The past couple of months have given us lighter evenings, warmer days, and an all-important dose of vitamin D.
However, September is here with a bang, and the nights are starting to draw in. Our next respite may not be until Christmas but it seems awfully early to be thinking about December already. September gives us a great opportunity to think about your team’s wellbeing and to ensure they are all managing their stress levels so that they are working effectively; able to cope with the demanding hours; meet tight deadlines, heavy workloads and ultimately achieve the results required.
A study conducted by the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA), found that 66% of those working within the technology community were ‘stressed by their work’; and ‘52% have suffered from anxiety or depression at some point’. Alarmingly, those working within the technology sector are ‘five times more depressed than the UK general population’.
Mental health problems cost the UK a staggering £70 billion with 91 million workdays lost each year, (Forbes).
The technology industry has a culture of long hours. Gone is the traditional nine to five working pattern, clients expect their technology consultants to always be online regardless of location or time of day. This can make it increasingly hard for employees to switch off from work.
So, if you think your team is feeling the post-summer slump, the most important thing you can do is to get the conversation started. Barclays launched a ‘This Is Me’ campaign which is designed to ‘break the cultural silence that surrounds the subject of mental health’. Employees who have suffered from mental health issues share their stories and these are housed on an online platform. The portal has received over 60K visits since its launch.
In addition, the Shaw Mind Foundation has set out some simple low-cost ways to reduce the impact of mental health in the workplace:
- Limit working hours and out-of-hours email access.
- If a person works from home, ensure regular check-ins with them to reduce prolonged isolated working.
- Set attainable deadlines and spread the workload across team members.
- Provide support services and staff members who are trained to deal with stress.
- Promote healthy eating and regular exercise. Offer employees an opportunity to get some exercise during the working day.
Whilst it may not be possible to achieve all of the above immediately, they are a great starting point. Consultants need to set expectations with clients, set out the hours they will be available and the deadlines they are working to. Once more organizations start to adopt these steps, clients will begin to accept this as the new normal.
At Barlow Search we are big advocates of promoting a healthy work-life balance often taking part in challenges (either individually or as a team), Claire completed the London Marathon this year and as a team we supported her training with lunchtime runs, we even swapped the office biscuits for healthier options! Our next team challenge is to take part in the St Rocco’s Colour run at the end of September, we are making this one a family affair and will be bringing the kids along too!