By Sarah Yeats, Managing Director, Sledge
Whether it’s working overtime to perfect a pitch, through the night as event delivery days approach, or managing a challenging client, we all know that our work can be stressful.
This is especially the case at the moment, as our industry makes its comeback, lead times are tighter than ever in line with changing rules and regulations, and more clients gain approval for their hybrid and in-person events. It also means freelance support staff aren’t as readily available because they are booked up on projects, and so the pressure on our full-time staff increases.
People and profit: the balancing act
As leaders, it’s important we win new business and bounce back following a difficult time, however we won’t be able to achieve any of this without our people. With International Stress Awareness Week and National Stress Awareness Day taking place at the moment, now is the time to consider the ways we balance operating successful businesses with the wellbeing of our employees.
Educating ourselves and teams about stress
First and foremost, take the time to understand the symptoms of stress, and learn how to identify them. The International Stress Management Association (ISMA) is a great resource, and provides a variety of physiological, emotional, physical and behavioral signs to look out for, such as an inability to concentrate, lower levels of intuitiveness and creativity, irritability and absenteeism. While the physical signs may be more difficult to identify, this is where it’s important we educate our people about the signs to be aware of too.
Creating a formalised approach, and leaning on the experts
Developing a wellbeing plan for our businesses which outlines prevention and management practices for the team to adopt throughout the year, making it readily available, referring to it on a regular basis, and encouraging open communication about all wellbeing related matters is key.
Monthly workshops and team building days can be an effective way to discuss these subjects with teams in an open and safe environment, as can inviting experts to share stress prevention and management practices, such as five-minute mindfulness, and the importance of stepping away from our desks or technology at regular intervals. These can then be built into our day-to-day by, for example, scheduling meetings with break periods throughout or in between, and hosting daily mindfulness sessions.
Practicing what we preach, all year round
When times get busy, it can be easy to forget about the strategies and protocols we’ve put in place to prevent and manage stress, especially for smaller agencies where one person’s absence can have a ripple effect. However, regular breaks in the lead up to and following an event or pitch are possible when a clear plan is created from the outset.
The plan should ensure multiple team members are across a project from the beginning, that more than one person acts as the client’s point of contact, and that two or more employees are assigned as subject matter experts on specific elements of the project. A clear timeline that outlines when one employee will take over from another is also vital, to avoid any miscommunication around responsibilities and deliverables.
All of this combined will help to ensure everything continues to run smoothly across the pre, during and post pitch or event delivery stages, while allowing our people to get the time out that they need to de-stress and return to work in good spirits, resulting in greater productivity and higher morale.
While it is no doubt positive news that our industry is on the up again, it’s important we safeguard our people, and there’s no better time to address how we’re doing this, than today.