Why mental health matters to the media and advertising industry
The creative industry must do more to address poor mental health in the workplace, writes Josh Krichefski, CEO, MediaCom UK
The media and advertising industry has always been underpinned by rapid change, but this change has only quickened in recent years thanks to shifting consumer behaviour and technology-driven innovation. Not only are businesses feeling the pressure, but the employees themselves are also seeing more demanded of them to deliver brilliant work for clients; faster and more effectively.
Is it any wonder, then, that new figures from mental health charity MIND show that around half of all people experience poor mental health in the workplace?
It’s clear that for business leaders in the industry, it’s more important than ever to help our employees manage the demands of daily life, and really make their mental well-being a priority. People are everything in this competitive business world, and those leaders that don’t recognise that fact and make changes to support their employees will find themselves at a disadvantage.
Working in this industry is rewarding for whole host of reasons; one of the biggest is the fact that we get to create insightful, engaging and creative content for our clients’ customers. Whether you’re a small agency with 20 people or the world’s largest, we are all essentially working towards this same goal.
At the end of the day, the ability to create award-winning work alongside bright, like-minding people is incredibly exciting.
However, for people to be able to feel this excitement and enjoy the work they’re doing, business leaders need to first take care of their workforce. We cannot expect staff to deliver industry-leading work if we treat them as just another cog in the machine.
As technology has saturated every corner of businesses – regardless of sector – it’s no surprise that we’ve come to find ourselves working in an always-on culture that rewards people for being attached to their work phones, emails and computers. This kind of mind-set is draining for employees, and it is damaging the way we do business.
At MediaCom, we want our people to do their best work, but in the time that they’re actually at work – not tethered to their phones late at night or on the weekend. That’s why we introduced an after-7pm email ban. It’s just one part of building a culture that champions a healthy work/life balance, which is so important for good mental health.
Let’s create mental health year, where the mental health agenda is progressed every single day
Acting without purpose is as bad as not acting at all. When it comes to the mental health agenda, we must all come together to tackle one of the biggest issues facing us today.
Every year mental health receives the spotlight. For a day, a week or a month mental health awareness is brought to the forefront of the agenda. But what is being done outside of this? Why don’t we make it a year-long priority? Instead of waiting for a certain day or week to mark the occasion, we must build it into the foundation of our businesses, 365 days a year.
Granted, it is a complex subject, which is why the C-suite need to lead the conversation. In February this year, at MediaCom we introduced a Mental Health Allies programme, training 40 people to be advocates across the business. These 40 people can be reached out to in confidence if anyone needs to chat to someone without fear of being judged or disadvantaged at work. It’s an important step in our plan to create the type of culture that we want at MediaCom – and, indeed, that all media agencies need.
Put your workforce first and reap the business benefits
The numbers are too great to ignore; the Centre for Mental Health found that mental health problems in the UK workforce cost employers almost £35 billion. What’s more, two-thirds of British adults have experienced mental health issues at some point in their lives. Clearly, poor mental health is not a rarity, and it should no longer be a taboo subject.
But there are positive steps that we – as business leaders – can take.
Only recently, we saw the Australian creative industry join a mental health and wellbeing initiative to develop research, which will shed a light on the topic.
Alongside creative community Never Not Creative, mental health organisation Everymind and social purpose organisation Unltd, the joint initiative will be a first of its kind and seek to bring transparency to mental health issues. We should use this as a model across every single country.
The responsibility lies with those at the top to take care of their workforce, and create an environment that sees them thrive, helping them to balance their personal & work life and, in turn, allows the company to grow.