The Construction Well-Being Initiative With Vivian Burgnon and Sebastien de Ghellink | 216

COGE 216 | Construction Wellbeing

You understand that your money is made in the field by the hardworking labor force who are building your projects. Therefore, it’s crucial that you prioritize their physical and mental well-being.
Construction is difficult. Suicide rates in the industry are high, and substance abuse and alcoholism are common. The toll construction takes on the body and mind is something that probably everyone has experienced at some point in their career.

In this week’s episode of Construction Genius, Vivian Burgnon and Sebastien de Ghellink of Skill Signal discuss the Construction Wellbeing Initiative (CWI), which they have created in collaboration with Princeton University.

CWI collects, analyzes, and compiles field-tested well-being interventions into an online public repository to help increase the physical and mental well-being of construction workers on job sites.

The initiative is seeking to understand the sources of the mental health crisis that’s plaguing the industry and compile field-tested solutions to increase the physical and mental well-being of construction workers on job sites and around the nation. Their team plans to publish a comprehensive online repository of these interventions, which could be used as public resources available to anyone desiring to increase the physical and mental well-being of construction workers on their job sites and within their organizations.

You must prioritize the physical and mental well-being of your workers. This podcast episode is an excellent resource for anyone interested in well-being in construction and how we can work together to improve it.

Watch the episode here

Listen to the podcast here

The Construction Well-Being Initiative With Vivian Burgnon and Sebastien de Ghellink

Your money is made in the field by the labor force who are building your projects. Therefore, it is essential that their physical and mental well-being is optimized. That’s what we’re going to talk about in this episode. My guests are Vivian Burgnon and Sebastien de Ghellinck. In collaboration with Princeton University, they have created the Construction Wellbeing Initiative.

Their company is SkillSignal. They’re the Founders of that company, and they’ve collaborated with Princeton University to create this initiative, which is aimed to collect, analyze, and compile field-tested well-being interventions into an online public repository to help increase the physical and mental well-being of construction workers on job sites. That’s what we’re going to talk about. You’re going to find this conversation useful. It’s very interesting and provocative. Thank you for reading.

Vivian and Sebastien, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having us, Eric. We’re excited to be here.

Eric, how are you?

It’s a pleasure. You guys have a particular passion and focus that is extremely important. It’s the Construction Wellbeing Initiative. I’d like to kick off right away, Vivian, by asking you what is the Wellbeing Initiative?

Over the summer, Sebastien and I were accepted into a fellowship program with Princeton University’s Kahneman-Treisman Center for Behavioral Science and Public Policy. What that means is that we are considered what they call Associate Practitioners in Residence. Out of it, we started the Construction Wellbeing Initiative, or CWI for short.

Through this initiative, we are looking to understand the sources of the mental health crisis that’s plaguing our industry to compile industry experience and analyze field-tested solutions that will increase the physical and mental well-being of construction workers on job sites and around the nation. Our team plans to publish a comprehensive online repository of these interventions, which could be used as public resources available to anyone desiring to increase the physical and mental well-being of construction workers on their job sites and within their organizations.

As you’ve been diving into this, what are the sources of mental health issues in construction?

Fatigue, opioids, despair, burnout, depression, and loneliness. Suicide rates in the industry are seen at the top. Substance abuse is very common with alcoholism. We have the opioid epidemic that affects many of our workers in the fields and day in, day out, and the heavy bodily impact it has for everybody that’s building. There’s a list of grim health crisis effects on our workers, and we could go on about that one.

Construction is notoriously a harsh industry. It’s a lot of men working with each other. It’s probably one of the last industries where grown men screaming at each other is something that still happens. I worked for a long time in other industries, which was probably a big no-no. We all know that construction is a hard place. This is something that was always latent. The toll that it takes on your body and thinking, you may be away from your family for a long time. Building something and being away from your loved ones, alcoholism, and substance abuse in general is something that probably everyone has experienced at some point in their career. Probably, looking at the situations on job sites, what happens is that the COVID crisis exacerbated all of this.

