This article was originally written for, and published as an excerpt by, Conference News in November 2022.
Maintaining physical and mental health in the event industry.
This month is Men’s Health Month and last weekend, Saturday 19th November, was International Men’s Day. It’s an opportunity for men and their families, friends and colleagues to talk about some of the challenges they might be facing. It’s also the perfect time for us to show our appreciation for the marvellous men here at Live Group. Our Chief Operating Officer, Helen Kronheim, is a strong believer in the power of a positive workplace and she shares her approach to wellbeing in our latest blog.
Working in an industry where the most valuable asset is our people, we’re only too aware of the importance of health and wellbeing. As event professionals, we often work long hours, to tight deadlines and with high expectations – a lifestyle that, if not properly managed, could easily result in health issues.
Managing health and wellbeing
We know that men in particular have a tendency to take an ‘ostrich’ approach to their health, which is why we’re shining a spotlight on International Men’s Day this year:
- Men are 20% less likely than women to visit the doctor if they feel unwell1.
- 90% of men won’t go to the doctor unless they have a serious problem2.
- 39% of men have previously waited until they were in so much pain it was ‘unbearable’ before seeking help3.
- And almost half of men (40%), say they won’t talk about their mental health4 - despite men making up 75% of all deaths by suicide5.
For many people, the events industry poses three main challenges – managing stress, managing sleep and managing social overwhelm.
1. Managing stress
It’s obviously natural to feel under pressure at work. But constantly juggling demands and meeting deadlines can easily turn pressure into stress. Feeling consistently stressed sends our blood pressure sky high, stops us sleeping properly, can trigger panic attacks and causes a host of symptoms which can prevent us doing our jobs and living our lives effectively.
When things get busy, it’s important to maintain a self-care routine. Endeavour to get enough sleep, eat well, stay hydrated, do things we enjoy and make time for moving our bodies – whether that’s a walk around the block, a session at the gym or a family dance party in the kitchen! Meditation also comes highly recommended. Spending just five minutes deep breathing in a quiet space, or listening to music that we find relaxing, can be really powerful.
At Live Group, everyone’s hours are based on flexi-time and we encourage staff to maintain healthy boundaries between work and home. We know how important it is for people to take time away from their desk, to switch off their phones and close down their email, whether that’s to do the school run, walk the dog, nip to the shops or just to take a break.
2. Managing sleep
We all know sleep is essential for health and a lack of it can affect concentration, make us irritable and lead to long-term health problems. Although skipping sleep to get work done can sometimes seem like a good idea, we’re actually likely to be less productive and able to make decisions.
Working out our optimum sleep time is easy enough, but sticking to a bedtime routine can be hard. Whenever possible, it’s recommended that we establish healthy sleep patterns by keeping to the same bedtime and waking time each day.
For Event Managers, it’s not always possible to commit to a regular sleep routine. Event management often involves working into the early hours to set up a job or travelling internationally to run events in different time zones. Ideally, such disruption would be the exception rather than the norm, allowing ourselves time to catch up on sleep after experiencing a series of late nights and caffeine-fuelled days.
At Live Group, events regularly take place outside office hours and require dedicated work across their planning and run-time to ensure they are delivered flawlessly. To compensate staff when extended working hours are required, we offer a simple and flexible Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) system. It’s been reported that it can take up to four days to recover from just one hour of lost sleep. We recognise how important it is for staff to recharge and overtime or weekends worked onsite can be reclaimed by our teams and taken off within a two-week deadline, encouraging rest and recuperation as soon as a busy project is complete.
3. Managing social overwhelm
Event professionals are constantly communicating. From team members, to clients, to suppliers, it can feel like one continuous conversation, especially when we’re working on location.
Add in the expectation of extra-curricular social events and entertaining clients, along with the fear of missing out on team drinks, and it can easily begin to feel like every waking moment is spent in the company of others. While people working in the events industry do tend to be social beings, we all need downtime to gather our thoughts, slow down and refocus.
We shouldn’t be afraid to say no to things that aren’t compulsory. We shouldn’t feel awkward heading back to our hotel room for a rest. Carving out time alone can be all it takes to leave us refreshed and ready to go again.
Health & Wellbeing at Live Group
At Live Group, we have an extensive and active physical and mental wellbeing strategy which features a variety of initiatives such as Live Group water bottles to encourage hydration, shorter meetings which allow time for a break in between calls or face to face appointments and posture-positive equipment including laptop stands and back supports for chairs.
‘Focus Fridays’ ensure the last day of the week is meeting-free and, during the months of May to August, our offices close early on Fridays to allow staff to enjoy the lighter evenings. We also offer an online Wellness Library, we run the ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme and provide discounted gym memberships and access to resilience apps such as Headspace, as well as hosting regular wellbeing-focused workshops in our offices.
We have a fully-trained, in-house ‘Wellness Team’ to monitor the wellbeing and mental health of staff. Members of our ‘Wellness Team’ are trained as St John Ambulance Mental Health First Aiders or Mental Health Responders. They aim to spot signs in individuals who may be displaying behaviours attributed to a mental health concern and they offer a safe space for employees to talk openly to a team member about any issues, stresses and strains they might be facing. Sometimes this support is enough, but there is a clear pathway if a line manager needs to make further arrangements.
The final piece making up our wellbeing puzzle is access to an Employee Assistance Programme through Vitality, which includes health screening, telephone counselling, face to face counselling, legal and financial support, management Support, online resources and private medical insurance that covers mental health conditions.
Live Group’s team of experts is our biggest asset and we do everything we can to create a positive workplace where people can thrive.
- https://ukmensday.org.uk/ for more information on International Men’s Day and the organisation behind it, The Men and Boys Coalition.
- https://uk.movember.com/mens-health/general has more information on men’s health, specifically mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
- www.prostatecanceruk.org has information relating to prostate cancer prevention, signs, treatment and management.
- Mates in Mind offers organisations tools and resources to help them improve the mental health of their workforce
- www.menshealthforum.org.uk works to improve the health of men and boys in England, Wales and Scotland.
- www.theurologyfoundation.org is dedicated to beating urology diseases through research, education and training.
- Key Facts about Men and Boys’ Wellbeing | UK Men’s Day (ukmensday.org.uk)