Event Huddle: time to discuss workplace well-being

Event Huddle is a series of events, which ignite a debate around hot topics within the events industry. This month, following the launch of EventWell week, the topic covered was ‘Workplace well-being: why are we failing?’. The panel consisted of some of the best thought-leaders around this ever-important topic, Laura Capell-Abra, founder of ‘Nomoreifsandbuts’, Brendan Street from Nuffield Health, and Hannah Luffman, Director of Unicorn Events and Director of Education at ILEA.

EventWell week launched on the 18th September to raise awareness on the importance of health and well-being within the events industry. Rated 5th in the most stressful professions, just behind policing, it’s surprising how little we talk about this topic.

Why are we failing in the industry with workplace wellbeing?

Facilitator, Samme Allen begins with asking the panel; are we failing in the industry? We are not necessarily failing as an industry. There is still plenty of work to be done but the progress made over the last few years is staggering. Mental health in general has become less of a taboo and now it is a topic that people in general are happy to talk about with their peers.

As an industry, mental health and well-being is something we can all be hesitant to talk about. Laura mentions a survey from Stress Matters which showed that 25% of people are ashamed and embarrassed to talk about stress. As an industry, we need to make progress to reduce this number to 0%.

Specifically targeting the 25% stat, Brendan Street believes that this may be due to a disconnect between employers and employees. A recent survey showed less than 5% of employees would feel confident to speak to their employers about stress, although 80% of employers would feel their employees could talk to them about stress. There is a clear and obvious disconnect, but why is this?

  • Fear of discrimination?
  • Fear of peer perception?
  • The workplace language around well-being issues?
  • Why? – why do I need to talk about mental health?

Hannah, as a Director and employer, points out that there is a lot of pressure on managers to just know what to do. Employers need more understanding and training around these important areas.

So, how can we progress even further?

Change the language, change the conversation.

When we hear stats such as 1/17 men will get lung cancer, we automatically assume that we are one of the 16 who won’t. We do the same when it comes to mental health and well-being and we need to change this. Everyone can suffer from mental health on varying scales, so we need to be open about this.

Many people within the industry try not to talk about it or put a positive spin on the wording. We need to be open and honest when talking about stress and not be afraid to use the word itself.

Is the word stressed overused? How do we look past this as a phrase and as a real issue?

Hannah agrees and disagrees with this statement – within her workplace, she would rather it be a word that is banded around and used, than being afraid to be brought up. At Unicorn Events they have a stress chart – level 3 (lets go for a coffee), level 9 (let’s sit down and work out a plan). What’s most important is that there is a conversation about it. How people feel about their own spectrum is different to others therefore we shouldn’t disregard other people’s stress levels.

Brendan jumped in and agreed – stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing, stress can enhance our mind and focus. The issue is when it turns to sustained stress. For example, holding a heavy weight for a short amount of time – the problem can occur when you hold it for a long time, you then start to notice the aches and pains.

Tips

Laura – Look for the peaks and troughs. Don’t beat yourself up when you’ve got a lot on. Look to the points in the future when you know it’ll be more relaxed. It’s when that you can’t see that in the future, therein lies the issues.

Brendan – Everybody’s emotions and stress gets communicated differently. We need to be looking out for changes in behaviour and character. For example, someone who is usually quite relaxed, becomes quite irritable or vice versa.

Hannah – Most people in the room would be happier to speak to a peer, than their manager. Managers may not be best placed to manage their employee’s mental health with work and their own stress.

David Lewis – Marketing and Social Media Executive

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