The theme of the week this year is loneliness, with it being seen as one of the biggest drivers of distress and feeling of isolation during the pandemic and beyond. And it was one of the leading issues that the public felt should be addressed, with research by the Mental Health Foundation finding that 1 in 4 (25%) of UK adults have felt lonely some, or all of the time, over the previous month.
We recently conducted a survey over our clients and candidates, among which Mental Health was a key area and produced a subsequent report. Incredibly almost one third (28%) of businesses now say that mental health is a bigger issue for them than physical illness.
Marketing and the Agency world’s mix of tight deadlines, challenging budgets and need for constant creativity can be a recipe for stress and over long periods... poor mental health. Despite UK employees reportedly working the longest hours in Europe, it is a global problem in the industry. A global survey of marketers in 2021 found that heavy workloads are commonplace in the profession. Almost all marketers (95%) said workload had impacted their mental health negatively and 80% of workers said employers did not do enough to help.
This came through in our report as well, with some scepticism among respondents that “companies only pay lip service to this” rather than being fully committed to supporting mental health. Respondents were wary that sharing mental health struggles could negatively impact career progression: “I wouldn’t want them to think I’m not fit for the job and unable to complete tasks.” Another worker said: “They talk a good game but their actions are very different.”
Only 12% of survey respondents said they were extremely comfortable talking about their mental health with work management, but the majority did register a level of comfort in talking about it to management. And one respondent was complimentary, saying “I think most employers are making enormous efforts to accommodate the mental health agenda and ensure all employees and contractors are supported.”
Our Head of Agency, Victoria is clear on how important the issue is: “Mental health is very important after two very difficult years. Candidates take this very seriously and will see through a flimsy wellbeing culture.”
And Sarah Windsor, our Lead Consultant in B2B and Tech says a good approach has to go beyond flexible working: “Flexibility is now a given so the other benefits are becoming more important. Flexi hours and home working alone aren't enough to stand out now as everyone is offering that.”
It has been suggested that businesses need to take the idea of “pyschological safety” seriously. In other words, finding ways to make everyone feel valued, included and engaged. A negative company culture features highly in our survey respondents’ top challenges, alongside issues such as budget restraints, COVID-related illness and adapting to change.
One thing is for certain, poor Mental Health is perhaps the biggest factor affecting not just our industry, but society and it is vital that businesses and individuals do more than just touch the surface of what help actually looks like for people.
If you’d like to read our full report on Talent in the Marketing Industry, you can download a copy here.
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