While the term ‘Blue Monday’ has no real basis in fact, you might be feeling extra blue today. It’s January, we’re in year three of a global pandemic and PR just happens to be an incredibly stressful industry at the best of times.
Looking out for the mental wellbeing of your colleagues and employees can help take the blue-filter off of the day-to-day – here are just some industry initiatives helping to support mental wellbeing. Have the best Blue Monday you can, everyone.
‘I always encourage my employees to go for a walk and stretch their legs,’ says Marketing Signals’ managing director Gareth Hoyle.
‘Although our mantra is “work from anywhere”, most of the team work from home, which can start to take its toll on your mental health if you don’t take regular breaks, so I’m happy for my team to close their laptops whenever they need to. Whether it’s to go for a walk, pick the kids up, take a long lunch or just switch off. Doing this helps improve my employees’ wellbeing and makes sure that everyone is taking the time they need to relax out of hours.’
Missing being in close enough proximity to your team mates to steal post-it notes can be tough – that’s where online groups come in:
‘23red recently set up a wellbeing working group,’ says PR communications assistant Dylan Brown. ‘On Tuesday 18 January, following Blue Monday, 23red have enlisted the help of environmental drag artist Timberlina, where they will be having a fun full agency virtual bingo session to brighten up staff. 23red were really keen to lift the mood when working from home and decided to recently send all members of staff a peace lily to brighten up workspaces.’
Glass Digital also encourages relationship building outside of work:
‘Some of our teams get together every week to deliver a Fri-YAY session, involving members of the team going round to say who they are proud of in the company that week and what they are proud of themselves for. This not only boosts morale, but allows people to reflect on the good work they’ve done that week.’
Fox Agency has introduced plenty of wellbeing initiatives to keep the team in tip-top mental shape, according to senior operations manager Natalie Noble:
‘We offer weekly bootcamp style personal training sessions in worktime, now held remotely to ensure all can join. We also do yoga, meditation, mindfulness and even gong sound bath therapy sessions to help us find a little zen in the sometimes hectic agency world.
‘There’s a 24-hour confidential helpline for people to get help on any matter, and as our trained mental health first aider, I am always available to chat with colleagues.’
‘When we started WFH we would have ‘Coffee & Cake’ days,’ says Francesca De Cata, marketing and communications executive at Mr Lee’s Pure Foods. ‘We would jump on a call at 10 in the morning every Wednesday and talk about anything that was not work-related. We also arranged quite a few events online; we celebrated Pancake Day by having breakfast on a call, we had online lunch breaks together and we also did a little Easter activity online.’
‘For this Blue Monday, SEO agency Blue Array, are making it Blue Array Monday instead,’ says Jodie Harris. ‘Each week, the agency has an all-hands meeting, but this Monday’s will be a special one, as it’ll include recent industry news and guest speaker, Adnan Ebrahim, co-founder of a new mental health app called MindLabs.
‘These meetings are normally for Blue Array employees only, but for Blue Monday, it will be open to anyone in the industry to attend. Afterwards, we can grab a virtual coffee and have an industry catch-up. For anyone who would like to attend, see this post for details.’
‘We have a flexible working model in place, so we’re always looking at new ways we can stay connected when working remotely and still feel the benefits of our office culture that has been built over 20 years,’ says Liz Lean PR’s account manager and culture & welfare officer Shona Byrne.
‘For Blue Monday, we’re treating the team to a proper coffee on us and we will then regroup for a virtual coffee break to discuss why January doesn’t have to be depressing. The team has also built a motivational playlist to blast loud and proud during the day (which can be found by searching LLPR Team Motivation Playlist on Spotify).’
Putting people first
‘Gone are the days when organisations can afford to pay lip service to mental health – we have a duty to recognise colleagues as people, not just employees,’ believes Grace French, Head of Culture at Stand.
‘Our evidence-based approach to mental health is proactive, not just reactive. We provide £250 annually to spend on wellness, however you define it. We embrace flexible and hybrid working. Our mental health first aiders lead activity to maintain positive wellbeing and provide support. Everyone has a tailored Wellness Action Plan (an evidence-based resource backed by charity Mind) detailing how they can maintain positive mental health at work. A colleague-led approach helps ensure support is authentic and impactful.’
Helping others helps everyone, believes the team at Full Fat:
‘We donate time and money to charities and organisations like The Trussel Trust and Show Racism the Red Card,’ says senior account manager Cheryl Chia. ‘We also work pro bono with charities each year. It brings staff together with a common aim to do good. We’ve also organised volunteer days and external workshops with charities such as LGBTQ+ ‘Not a Phase’ for a recent trans-inclusivity talk.’
Did you get enough zzzs over the weekend? HR manager Greg Diamond at Finn Partners encourages it:
‘We have an agency Wellness Collaborative to coordinate activities and information for employees aligned to the five pillars of wellness: a good night’s sleep; a sense of community; exercise; healthy foods; and stress reduction.’
For help with getting back into work in January, check out advice from mental health practitioners and your peers in PR here as well as our accessmatters session with Katie Phillips, KDP Coaching & Consulting on avoiding burnout.