The attraction of working in PR and communications comes from the opportunity to be creative and work with amazing clients on varied and interesting projects.
However, it’s not an industry known for short working hours or low pressure environments. It can be stressful, and a difficult profession to look after your own wellbeing in.
We know this from our own experiences and speaking to our network, but it’s also backed up by plenty of evidence. For instance, here are some of the findings from people who responded to the CIPR State of the Profession Report 2018/19:
- Three fifths rated their job as at least 7/10 for stressfulness
- One fifth either have, or have previously had diagnosed mental health condition
- A quarter said they had taken sickness absence from work on the grounds of stress, anxiety or depression
As we’ve grown as a communications agency, we’ve consistently had strong results in our employee engagement survey, which is how we know we’re doing something right when it comes to looking after our people and creating a supportive environment. Today I wanted to share some of the ways we’ve done this and are continuing to make improvements:
Company culture and values
The key for us has been considering wellbeing across our ways of working, so the team know that we take it seriously.
One of our values is to ‘Take care of ourselves and our society’. That means that we’re not a workplace that expects presenteeism from our employees. If they’re ill, we tell them to stay home. If they’ve got demands in their personal life and need to work flexibly for a day to manage this, we adapt, or offer them the opportunity to take one of their five family days that we provide as a standard benefit.
On top of this we finish an hour early on Fridays, again to help people manage their work/life balance, and we don’t ask employees to be ‘always on’ – once you’ve left the office you’re not going to be asked to keep checking your emails.
It’s important to sometimes just say out loud that we value people’s health and want them to feel empowered to take care of themselves.
Focusing on the employee experience
As well as culture, two key aspects of a positive employee experience are having the right technology and physical spaces. All team members are provided with laptops so that they can work from wherever they need to. Our offices are in very distinct environments, but we do what we can in both to provide a pleasant workspace.
Our rural Leicestershire space has a beanbag corner where anyone can sit to spread out and do some creative thinking, along with plenty of green outdoor space around if anyone wants to take a break and go for a walk with one of our office dogs.
In central Birmingham we’ve got the city at our disposal, and team members will often go out to get some fresh air while they fetch a coffee or top up the office biscuit tin.
The team that eats together, stays together
Speaking of food, we find it’s an amazing way for our teams to bond! Our social days are usually geared around dinner (and cocktails).
Two of our Birmingham Team members are founders of Fat Food Friday, our internal community that tries out new eateries every week (there’s even an Instagram page). One of our values is to ‘Embrace the Fun Factor’ and we’ve found this is a simple and inclusive way to do that.
Extra resources and confidential support
Finally, we offer official support to our teams as one of our Employee Benefits. Perkbox is an employee experience platform where team members can get discounts on living a healthy lifestyle, including gym memberships and supermarket shops. If they need tailored, confidential support there’s also the 24/7 Employee Assistance Programme, which can be accessed at any time to talk to a counsellor and seek advice.
We’ve also been looking at investing in training to have mental health first aiders in our offices and providing the opportunity to take wellbeing courses such as resilience training, so that we’re providing our team with the skills they need to look after their mental health.