It’s been described as an epidemic – how can we ensure wellbeing in PR is a priority?

April is National Stress Awareness Month and yesterday the CIPR launched its annual state of the profession report outlining some of the worst stress and mental-health stats in years…

It stated that last year’s survey highlighted a 10% annual rise in the number of practitioners living with a mental health condition. This year’s survey explored those concerns further and, with the help of the mental health charity, Mind, a series of questions were developed which separated matters related to stress and mental health.

wellbeing in PR

  • Just over one fifth (21%) of respondents live with, or have previously lived with, a diagnosed mental health condition.
  • Based on the Office of National Statistics UK PR population data, this percentage equates to more than 16,000 PR professionals.
  • More than half (53%) of respondents said their work contributes highly to their diagnosis.

The CIPR was a bit too nice when it said “While employers are commonly supportive in these circumstances, an alarming number are yet to develop mental-health policies to support employees.” Clearly, employers aren’t doing enough, either by teaching coping mechanisms and/or changing work habits. “Almost a quarter (23%) of respondents who discussed concerns about their mental health with a manager said that nothing happened as a result of those conversations.”

So, don’t ask if you’re not going to do anything. If you value your workforce you need to listen and act. Engage them in conversation and empower them to be part of the solution, but it’s your responsibility to lead.

A large portion of PR practitioners find the industry stressful – the report cites workload, unsociable hours and unrealistic expectations driving stress. “63% of respondents rated the stressfulness of their job at 7 out of 10 or above. The average score among practitioners was 6.7. Just shy of a quarter (23%) said they had taken sickness absence from work on the grounds of stress, anxiety or depression.”

I mean what?! How can this be. How can we have let it get to this stage? Yes, I know we are under a lot of pressure and people tend to think we have a silver bullet to solve all their problems, but what people don’t understand is that PR professionals are under constant pressure to learn, develop, manage, think, act and meet really harsh deadlines. Although in work we tend to be solutions people, there is also a culture of calling rage on something and then not offering a solution! So, here is my limited support to anyone out there who needs a push in the right direction…

I was looking up the official website for Stress Awareness Month and they have some useful resources. Read this article which talks about ‘fight or flight‘ and I’m sure you’ll be able to relate!

  • For 99p you’ll get emails in your inbox for 7 days, which will help you reduce stress. Check it here. Might be worth someone testing this and then using the content to adapt to your own business version?

Top points for stress management:

This blog from Federation of Small Businesses is quite helpful, too, “Wellbeing in a small business: managing stress in the workplace

And MIND, the charity the CIPR mentions in the report, has some good content here.

I was talking to my client, CodeClan, about its stress management and wellbeing guide for students. It’s an intense time of learning and pressure to do homework most nights, too, as well as managing life, families and personal time. I love what they are doing and the fact they are asking students for input, means they do actually care about their wellness.

Some other points to consider for your own wellbeing:

  1. Recognise what stress looks like to you or your team – what are the signs?
  2. What are the triggers?
  3. Know how YOU can deal with pressure or stress – everyone will have a slightly different view of what helps them
  4. What can you manage, to change the triggers?
  5. How does your stress affect others?
  6. Who is there to help?
  7. Know how to communicate it
  8. Asking for help before it’s too late

Has your business considered how stress affects it? Are you a PR agency or business who hasn’t given this consideration? I hope this post will give you some guidance and tips, and inspire you to make stress management and wellness at the top of your priority list.

If you need assistance in developing this, I can be available as a consultant to help engage the team, generate ideas and develop a strategy and plan which will improve wellbeing, productivity, reduce sick days and get staff feeling more motivated. Contact me if you’d like to discuss.

Thanks for reading my post. If you think others will benefit from some of the wellbeing pointers, please share with your network!