MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Individuals working in the creative and communications industry, may it be in advertising, marketing, PR, or media, operate in very demanding environments. Teams from agencies often deal with tight deadlines to simultaneously produce creative and strategic outputs, while keeping up with multiple clients’ day-to-day needs. Some may even need to work longer hours to manage ongoing projects, publish stories, or even work on weekends to win clients, leaving individuals with little to no time for proper mental rest.
With minimal mental breaks and the pressure to live up to industry standards, this highly competitive environment can have mental health repercussions on creatives, strategists, and account managers alike. According to a major study on mental wellbeing in these workplaces, 20% of employees show severe symptoms of depression with 24% showing severe symptoms of anxiety. Adding in the uncertainties of the pandemic and the difficulty of work-life balance given the work-from-home setup, how the industry operates has become even more challenging to cope with for many.
Moving towards a more progressive work culture, some companies in this line of work are slowly changing their approach on productivity to avoid burnout and are providing better compensations for their employees. But how can these companies foster better working environments and ensure their teams’ mental well-being?
Counseling psychologists Shyne Mangulabnan, M.A., RGC and Cherrie Ragunton, M.P, RPm of corporate mental health partner Infinit Care, share best practices for fostering workplace wellness in the communication and creative industry. Infinit Care’s partner solutions range from helping them understand their organization’s overall mental state through data and insights, educating members on how to manage stress and anxiety through webinars, virtual counseling and access to support helplines via chat, and upskilling leadership through training for a healthier work environment.
Genuine support and communication
“A supportive work environment will be very helpful,” says Ragunton, “one that is not threatening, that encourages open and trusting communication, where people are allowed to express their feelings without being judged.”.
Communication, one of the backbones of the industry, is also a big part of the solution. Employers and its leaders should be an internal source of support in the organization and should also respect personal and time boundaries, especially now that most are working from home.
“Two-way communication between employers and employees is important in an organization because it ensures that all parties are on the same page when it comes to short-term tasks and long-term goals of the organization. This way, they understand what is expected of them and their deliverables, and thus they can also manage their time at work.” adds Mangulabnan.
Using creative skills and strengths
Companies should engage employees in activities where they are best interested in. According to Ragunton, companies can conduct a survey that will encourage their members to give their insights and suggestions as to what kind of support they would want to have. This will enable them to design and create programs best suited for their employees’ skills and strengths such as art therapies, yoga classes, or group dynamics activities. This will also create excitement and anticipation for activities that are not work related.
Since these workplaces are composed of artists and strategists alike, Mangulabnan also shares that managers can help combat burnout or writer’s block by allowing their members to take short breaks away from work to have some breathing room and a clearer headspace.
Some people are used to working in teams, so having meaningful exchange of conversations could be a way to keep their minds active or could even facilitate productive brainstorming. Taking time to socialize with colleagues a couple of times throughout the day could also help people de-stress.
Practicing work-life balance
Given that employees in this field are now working from home, companies should properly promote work-life balance not just through company announcements, but also by putting systems in place so that it may be practiced. This means imposing breaks and regular working hours fit for its people, while keeping the work environment professional.
“Employees should be reminded how to create transitions into and out of work. This allows them to prepare for the day and decompress after. This involves setting a routine before starting work such as taking breakfast, reading the news, or showering before work starts.” recommends Mangulabnan.
Managers can also help its members to plan and structure each day by setting achievable tasks to avoid them becoming overwhelmed. As for what employees can practice at home, Ragunton agrees that there must be a specific place to work and rest. If possible, people should not forget to have human interaction. It is also important to allow oneself to express all sorts of emotions and take time to process them out of work, identify the causes, and learn how to manage the triggers.
What comes first
“Mental health support has always been very essential in any organization, more so, now that we are in a crisis. This gives the employee the feeling of being supported, prioritized and valued, after all, people are the most important resource of the organization.” says Ragunton.
This drives Infinit Care to help companies integrate mental health in their people strategies. The holistic approach to workplace wellness digs deep into the specific needs of employees in various industries. Mental health solutions are not a one-size-fits-all approach, but are based on how the company operates and the people it’s composed of.
This support makes employees become more productive, effective, and more capable of working under pressure if the need arises. In a fast-paced industry, if workplace well-being comes first, the organization’s productivity and success will naturally follow.
To learn more about Infinit Care visit infinitcare.co