How to put mental health front of mind
Feeling healthy and able to bring your whole self to work is important to us all, whether we struggle from a diagnosable condition or not. The always–on modern lifestyle we lead can present a number of problems when it comes to our state of mind. But there is also an economic cost. According to the Centre for Mental Health, the business cost of mental health at work is the equivalent of £1,300 per employee per year. In many industries, there are debates about whether businesses should take a more active role in looking after their employees’ mental health.
At Milk & Honey PR, people come first. Our culture, wellbeing and mental health commitments help us to create a land of opportunity for us, our clients and partners. Creating a happy and healthy workplace is firmly at the forefront of how we look after our team. But how can the PR industry and wider workplace do more for the mental health of their staff?
Don’t do things for a photo opp
Some workplace initiatives can have a sickly-sweet but insincere feeling. The feeling that they are created for a marketing drive rather than to look after the team. With this in mind, try to create a positive mental health programme which truly reflects the needs of your employees and addresses those concerns first. What will actually help the everyday lives of your employees? Is it introducing flexible working; helping the team to get more active through discounted gym memberships. Or supporting them in making the most of their free time through an unlimited holiday scheme?
Like most small agencies, we are taking small steps each week to improve our mental health and wellbeing culture at work. In 2020 we will be up levelling our approach, introducing new policies, and taking part in a piece of independent research to understand the efficiency of training on wellbeing in the workplace.
It’s no secret that PR professionals thrive on connecting and communicating with others. We relish a trip out of the office to hit the reset button and see things in a new light. Culture Club at Milk & Honey PR is a time every month that the team comes together for some downtime, whether that’s a drink, or a night out at a comedy club.
Every year we plan a whole raft of events to learn, share ideas, hang out and unwind. This year we plan to decorate cookies for Easter, take part in a charity walk, host a board games night, organise a trip to the theatre and throw a company sports day.
These activities don’t even need to cost much, if anything, with a bit of imagination. Line management meetings don’t have to happen sitting down, within four walls. Team members hold “walk and talk” meetings, which offer an informal opportunity to discuss “non-work” issues.
Utilise your team
For mental wellbeing, there is nothing like support. So we’ve trained up mental health officers whose role is to be the first point of contact when a team member needs someone to speak to. Everyone from the board to our executives will gain an understanding of what to look out for. Our “bee buddy” programme offers support to employees around non-client issues.
Efforts to bring mental health and wellbeing to the top of the agenda will not go unnoticed. The rewards will be a happier, healthier workplace. Programmes should no longer be a tick box exercise and PR agencies need to change attitudes about mental health at work. Make a start today.