COGE 216 | Construction Wellbeing
Construction Wellbeing: Substance abuse, in general, is something that probably everyone has experienced at some point in their career, looking at situations on job sites.


The stress went through the roof. The problems of supply chain and not knowing what you were dealing with. If you remember, in March 2020 when COVID all started, we didn’t know how COVID was being transmitted. Was it transmitted by touch? Was it transmitted only by those droplets that everyone was talking about? It was an extremely stressful situation. Those sources of mental health breakdown, whether it’s burning out or full depression to people thinking to harm themselves is something that has become much more talked about.

As you were going through that list, Vivian, you mentioned things like fatigue, loneliness, and despair, and then you mentioned things like opioid abuse, substance abuse, and alcoholism. As a construction company owner, it seems like those two things will drop into different boxes. Let me explain to you why because I’m going to test my guys for drugs. There are some that I can’t test, but I may be looking to remove some of those people from my company because I can’t have them on my job site because of safety issues and you can’t work here if you’re doing whatever that X thing.

There’s that other bucket of stuff which can be related, but is also distinct in the sense that it’s a human thing that people experience regardless of whether they’re abusing substances as a result of that, perhaps. How should a construction company approach that distinction in terms of how I described it with? In certain cases, “If you’re doing this, you can’t come to work here anymore.”

It’s got to be a top-down approach to start there. A lot of it stems from the sheer culture on the construction site. We’ve built this culture. As Sebastien had said, it’s very machismo and rough. The workers are working like slaves. You are working 7 days a week, 10 to 16-hour shifts to the bone, day in, day out, with harsh conditions, and that’s part of the culture. That’s accepted that, “This is construction. This is what needs to get done and that’s part of it.”

For a long time, that’s been ingrained in our population and there’s no changing it. From a management perspective, you’re running your organization. You have deadlines and a budget that you got to meet. That’s what they’re looking at. They’re looking at their bottom line. They want to get the project going, wrap things up, and finish the project so they can move on.

That what we’re starting to see is now that we’re bringing more awareness about the fact that our people are suffering. If we don’t have our people to continue to build, then we’re not going to have a project to begin with. We’re not going to have any business. What can we do as an organization to create a better environment for our people so that we can continue with the work? Whether it’s tweaking hours, time off, or the general humanistic needs of a project.

COGE 216 | Construction Wellbeing
Construction Wellbeing: We’re bringing more awareness about the fact that our people are suffering. If we don’t have our people, then we’re not going to have a project, to begin with. We’re not going to have any business.


Are we providing reasonable needs for them? Are they getting water? Are they getting suitable bathrooms? These are all types of things that we’re starting to look at that we’re to this day very much overlooked on a construction site, but it’s taking a lot of noise and outcries from our people to bring awareness to these general humanistic issues.

Let’s talk about that a little more in detail. Sebastien, if you want to speak to this, what can an organization do in order to begin to address some of these mental wellbeing issues?

I want to talk about an event that we held over the summer. This was back in August 2022. We had 50 construction professionals that joined us on-site at Princeton University for a full day of conversations and workshops around that exact question. “What is your experience of the mental health crisis that we’re going through in construction? What do you think should be done?” Looking at that event, it was so interesting.

I also want to add that it was construction professionals that were coming from several functions. We had people from the field, superintendents, and foremen. We had people from the insurance businesses. We had people from the office that are project managers or project executives. We had people from the safety department and directors of safety. We had people from public policy. It was an extremely interesting event because we had all of these different points of view on that specific topic of the mental health crisis and what we can do.

It was so interesting to see that people came together very quickly with the dynamics of what was happening. What are the symptoms we’re seeing in the field and at the office? What’s going on in the construction industry? We had a board full of notes that were during those discussions and going back again to those pressures, the way that financial burdens sometimes break people.

It's interesting that people could come together on the dynamics of what's going on in the mental health crisis. Click To Tweet

The typical construction situation is that if you work in construction, there are moments in your professional career where you are not getting paid because you’re between two jobs depending on the economy. Sometimes that period can be short. Financial instability is something that lives in people. When you’re on a job, you have the stress of the logistics, scheduling, and typical situation where everything on a construction job is temporary.

