds.

Acuity has decades of experience helping organizations with construction management of projects of all sizes. We help project managers select and implement the right scheduling strategy and apply sustainable business practices, proven project management techniques, and effective cost analysis and engineering principles to help our clients create and manage construction schedules that work for their projects.

Contact Acuity to learn more about our construction scheduling services.