It’s the final day of #EventWell17 and UK Event Wellbeing Week 2017, the campaign I co-founded with a group of fellow event professionals and peers who are passionate, as I am, about wellbeing in events.

I had the fantastic opportunity of sitting on the ILEA-UK panel at Square Meal Venues + Events live yesterday, to discuss ways of keeping your cool and managing stress levels in our day to day events role.

I was on the panel to share my view on what we can be doing in the work environment to achieve better mental wellbeing, and I wanted to share with you here what I shared with the audience there.

At Eventwell we’ve been carrying out research since early May, research which identified that 75% of event professionals cited workload and responsibilities as the main reason for their day to day stress. But why was this?

We wanted to find out more, so have began further research the early findings of which have identified the top reasons as; client expectations (no surprises there), support from managers and colleagues, relationships at work, and pressure from top management (a few surprises there, aren’t we an industry that supports one another?).

So what can we be doing in the work environment to tackle this?

We all have an important role to play when it comes to wellbeing in the workplace, whatever your position everyone can offer a helping hand and the best place to start is by creating a 360-degree wellbeing culture within our businesses and organisations, and from top to bottom.

As a business, there’s no point having an all singing and dancing wellbeing scheme that looks great on paper, if you’re not allowing your employees time to rest and recuperate and establish work/life balance.

Likewise, there’s no point your employer investing in a wellbeing scheme if you are not setting boundaries for yourself and investing in your own self-care and wellbeing.

Like cogs in a machine if you remove one then everything grinds to a halt.

As managers then, contributing to that 360-degree wellbeing culture is very simple and really about being proactive, and this can be done in a number of ways:

  1. Hold regular team meetings and one to ones to provide yourself with an opportunity to recognise and spot signs and symptoms of stress or ill health, ask yourself how well do I really know my team? If the answer if not very well then do something about that. Get to know your team as individuals.
  2. Talk openly about mental health with your team – stigma can make it incredibly difficult for a team member to approach you to ask for help, if you talk openly you’re creating a culture that will make it easier for them. That initial step of asking for help is THE hardest thing that someone in distress can do.
  3. Record all sickness absence, and look for patterns that may indicate that someone may be struggling and need help, odd days here and there for example, and ask them if they need help or would like to talk? It’s your duty of care as a manager to be looking out for the welfare of your team members.
  4. It may be that the first action you take is to increase your knowledge of mental health conditions. This will help you understand the range of signs and symptoms but also how your behaviour as a manager can impact on others.
  5. Recognise that early intervention can really help a member of your team before it’s gone so far down the line that they have become very ill.

As individual team members, the same applies in terms of being proactive in the work environment.

  1. Set boundaries for yourself in terms of your hours of work. If you’re regularly working 50+ hours a week, and by regularly I mean week after week, then raise this with your manager. Remember a 50+ hour week equates to 11+ hours a day every day and is not sustainable if you want to achieve work/life balance. It’s also important to remember that the days of clocking in and out are long gone, so unless your manager is an uber micro manager (which I hope they’re not) they’ll have no real idea of the total amount of hours you work each week, so make sure you raise this early if it’s becoming a problem.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask a colleague how they are? They may want to talk about it, they may not, but by reaching out you’re letting them know that they can when they need to.
  3. If a colleague comes to you, try not to brush them off. It can be hard particularly when you’re busy, and it will never be the right time as some people can actually be uncomfortable when approached, but the biggest thing that can stop a colleague asking for help is how they’ll be perceived, either as weak or not good at their job. I’ve mentioned that it can be the hardest step for someone, so bear that in mind. If it’s not a good time suggest that you get together when it is and put some time in the diary.
  4. This is the grown up stuff now – don’t gossip about anyone who is absent from work due to stress or ill health. You never know who may be listening and picking up on that, and it can prevent someone from asking for the support they need if they have heard and witnessed their colleagues complaining about someone else. 1 in 3 event professionals will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their careers, that’s more than 1 person in the office and it could actually be you. Mental illness is not that choosy, trust me I know, so be mindful of those chats you have at the water cooler.
  5. Last one here is talk! Speak to someone, speak to trusted colleagues, friend or family member, whatever you need to do, but let’s start creating cultures in our industry where it is OK to talk about mental health.

We all have event careers that have lots of day to day pressures that can make us feel stressed, it is no different if you’re a planner, an agent, a venue, caterer or a supplier, but it doesn’t have to be that 1 in 3 of us will experience mental illness at some point in our careers.

We can all make a difference to event wellbeing and that is by creating working environments where people feel happy, healthy and safe, and people feel most safe in environments where they are supported.

Until next time #eventprofs…