You can be in a completely disorganized environment where things are changing every day and add supply chain problems and changes in design or requirements. You can go into very stressful situations at every level from the superintendent down to the individual trade worker who needs to execute the work. We started to touch upon those personal pressure points as well.

When you get on a construction site, you become a different person, “You’re a construction worker.” No, you come to that job and you bring your family problems with you. If you have someone at home who is sick or unwell right now, all of these things are working on your mind while you’re executing that reasonably dangerous work of building. It was so interesting to see how those symptoms and that dynamic that we’re seeing across financial, logistics, and personal pressures on anyone who is in construction. People need to understand them, even on a personal level because most people had experienced them themselves.

I keep coming back to this in my mind, it’s like one of these gangster films where you have this movie about the mob or something like that, and there’s a scene in the movie where the guy’s like, “This is the life we’ve chosen and this is the way it goes.” Another one is sports. Think about American football, for instance, which is basically modern gladiators and they do incremental things to try and improve the players’ safety, but the fact is, if you are going to play football, you are going to suffer a physical and mental toll as a result of that.

With construction, the financial aspect of it, and with the uncertainty, especially for the labor pool, I understand that, but the logistics are part of the gig. Sometimes there are these things that are out of your control and they’re out of the control of the owner of the business. As an owner of a construction company, what’s most impacted in terms of beginning to address some of these well-being issues?

Those two analogies you made, especially with sports, are right on. You can see what happened in sports lately and football, particularly when we started talking about concussions. That became something, and even if you look at something that maybe also an analogy I was thinking about now is the Armed Forces. It’s only during the second Iraq war that we started looking at PTSD. Before that, no one was talking about it. It doesn’t mean that the problem was not there, but nobody was addressing it.

It’s important to see that we’re exactly at that moment in construction. We’re starting to talk about it, which is usually the first step and it’s an essential step. Once you start talking about those symptoms and it’s getting to the minds of people, especially the decision-makers, then usually solutions will start sprouting. We started to talk about PTSD in the Armed Forces and concussions in football and looked at what happened. There was an entire movement where there was a redirection of energy around what can we do better. What can we do to help people that are suffering from those things? Even though you recognize that you can’t completely avoid them. That’s exactly the same in construction.

You can’t make a construction site risk-free. That doesn’t exist. If you’re working with equipment that’s inherently dangerous to people. First, let’s start talking about it and we’re exactly at that moment. Now, what we can see is that there is a start of a redirection of energy and resources. It’s important that those decision-makers are involved in that because they need to make those decisions to redirect the resources, time, money, and focus of the companies and the organizations towards solving those problems or at least addressing them.

Going to your question, “What can you do right now?” First and foremost, talk about it. If you talk about this subject, that’s the one thing that everyone now is getting to. It’s that step of, “Let’s talk about it. Let’s understand that this is part of our reality.” Once you start it, for each organization, it might be slightly different because some companies are not struggling with the financial burdens because they have a very good compensation program for their employees or maybe that part is taken care of. Maybe the problem is in the field, like there are way too many design changes and rules or not enough rules and it’s that uncertainty on the field.

Let’s start focusing on what’s not going well right now and let’s see how we can potentially increase that and make it better. It’s not a question of intensity. Those small incremental steps are extremely important. Don’t make it a six months toolbox stock or stand down on your job talking about mental health, stress, and what’s going on in your life that may be having an impact on the safety of this job, but make it something that you talk about. That’s going to be very important. The intensity, in this case, is always less than repetition and then taking those small incremental steps on the regular basis.

Intensity is always less than repetition. Click To Tweet

Vivian, let me ask you then. As you were involved in that discussion with the 50 folks from the construction industry, what was the one thing that they said or a couple of things that surprised you that you hadn’t thought of and that you were like, “That’s interesting?”

