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Why businesses must pay attention to workplace wellbeing

10 Sep 2019  |  Diana Tickell 
Why businesses must pay attention to workplace wellbeing

Our industry is full of brilliant and creative people. Let’s give them the support they need. By Diana Tickell, CEO NABS.

Supporting your employees’ wellbeing is one of the most important things you can do for them.

In fact, for people in our industry, it’s crucial.

The turnover rate in advertising and media is high – too high. Just under 30% of our employees leave their roles every year, compared to the national average of 15%. With the cost of replacing a member of staff standing at more than £30,000, the human and financial cost of our turnover is stark.

Supporting our people’s wellbeing can help to nurture and empower them to stay with us.

Emotional and mental health are essential foundations for wellbeing, yet this is where more and more people in our industry are struggling. As the support organisation for advertising and media, at NABS we know this first-hand.

Our Advice Line is taking more calls than ever from people seeking support with their emotional and mental health. In fact, nearly 40% of the 2000 calls we’ve taken so far this year are from people calling with emotional support needs.

Emotional support is now the single biggest reason for people to contact the Advice Line, with a third more callers seeking emotional support than last year. Meanwhile, mental health calls have grown by 10 per cent since last year. Contrasted with an 18 per cent increase in calls overall, it’s clear to see how prevalent poor emotional and mental health is becoming in our industry.

We cannot sit back while so many people are struggling with their wellbeing.

Understanding what makes up wellbeing, and how it affects all areas of our lives, is the first step towards giving practical support.

We created an evidence-based model for understanding wellbeing, SHEPARD, that breaks wellbeing down into easy-to-understand elements of life: satisfaction, health, emotions, perceptions, awareness, rewards and diversity. When we use the model to help people gauge their wellbeing, we can pinpoint the areas which have serious implications not just for their emotional and mental health but also for whether they’re likely to stay in their role, company or our industry altogether. From rewards – the ability to feel financially secure – to diversity – a sense of learning, acceptance and community – we must take all of these factors into account to keep our staff healthy and engaged.

We also have to take responsibility for where we might be causing undue stress. At NABS we hear stories of people overwhelmed by unmanageable workloads; others pressured into the long-hours culture that’s pervaded our industry for so long.

Elsewhere, people are worried about the uncertain climate caused by Brexit. The prospect of redundancies and restructures, sometimes due to agency mergers, is causing anxiety for people worried about their jobs. We can’t control external factors, but it is down to us to provide wellbeing support in the face of stressful change.

While some of our service users are receiving support at work, unfortunately others tell us that they’ve found it more difficult to get the help they need from their employer.

Providing preventative support is also important. That’s certainly been an increasing focus for NABS over the past five years.

Reach your people before they get to crisis point. Help your employees to build resilience and confidence with empathetic training or coaching. We see resilience and confidence as two of the most important building blocks for wellbeing – in fact, some of our own Masterclasses focus resoundingly on these two subjects. Cultivating a more positive and buoyant mindset can help to sustain an individual’s wellbeing in the long term.

Ongoing support is also a huge help. Have regular conversations with people to check in on how they’re doing and use your resources at hand to help those who are struggling – whether that’s highly trained managers, your own HR team, or our specialist advisors at NABS.

Develop a structured way to talk about wellbeing, so that people can track how they’re doing, making it easier to spot trouble and ask for help when it’s needed. That could mean using a model like SHEPARD or training up Mental Health First Aiders to have empathetic conversations with staff.

While there is some great work going on across our industry, it’s clear from our stats that there’s still so much to do. If we come together to help support our people’s wellbeing, we’ll retain more talent, we’ll attract diverse and bright people to work for us, and we’ll get the best out of them.

Our industry is full of brilliant and creative people. Let’s support their wellbeing and help them, and adland as a whole, to thrive.


WellFest 2019, the workplace wellbeing conference, takes place on 12 November. To find out more visit the NABS website.

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