Don’t let PR get you down

Let’s face it, this hasn’t been the greatest start to the year, horrible weather, depressing news (well, isn’t it always?) and continuing financial pressures are not good for your mental, or physical health. On top of that, working in PR, chances are you have to work long hours in a sedentary role.

It is important for the health of the business, however, that your working culture encourages a healthy and sane environment. If people are absent due to illness, it puts pressure on team members and costs money.

Emma Ladley, employment solicitor at law firm Lester Aldridge, discusses what businesses should do to help prevent a “sick” working culture: “A proactive approach can help to minimise and reduce unnecessary employee absence. It’s important that employers monitor absence levels to help identify patterns and underlying causes – for example, it’s reported that stress is cited as the most common cause of absence and so employers should ensure that they have appropriate policies in place to prevent and manage this. By taking staff welfare seriously, management of absenteeism can be preventative, rather than responsive, with benefits to the workforce and the business.”

Case study

It makes perfect sense to keep everyone healthy and happy at work, but that’s easier said than done. Everyone knows that exercise and good nutrition are key to health, but when your team members are popping out for a puff during the day and for drinks at night, it can be hard to resist temptation.

Kourtney Shaw, consultant at PR agency Calacus, describes how she combats the unhealthy pressures of working in PR: “I try to exercise at least three times a week before work begins. If you just wake up and do some exercise it’s done, dusted and out of the way so you can go and enjoy those social events without fear of piling on extra pounds from calorific cocktails and canapés. I also use the time at the gym to catch up on daily news by listening to the radio while I’m jogging.”

“Late nights working, client worries and being ‘always-on’ can put a strain on you both physically and mentally so I try to switch-off at least 30 minutes before I go to sleep. I’ll read a book, a magazine, or listen to a Radio Four podcast. I tend to listen to radio shows which I wouldn’t usually associate with work (for instance, BBC Radio Ulster’s Everyday Ethics) but are still intellectually stimulating and entertaining. They can spark creativity and are thought-provoking and most importantly, stop me from looking at a screen.”

As well as taking responsibility for your own health, it helps if your organisation supports you by providing an environment that nurtures you, both inside and out.

Agencies describe how they support and motivate their teams:

How we encourage our people

Alex Snow, account executive at PR agency Threepipe:

“We have two initiatives to help us keep healthy in mind and body. The first is ‘Wellness Wednesday,’ which takes place quarterly. On this day the company provides lunch for all employees and pays for a masseuse to come in and give everyone massages. The second is the Threepipe personal development fund. Threepipe give all employees £250 a year which can be used towards developing a new skill. Many employees have put this towards a cooking class, learning a new language and driving lessons.”

Katie Henry, consultant at agency Kaizo PR & Digital Communications:

“Here at Kaizo, we’ve given everyone a Fitbit wireless activity tracker in a bid to take the small steps to leading a healthier lifestyle. We’ve even created a Fitbit leader board to encourage healthy competitions between colleagues and to motivate each other to ‘do more’. We’re all guilty of reaching for the office biscuit tin as the late afternoon slump rears its ugly head, but hopefully, the extra steps we clock up with our Fitbits will make us feel just that little bit less guilty about it.”

Kate Warwick, director at agency PR Savvy:

“Giving the account team’s brains a refresh is also important, perhaps shifting the responsibilities around and asking what they would like to achieve for the client, if budget and news were no object.  Some of these brainstorming ideas might just pivot into good, workable activity for the next year. And if it doesn’t, the process has at least helped to keep your brain fit”.

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