I have two sides to that spectrum. What’s happening on the job site or lack thereof, there were a few things that were pretty shocking. As I mentioned, the humanistic expectations are like drinkable water, bathrooms, and the basics. That was pretty surprising to hear. We know it’s a construction site. There are a lot of logistical things that you have to navigate. Especially core and shell, you’re building something from the ground up. You don’t have electricity or running water. You have to navigate and find a solution. There were dead heat instances for some contractors. They didn’t even want to take responsibility for providing water for their crews. There was a cost associated with it and that was disheartening to hear.

On the flip side, we’re interventions. There are companies out there that are already taking a lead in promoting wellbeing on the job sites. They are implementing pilot programs for weekly oil changes for their crews and haircuts. They’re bringing barbers on site because they know that their schedules involve 16-hour days, 6 to 7 days a week, and they don’t have time for basic human needs. That was heartening and we were very happy to hear that.

This is making waves. There are organizations out there that are looking at this and care about their people and want to pilot some of these programs to see the feedback and see if that moves the needle. Those were a few things that we were surprised about. We’re continuously looking and exploring those interventions is what we call them on-site. That’s one thing that we’re doing with the Construction Wellbeing Initiative. We’re collecting information on interventions that are actively being piloted or deployed on job sites or within organizations.

We’re also looking for content so if anybody has content to share what they’ve seen and this can be beyond the UK. They’re a few years ahead of us in the states with their interventions and the overall awareness of the mental health crisis in construction. They’re doing a whole lot over there. I went to a conference, London Build. There were several round tables and panelists that were discussing the well-being. A lot of it came from the pandemic. The pandemic served as a catalyst to promote the overall conversation of everybody’s experience on some level of a mental health crisis and what we can do about this. Talking about it, as Sebastien said, is that first step. Now, it’s about the interventions and the actionable steps to change or move the needle.

As you’re having this discussion then what is the biggest source of pushback that you get from the company owners and executives? I hear what you guys are saying, but then I’m thinking about my job as a construction company owner to bring the right people into the right positions. Part of that process is I’m looking to identify the guys and gals who maybe not be a fit because they don’t have themselves together and their personal lives. I’m not going to bring that guy into my business. I’m not responsible for that. There’s that pushback part from the construction company owners and executives.

Interestingly, there is not a lot of pushback. I get your question. Recruiting is an essential function of a company. Getting the right people in the right function is essential. Your responsibility as a business owner, but at the same time, we can see that usually, people don’t make many mistakes during the hiring process, especially experienced business owners. They know how it works. They have their radars and assess people pretty well.

Recruiting is very important. Getting the right people in the right function is essential. Click To Tweet

It’s usually happening later. You go through those several projects, and someone you hired several years ago now has a little bit of a lack of motivation because they’ve been doing the same thing for so long. Maybe that’s a conversation now about your star employee that used to be so good. How can we maybe up-train them so that motivation goes back higher? It’s about changing situations.

We all have them. We all have personal situations that are changing. You start a job, it’s going great, and then suddenly, you have a personal circumstance that changes. Now, your brain has changes and you’re not as efficient anymore. When we’re looking at those situations, we don’t see a lot of pushback essentially necessarily, which is great.

This is something that Vivian and I love so much about construction. Both of us grew up in real estate and construction, so we understand it pretty well. In construction, there is a sense of family. There are so many of those companies that are family-owned or even employee-owned. It’s more than if you are working at Shell or Disney. You have that sense of belonging because you are part of the family or the shareholders of the company. That camaraderie is stronger in construction, to begin with, and is something that can be used when it comes to motivating people and keeping people safe. It’s amazing to see what people are sometimes ready to do for others than what they wouldn’t do for them.

When you have friends who are hurting for some reason and going through a rough patch, there are so many people that will go through everything to make that friend better. They wouldn’t necessarily do it for themselves. It’s that sense of belonging and connection in construction is certainly something that can be used when it comes to well-being and getting people back up to the right place.

Vivian, do you want to speak about that?

I love what Sebastien said, but there also is a reality of the responsibility for who’s going to own the well-being on the job site. Is it the owner that’s going to be responsible for it? Is it the superintendent who’s going to own the leadership for that? From our meeting back in Princeton, there were a lot of comments on, “It’s always about the money.” It’s always about, “We don’t have the money to take on these interventions. We don’t have the budget to fit in time off or sick days for our crews. We don’t have the time and the money,” and that is a real reality within our industry.

