Laura Palmer, Marketing and Business Development Director at Promotional Handling Limited (PHL), shares why mental health awareness is important in the business environment and how it can attract highly creative individuals.
At some point in life, most of us will suffer from poor mental health, but people still find it hard to discuss the topic with employers for fear of stigmatisation. Conversely, employers shy away from tackling mental health head-on due to lack of knowledge and resources. Thankfully attitudes are changing both socially and in business. Mental health is slowly gaining awareness and recognition through the efforts of charities and key influencers.
We talk a lot about Branding in the Marketing Industry, but how are we Branding ourselves to employees? Marketing Employers need to offer a desirable working environment to attract the highly creative and dynamic individuals on which our business is so reliant. This environment must include a positive and hands-on approach to tackling mental health issues, forming an employment benefit over and above salary and remuneration. Additionally, such a climate should help nurture the potential of creative individuals, allowing them to thrive in what is a highly pressured industry. So how can we change our work culture to foster a healthy approach to mental health?
Start by knowing your audience – get to know your staff and understand the risks within your demographics. For example, according to the Office for National Statistics, UK industries with a workforce predominantly made up of men aged 45-49 will sadly have higher rates of suicide. Creative individuals tend to be more vulnerable to mental health issues such as depression and bipolar disorder. Add to that a pressured work environment and the hectic pace of modern-day life, and you can begin to put together a picture of what the dangers are for employees working in the Marketing Industry.
The next step would be to upskill people within the business to act as go-to mentors for anyone struggling with their mental health. However, there is no need to start all employees on a psychiatry course. Teaching a small team of people with the ability to listen to and signpost colleagues to the right departments or resources, for professional help and advice, should be sufficient. Ask the mentor team to meet regularly and review policy and procedures that promote mental health awareness within the business. Many mental health charities offer on-line literature and courses that help with this type of training. For example, the charity Mind has a fantastic toolbox for businesses here https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/.
As a team, learn the difference between anxiety, stress, depression, etc. Learn to recognise what these mental health issues might look like so that you can employ suitable management techniques and early intervention. Offering someone who is struggling the opportunity to work from home or a quiet secluded office might have a massive impact on their wellbeing. Small adjustments may stop an individual’s mental health issues escalating, without adding cost to the business. Such a strategy will hopefully result in a reduction of crucial staff being out of the company for prolonged periods. Additionally dealing with employees as individuals, accommodating their mental health needs, will help create a happier workplace.
Most importantly, encourage conversations in the workplace around mental health. Creating an environment of openness and removing the fear of talking about it can be a great way to alleviate stigma and improve employee mental health. “Time to Talk Day” is on the 6th of February this year if you are looking for a good starting point to engage staff in dialogue https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/time-talk-day. Remember Its ok to ask employees what support they think they need and the best way to keep the conversation going is to learn to listen carefully to feedback.
A desirable working environment will attract the best staff, prevent escalation of mental health issues and reduce the impact of illness and absence on the business. Mentally healthy and engaged employees will give back to the company with passion, creativity and be a driving force that can take the business forward to a brighter and better future for both the people within it and the bottom line.
If you would like to get in touch with PHL, email Laura Palmer at Laurap@promotionalhandling.co.uk