In March of 2020, we had no idea what was to come over the next two years that would dramatically change how we viewed employee safety and health within our organization. As an essential service provider needing to keep employees safe at work, Centuri Group quickly assembled a Pandemic Response Team that was focused on sending office workers home to work remotely and developing strategies for keeping our frontline employees safe while continuing to provide services to our utility partners. Fast forward two years and we have learned so much about the impact the pandemic has had on our employees’ health and well-being.

Safety has always been a top priority for Centuri and now we are incorporating an equally important focus on mental well-being and psychological safety. In March 2021, our HR Operations Support team attended a webinar about suicide prevention where we learned that the construction industry has one of the highest suicide rates amongst any industry. Suicide in the construction industry is 4x more prevalent than the national average and suicide in our industry is 5x greater than that of all other construction fatalities combined. When you layer in the fact that veterans are a key source of hiring and the rate of suicide for veterans is 1.5x greater than non-veterans, our risk increases.

In May 2021, after receiving resounding support from the company’s Executive Leadership Team, Centuri published its first communication to all employees in May for Mental Health Awareness Month and continued to provide information about mental health and suicide prevention in the months that followed with a strong focus toward observing Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month in September. We secured funding to create and distribute materials to all employees focusing on the importance of suicide prevention and making resources available to everyone. On World Suicide Prevention Day (9/10), we asked all employees to wear the provided t-shirts and send pictures of local teams showing their support. We received so many pictures, words of encouragement, and appreciation from across all our operating companies in the U.S and Canada. We struck a chord and found a topic the enterprise could rally around and in August 2021 created Centuri’s first Employee Resource Group (ERG), Mental Health – Be Well, Mind & Body. As the Executive Sponsor of our Mental Health ERG, I am working with our Human Resource Director to ensure we have a strong partnership between both the Safety, Health, Environment function and Human Resources to increase our focus on employee health and well-being – mind and body.

“Safety has always been a top priority for Centuri and now we are incorporating an equally important focus on mental well-being and psychological safety.”

Centuri’s employee-led Mental Health ERG, recognizes the importance of mental health and creating a culture of support for our employees’ well-being and mental health needs. It is our goal to develop and disseminate resources to assist employees and their families who are working to overcome life challenges. This resource group serves as a network and support system for employees to have a safe place to reach out for help without fear of employment repercussions without the stigma of mental health illness.

In 8 months, membership in the ERG has grown by 150 percent. The members are very passionate about this topic and helping others. While our initial focus was to prevent suicides in our industry, we have quickly evolved into a group that is making an impact on improving awareness of mental health challenges, reducing the stigma of seeking help, and providing resources about where to go for help.