Let me give you an example. I’m out in California. It hasn’t rained in California for a few years. I got my clients who are dirt movers and they’ve been kicking butt and building projects for a few years with no winter break. The winter is when the guys take off, but the reality is the projects are there to be built. I’m in this catch-22. My guys want to work. I want to build. There’s no rain, so there’s no break. That increases the stress level. What am I supposed to do in that situation?

That’s what we need to figure out. We’re looking at these alternative interventions, putting everything together, and seeing what we can do, especially when we have circumstances that are out of our control, like the weather. You can’t change the weather. We’re trying to establish a standard of different types of interventions that involve low to medium to high and monetary resources. You can do things as minimal as handing out stickers or treating your crews to lunch once a week or twice a month.

COGE 216 | Construction Wellbeing
Construction Wellbeing: We need to look at alternative interventions and see what we can do, especially when circumstances are out of our control.


Looking at larger and more costly interventions, such as bringing a company on board to do health screenings for your crew to establish that level of care. That takes more resources and more involvement, but that’s what we’re trying to look at. We’re trying to see and establish a set of standards and even a set of options for companies depending on their size and what they can contribute to the well-being of their crews, and that’s certainly an ongoing process for us.

Those small incremental steps that you’re taking are much more important than getting them one week to Disney World. It’s not talking about that. It could be around diet and nutrition, but it’s also recognizing that look, “We all want to work. There is plenty of work, but we also need to recognize that we’ve been working now nonstop for several months and we need to take a break because, at some point, the efficiency is going to slack off because you can’t do that forever. It’s diet and nutrition.

We had one client who was telling us when they come to a new job, they build basic tables and benches and bring some chairs so that people don’t need to take their lunches or sit on mailboxes. That has changed a lot of things and now the table has a basket of fruit and constantly looking at how we can make those small steps. Buying a dozen apples is not going to break the bank for anyone. It’s those small incremental steps where you can say, “We’re going to take a daily lunch break for half an hour.” That’s not going to make or break anything, but over the long haul, it will make sure that people can take those breaks and being taken care of.

As Vivian was saying, bringing in people that can help them with haircuts or all changes so when they get off the job after working for hours, they don’t need to think about making the appointment at the barber or at the car shop. We’re talking about these kinds of things. We’re talking about the weather as well, clients who put fans on jobs when they get hot. They have a place where they build shades and have cold water coolers. These are small steps, but they make a difference. That’s essentially what we’re trying to see.

As Vivian was saying, we’re trying to collect those small initiatives that people have tried or tested out and have worked or maybe haven’t. That’s exactly where we are right now in that research because we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. It’s more about trying to find out and putting those bottles in the sea, going to the world, and trying to see if people can write back about, “We had a very hot summer. We had an unusually rainy winter, and we did this to make our people feel better and not completely desperate about those situations.” That’s what we’re doing right now. We’re getting those submissions and it’s going pretty strong.

The goal of the entire exercise is to categorize those big and small interventions, categorize and tag them so that at some point, we can put all of that online, and people that are interested in these interventions don’t need to think about, “What should I do to make it better,” but they can go and see what potentially has worked for other firms already and make it happen much faster.

That’s interesting how you’re soliciting real-world examples of how well-being is being improved and then you’re collating those together into an online resource where people can tap into it and pull specific strategies for themselves and their businesses.

That’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re at the crossroads now where people are talking about it. We’re convinced that people will start acting on it, making those decisions, and redirecting those resources. Let’s make sure that when they’re starting to do that, they don’t feel like they’re now in front of something and ask, “Where do I start?” “Here is a public resource for free. Go and check it out and maybe you’ll find some ideas that will work for you as well because they’ve worked for our people as well.” That’s exactly what we’re trying to do here.

Tell me what is the length of this initiative going to be. How long are you going to be collecting the information before you publish it? Is it an ongoing thing? Tell me a little bit more about it.

