The public relations and communications industry is a notoriously high-stress environment. Practitioners work long hours and deal with tight deadlines and demanding clients on a daily basis. In 2015, the PRCA revealed that an amazing 34% of PR professionals have been diagnosed with or experienced some form of mental ill health such as stress, anxiety or depression.
This has a massive affect on both personal productivity and company profitability.
Given the levels of work-related stress in public relations, it should not come as any surprise that depression and anxiety are rife. Stress, anxiety and depression have a significant and damaging effect on individual performance levels, and a lack of motivation and low productivity are commonplace among those suffering with poor mental health.
The knock on effect to agencies is significant. Staff turnover within the industry is around 25% per year, while presenteeism is a serious issue. According to the CIPD, the cost to companies of replacing a single employee can be as much as 60% of that salary and the cost of presenteeism is double that of absenteeism.
I now provide a consultancy service to assist communications agencies with implementing a best practice approach to mental health understanding, support and provision, focused on increasing individual productivity, staff well-being and company profitability.
This follows the following five steps, each of which can be undertaken as an independent module, or can be combined into the full course.
Step One: Risk Assessment
An analysis of company culture including factors such as average working hours, out of hours support, amount of travel, holiday bookings, resourcing and absenteeism
Step Two: Corporate Assessment
An analysis of your management and reporting structure to define roles and responsibilities for mental health support. Who are the key people who will drive the progression? What are the existing processes, procedures and support mechanisms?
Step Three: Employee Assessment
An anonymous survey of employees to gain their perspective on whether they feel under pressure, whether they have sought out advice on stress, anxiety or depression, and whether they know where to turn in the workplace
Step Four: Training
Training across all management personnel on how to spot mental health issues and what do about it. Workshop style to invite questions and challenges and work through issues. Click here for information on training as a standalone activity.
Step Five: Procedures
Devising reporting lines and company procedures, defining a process and building this into job roles. Focused on taking a proactive approach with guideline adapted for your specific corporate challenges
I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2004 and have a decade’s experience of working inside communications agencies. I have experienced first hand and spoken to many, many PR professionals about how mental health issues are handled.