Mental Health – The topic we love to talk about but hate to deal with

Mental well-being is a topic that more and more people are talking about as our society continues to evolve at pace with pressures from all angles to keep up with expectations.

For those in PR it is something that comes up increasingly because of the endemic always on expectation, 24-7 media, and increasing public scrutiny.

CIPR launched its mental health guide last week which is a great start to providing resources for practitioners but to truly effect culture change, there are specific business behaviours PR practitioners need to embed in daily practice.

Redefining Comms founder and CIPR president-elect Jenni Field and I chatted over the bank holiday weekend about what advice we would give to those in our industry to help.

Here are our top tips:

  • Recruit according to a competency framework so you know every team member’s skillset. Don’t expect employees to move into a role outside this without training as that immediately creates tension and sets them up to fail.

  • Be clear on the company vision and what each individual’s part is in achieving this but equally understand what motivates your team members and deliver it. Equity theory exists for a reason – don’t let employees feel they are putting in more than they are getting back. They’ll deliver for so long…but then leave disillusioned.

  • Safe spaces where staff can air concerns are good but act on what you hear. Talking shops are ten a penny, employees respect leaders who are assertive on talent matters and show they care.

  • Similarly, make sure anyone managing a team is an experienced leader and check 360 feedback. Poor immediate bosses are a sure-fire source of churn. Not everyone is brave enough or able to call bad behaviour out.

  • Know your business and bring in resource quickly when you need it. There are loads of freelancers, agencies and consultants that can help. If you know that you will have a massive event on, or there is a busy period coming up, plan for it. Treat this as an investment and not a cost. Overload someone for too long and you’ll be paying their salary while they’re off with a sick note or a recruitment fee for their replacement.

  • Rotate who is on call: too often this falls to one person. If you’re in a team make sure that is shared between you all with weeks on and off and if you are a team of one, hire an agency to help share the load. This doesn’t have to be expensive and it is unacceptable for senior leaders to expect one person to be on call 24/7 because of the risk that creates for their organisation.

  • Use technology to help in emergency situations – for example by setting up a crisis line so teams don’t have to be on call 24/7 and a system is in place to alert relevant people automatically. A crisis should be rare so it shouldn’t happen often but planning out the process and using technology to help take the pressure off makes all the difference.

  • Use your out of office and stick to it. We have to be disciplined at this – if you’re out of office says to call you if it’s urgent, that’s what people will do. Put your email down and enjoy your holiday, you earned it.

  • Set yourself time limits – focus on one thing and then move on. We cannot multi-task, it’s a myth, but if we focus on a client project or emails for a set time, workloads are easier to manage and you’ll be much more efficient.

We are in the business of managing reputations. Nothing says more about an organisation than an unhappy workforce.

Jenni and I strongly believe you have to be the change you want to see so get your people processes right and bring in support where needed. Managing your team well will help them deliver on time to a higher standard and increase loyalty and buy in. It might be common sense but it’s also better business.

What are your better business tips? Comment and we’ll add them in.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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