Costain: enabling employees to create their own "good jobs" - Business in the Community

Costain: enabling employees to create their own “good jobs”

After signing the Mental Health at Work Commitment, gap analysis at Costain determined the required actions to meet the six standards within the Commitment. The pandemic placed renewed emphasis on job design, a key aspect of Standard 2: “Proactively ensure work design and organisational culture drive positive mental health outcomes”.

enable employees to create their own “good jobs”

A “good job” is one that is good for employees, promotes and protects mental health. They are defined in the “Better Work” component of Business in the Community’s (BITC) Workwell model as involving three elements: good work, job design and psychological safety.

To achieve this, alongside a flexible working policy, Costain promotes an informal, “dynamic working” approach focusing on wellbeing, productivity and performance. It allows individuals to manage their work/life balance and supports the drive to “Eliminate Harm”, specifically through the design process and a review of job design aligned with the expectations of Standard 2. “Eliminating Harm” is part of Costain’s three responsible business commitments that underpin its leading-edge strategy which sets its long term goals. COVID-19 accelerated this programme, and it was imperative that Costain engaged with the workforce to obtain their feedback on work design, organisational structure, working conditions and personal needs.

In April 2020, Costain was responding to change, adapting job design at a pace. As offices closed and sites were operating at reduced capacity with strict social distancing, they had to think differently about job environments and make the dynamic working approach the new ‘normal’. Making what was once viewed as impossible, possible, has in many ways accelerated the approach to dynamic working and broken-down perceived barriers.

With colleagues split between working remotely and working on-site, all employees had to be listened to, recognising that the pandemic was affecting everybody differently and there is no ‘one size fits all approach’ to mental health and wellbeing.

The impact on employee’s jobs at Costain

Twenty Leadership Impact Day sessions were held across the organisation and almost 1,400 people completed the Your Wellbeing Survey.

A working group was established to analyse the data from the survey and the anecdotal feedback from the impact day using the Mental Health at Work Commitment as the foundation, an action plan was developed to enhance support and wellbeing offerings to colleagues. With input from the Costain Behavioural Management team, being implemented into line manager toolkits.

What if your job was good for you?

People do not expect to be physically injured at work, and nor should their mental health be damaged. However, in the 12 months before BITC’s Mental Health at Work 2020 survey, developed in partnership with Bupa and the BITC Wellbeing Leadership Team, 41% of employees experienced poor mental health caused by work. Although work can be part of the cause of poor mental health, it can also be part of the solution to improving it. COVID-19 has acted as a powerful catalyst to transform the working world. For example, employees who never dreamed of working remotely and flexibly are now doing so.

BITC’s What If Your Job Was Good For You? report identifies actions employers can take to transform wellbeing at work. It contains two calls to action for employers that build on lessons learnt from the pandemic.

  1. Treat mental health and safety with the same importance as physical health and safety.
  2. Collaborate with colleagues to enable employees to create their own ‘good jobs’ within organisational parameters.

The What If Your Job Was Good for You? report was delivered in partnership with the Business in the Community Wellbeing Leadership Team and Affinity Health at Work, and supported by CIPD

Next steps


  1. Business in the Community (2020) Mental Health at Work 2020: key findings.