It’s certainly ongoing. We joined Princeton in July 2022 officially. It’s a one-year-long fellowship program. We have one year with Princeton, but that doesn’t mean that this initiative is going to stop after that one year. Our current process is we’ve had several round tables joining all of those wanting to participate in this initiative, gathering as much information as possible from those other companies and their leaders.

We’re now in the repository creation phase. We’ve collected several submissions from the interventions in the content as I mentioned. We’re starting to evaluate those submissions. We’re still collecting submissions. For all of those that are reading, we’ll certainly share more on how to submit. In this evaluation phase, we’re using Princeton’s partnership with their team of researchers and behavioral sciences department to go through each submission or intervention and evaluate and assign a level associated with that.

When you say a level, you’re talking about the low, medium, and high. Is that what you were saying?

Correct, the level of involvement associated with that. By Q2, so hopefully May 2023, we’re looking to have this published. That’s our goal before we have the one-year mark with Princeton, we’re going to have that published and ready to go. We will continue to speak about the initiative, raise awareness around it, and build on this public repository because things will still come up from now until then. We’re looking at May 2023 for availability on it.

Let me ask you this real quick, though. Based on your work up to this point, what are 2 or 3 action items a construction company owner or senior executive should immediately take to increase the well-being of their labor and office workforce?

The most important thing is to talk about it. It’s not to put it under the rug and tell people, “Man up, we have a job to do, ” because you can do that for a while, but people have breaking points at some point. Start actively thinking of how you can go when you’re visiting a job site and asking people. “How are you doing? What’s going on?” If you do it every single time you stop by, you will start getting genuine answers from people. They’ll tell you what’s going on. That right now is the most important thing. Again, that’s coming from all the conversations we’re having with everyone that’s looking into this field. Talk needs to come first.

Most recently, the suicide hotline shifted from a 10-digit phone number to a 3-digit number, which is the 988 number. I don’t know if you’re aware of that, but we now have a suicide hotline that’s connected by dialing 988. We have several of our clients that are actively posting posters on this suicide hotline number. We’ve gotten feedback from them that it has made a difference that there have already been individuals that have used that and it’s likely because it’s been available for them to see. That’s something that’s so easy and has no cost associated with it. It’s just printing off that poster. We can send over the link suicide prevention hotline, laminate it, and post it on-site. That visual representation is something that can potentially save some people.

It’s also taking away the stigma because now we’re posting something about mental health. That means that now, that’s a conversation that we’re ready to have. We’ve seen that happening also. It’s removing a stigma, which is very important in this stage two.

Tell us a little bit more about how people can start to get involved with this wellbeing initiative and how they can submit some of their stories and some of their perspectives, please.

It’s very easy. Go to For the moment, it’s going to redirect you to a Google form, and that’s where we are asking people who are interested in this subject to submit their stories, interventions, or anything they’ve tested out at any level, superintendent, project manager, or company-wide. It doesn’t matter, but that’s what we’re doing right now. We are also in the process of already gathering some high-level information that we would like to share with people sooner rather than later. We’ll also use to start posting more information. That’s going to be the link going forward.

Vivian, anything else that you want to say on the contact aspect?

Sebastien covered it. We’re collecting those submissions. That’s where we stand. If you want to talk to us or pick our brains about anything, we’re all ears. You can contact us at our email. We also take phone calls, chats, or emails about any ideas that you may have or anything that you’d like to share. If you’d like to be a keynote speaker for our future events, we’re open to inviting anybody that would like to speak to our members of the Construction Wellbeing Initiative. We’ve had some great speakers so far from our previous events from various backgrounds. You don’t even necessarily need to be in construction. I’m sure everybody on this show would be. We’re open to any conversation or question from anybody.

Before we go here, this is not necessarily the day job that you’re doing. Tell us a little bit about the company that you guys are involved in, SkillSignal.

Vivian and I are the Owners of SkillSignal. We started the company right before the pandemic, so that was at the end of 2019. SkillSignal is a whole safety compliance and risk control platform based on mobile apps that we have designed. It’s going strong. We have about 50,000 people that are using the platform now. It’s all around making sure that when people come to your job site as a GC, for example, people can access all of your safety orientation materials in several languages.

