How we’re changing the social stigma associated with mental health in the workplace

10/10/2018

Today marks the 26th year of World Mental Health Day, an opportunity for supporters to raise awareness and advocacy against social stigma associated with it.

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With this year’s theme focusing on young people and mental health in a changing world, it got me thinking about what we do for our people at Carat in the ever changing world of media. How are we as leaders in the company, setting a good example for the young people, our future leaders?

At Carat, we encourage our people to be agile. This doesn’t just mean working from home on a Friday, it’s about the agility to work where it is best for the individual and not feel under pressure to be restricted to the same desk or even the same Dentsu office. If you want to work on the beanbag in the breakout area, go for it! If you want to work from the sofa in the Dentsu Aegis Café, great! As long as you are productive, be in the environment that suits the way you work. According to a Stanford University Study, over a nine month period, they found that flexible workers not only achieved more, but were off sick less, worked longer hours and more importantly, were happier at work. What’s more, according to Powwownow’s 2017 Flexible Working Survey, an astounding 70% of workers strongly believe that flexible working would make a job more attractive to them. By doing this, we not only attract top talent, but we’re also retaining the brilliant talent we already have.

I’m a big fan of the concept of ‘blending your work’, not necessarily ‘balancing’. Think of it like a check list of the things you want to achieve in the day and just like a meeting, schedule it into your calendar. If you have a day of meetings back to back, but have a one hour window at 2pm, make that the time to go for your run or hit the gym. The industry has changed, I think, for the better in this sense. Gone are the days when you’d be called a part-timer for leaving the office at 5pm.

In a recent study by Lehigh and Colorado State universities it found that those who checked work emails while off-duty experienced the greatest stress and reported the lowest scores for ­wellbeing. Don’t get me wrong I work hard and encourage my team to do the same, but I’m also a huge advocate of knowing when to shut off. At Carat, I think it is imperative that our people do more of this. If you tend to work better at the weekend, then that is absolutely fine, but I’d encourage you to save the emails in draft and then send them on Monday morning. By doing this, there is respect for those who work in different ways and, if activated from the top down, relieves the pressure of those who think they must respond to their managers when they’re contacted out of hours.

Whilst at Carat we have an agile approach to working, I believe there is still more we can do in terms of educating our people on how to activate it. We should all feel comfortable to discuss this with our managers and figure out the best way to embrace this way of working. Whilst technology is enabling us the opportunities to do this more, there is still a job to be done in completely adopting the agile approach to work and I am determined to make it happen.

 

Phil Christer is Global President, Carat.

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