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Nurturing Mental Health at Work

Last week was Mental Health Week. We don’t need a Week to talk about it for sure, but anything that gets people talking about this most important of issues is a good thing in our books.

Typically agency life doesn’t lend itself that well to supporting mental health. Studios can be a stressful place to be. With people under pressure to work late, miss out on a social and a family life, taking a break just isn’t valued.

Over the 8 years we’ve been in business, we’ve developed some principles to make sure there’s none of that here.  People are looked after and know that we appreciate their lives as a whole.

If you think mental health isn’t a concern in your company, you’re wrong. In fact, not overtly questioning your processes, environment and culture in terms of how they can impact your team’s mental well-being will only serve to perpetuate anxieties and stress, and in turn, if this is your priority, impact overall productivity… then profit.

Companies who treat their employees with the same level of respect, care and compassion as they would their friends and family will ultimately run much more successful businesses, than those who hold on to an outdated belief that succeeding in business is more about being tough.

What we do here at JH

In honesty, there’s been no big “how to improve mental health” meeting here, we feel it comes from the heart. It makes sense: not just in business terms, in human ones too – if indeed there’s a distinction.

Here are some of the ways we make sure working here supports all-round mental well-being, we hope they offer some inspiration for a different way to work. If you want to know more, just ask us:

  • Say no to things you’re uncomfortable with. If Go Ape or paint balling isn’t your cup of tea, sit it out. Team days are meant to be fun, and that’s for everyone. So there’s never any pressure for anyone to join in if it’s not for them.
  • Work on the projects you believe in. If someone isn’t comfortable working on a project – for religious or political reasons, for instance – we can express this and adapt workload to make sure they’re not.
  • Work how you want to. Some of us work best with music on, others like to find a quiet space and sit alone. For most, it’s dependent on the job they’re on, the mood they’re in and what else is going on in the studio. We’ve various spaces from which we can work – the studio being the liveliest, the sofas and meeting rooms downstairs offering an escape.
  • Switch off for a few minutes. The work we do is complex, and requires challenging intellectual problem solving. For this, the best solution isn’t always to be sat, concentrating hard, staring at their screen. On the contrary, a break can refresh the brain and actually help us produce brilliant work.  We have a chilled area downstairs, with sofas and space to play table tennis. Sometimes a break can make all the difference to mindset, and when you go back up to the studio, your focus is all the better for it.
  • Work flexibly. For some, working early and clocking off at 4 can mean they miss rush hour, and make that gym session they feel better for doing. For others starting later can mean making the morning school run, and feeling like the juggling is that little bit easier. Ensuring our team live a fulfilled life, with as little stress as possible in balancing all aspects of that, we feel helps support mental health.
  • Work from home sometimes. We let people work from home when they feel that’s right for them. This has many benefits, not least for mental well-being. The stigma surrounding mental health, means that bosses tend not to take seriously sometimes that feeling most people get from time to time, when they just, quite honestly, can’t face being with people. And the option for people to have the flexibility to work from home when needed gives them this.
  • Let the team own the environment. We want people to feel at home here, so we let them make the choices. We regularly send out surveys to get everyone’s opinion and the Office Working Group make decisions on everything from studio furniture to team building ideas.
  • Sick days are OK. Your health matters more than anything else. Imagine telling your boss you need to have a mental health sick day. How would they react? We’d sadly guess that well over 50% would show a huge lack of empathy. And why so? It’d seem that still today, in 2017, we’re not taking mental health as seriously as we do physical. It’s time for companies to be realistic, and understand that in promoting a culture of openness and honesty around these issues, means in fact going some way to helping people find a way out of them.
  • Ask questions, whatever they are. We’ve a strong ever-learning ethos here. And so we believe there’s no such thing as a silly question: we peer mentor, and we’re always learning from each other’s skill-set and expertise. We’re passionate about what we do, and as keen to teach as we are to learn, so here’s an environment where the team isn’t scared to ask, or afraid to make a mistake, we’re all always improving in our work.

 

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