They’ll be able to be informed of what’s going on in terms of safety on your job, get to know your rules, being able to access your forms and give all of that data back to the GC, who is usually our clients. It’s giving you the advantage as a GC to be 100% compliant with everything that’s happening on your job site. It’s a very unique platform. We would love to talk to you about that as well if you’re interested to automate your safety and more collaboration system. That’s our daytime job, so that’s very interesting as well as far as we go.

Vivian, anything you’d like to close with here as we’re wrapping up the interview?

I want to thank you, Eric, for bringing us on. We’re so passionate about construction and the safety of our people. We had mentioned that both Sebastien and I come from construction backgrounds and our families are in construction. This is what we’ve known. To be able to continue to share our message and amplify our passions, we’re fortunate to be here with you, speak to your audience, and share that passion with everybody.

It’s tremendous. I’m very glad that you both came on. This is a subject, as you guys say so well, that we have to talk about, and we have to think about those interventions that we can make that will have an impact. It’s not something that you’re going to wave a magic wand. We’re not talking magic pills here. We’re talking about something that’s hard work because of the nature of the business, but incremental steps do need to be made. I appreciate both of you putting time and energy into this well-being initiative. Thanks for coming on the show.

Thank you, Eric, for having us.

Thanks again for reading. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Sebastien and Vivian. Keep in mind that website that they mentioned,, you can go out there and submit some of your field-tested well-being interventions. Those can be part of the compilation of the online public repository to help increase construction workers’ physical and mental well-being on job sites. Check out their website at, and contact them with any questions that you may have about the initiative. It’s something that’s going to be an ongoing discussion in the construction industry. It’s a worthwhile discussion. I hope that you will choose to participate in that.


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About Vivian Burgnon

COGE 216 | Construction WellbeingHaving grown up surrounded by family members in the trades, I was always led by those who understood grit and hard work which in turn helped foster a genuine passion for taking care of those that build. Following the navy, my father dedicated his professional life to the trades as a carpenter. I watched my dad day-in/day-out work to build his company and contribute to some really incredible jobs along the way. I’ll never forget those proud moments of driving past his flagship projects, noting “I helped build that”. I believe those special moments really laid the foundation for recognizing the nobility of this industry and wanting to play my part. My professional background includes working within ultra-high-end customer service positions for NYC’s elite and public health and safety with the Department of Health. In my current role as head of customer success, I tie my client-facing experience and expertise together to guide teams towards enhanced compliance and greater success. I understand that every project is different and often works in different ways, I truly love to embrace that aspect of complexity.
I have many passions outside of work, one of which is world travel, having visited 18 countries and counting. I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie and love scuba diving in new waters, scaling mountains via Ferrata, and learning new cultures.
Favorite business principle: momentum = action + desire + reflection.


About Sebastien De Ghellink

COGE 216 | Construction WellbeingI grew up in a tiny village outside Antwerp, Belgium. My grandfather, a soft-spoken aristocrat, was responsible for rebuilding Belgium’s electric grid, which was mostly destroyed during WW2. He and his team went on to deliver a safe and stable network used by millions of households and businesses. Several years later, at his funeral in 1986, his closest colleague’s eulogy not only emphasized his kindness but also how he had fought like a lion to invest in better PPE and to introduce the first safety rules at the company. Union leaders then read a long list of workers that survived thanks to his initiatives. I was 10 years old, and the goodness and fierceness of my grandfather left an enduring mark on my soul. My Dad inherited his personality, and – even though I left my family in Belgium for New Jersey – he’s my North Star in growing SkillSignal.
I went on to start my professional career in 1999, working in top international banking and insurance. I sharpened my skills in building complex digital platforms and data systems during intense projects in London, Paris, Istanbul, Cincinnati, and New York City. SkillSignal is combining my roots in the trades and the wings I built in systems management!
Most important life lesson: Becoming an Eagle Scout taught me to never back down and stay together.