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Developing a wellbeing strategy needn’t be stressful

It’s National Stress Awareness Day, so to mark the event, we’re releasing the second instalment of our blog on employee wellbeing. Having explored the causes and effects of workplace stress in part one, we’re excited to share insights into our progress over recent months in implementing a wellbeing strategy here at TTA.

Why do businesses need a wellbeing strategy?

Naturally, we want to look after our people’s best interests, but good intentions and ad hoc gestures don’t go far enough towards creating an environment in which everyone can thrive. As with any business initiative, we need to be clear about wellbeing objectives, identify where interventions or activities may be needed, and be able to measure the effectiveness of any actions we take.

That’s why we have been formalising our approach to employee wellbeing and developing a cohesive strategy that everyone can benefit from. Earlier this year, we started looking for practical, effective ways to identify and lessen avoidable or excessive pressures on our team, and firmly embed these measures within our culture and working practices.

Accelerating our wellbeing strategy with a proven framework

We’ve been working with Stress Matters, an organisation dedicated to wellbeing in the events industry, to start with a proven framework that will allow us to incorporate wellbeing into ‘business as usual’ with measurable outcomes.

Through a series of workshops, we’ve refined our understanding of stress, its many manifestations and its potential impact in the workplace. At our recent annual company meeting, Stress Matters helped our team become actively involved in developing a tangible action plan and generate ideas to promote wellbeing across four dimensions: physical, mental, spiritual and emotional.

Taking the pledge to reduce stress in the events industry

Stress Matters has developed ten pledges based on findings from research among the event management community, spanning the categories of communication and culture, resourcing, and client/stakeholder management. Businesses can sign up to as many or as few pledges as are relevant to their priorities and the needs of their workforce.

We are initially focusing on the pledges that we believe will make the biggest difference to our people, culture and clients.  They are related to: fostering a culture of openness surrounding mental health; training for managers to provide basic emotional and stress management support; ensuring no one works for more than 14 consecutive days without two days off; and developing a wellbeing charter that will also be shared with clients.

These pledges will be regularly reviewed within the context of our business and the needs of our people. While the impact of a wellbeing strategy on individuals is felt qualitatively, there are HR indicators that we can monitor, such as number of sick days, that contribute to an annual Stress Matters benchmark score, which will act as a barometer of our progress.

A SMART action plan for the year ahead

Establishing a wellbeing strategy is just the start, so we have developed action plans for the next three, six and twelve months that translate our vision into practical measures that we can steadily implement over time.

In the short term, we’ve set up an internal wellbeing channel to provide an outlet for our people to share their personal pledges, recommendations and resources. We’re also updating our staff handbook to include policies and practices that promote wellbeing, such as ensuring lieu days are used promptly to help us recharge after a demanding stint onsite, and signposting the ergonomic accommodations we can offer, such as standing desks. Ongoing communication is vital, and we’ve scheduled quarterly staff updates and bi-monthly training to disseminate best practices and success stories.

Over the year, we’ll also be looking at specific personal development opportunities, setting up a buddy system, establishing a steering group to focus on our working environment, and formalising an office Code of Conduct to foster inclusivity, respect and healthy ways of communicating. 

Stress can’t be avoided… but it can be managed

As much as we love our dynamic and diverse industry, we know that events management can be inherently stressful, particularly working agency-side where tight deadlines and sky-high expectations are the norm.

There’s a big difference between “eustress” (the good kind of stressor that keeps us motivated) and “distress” (the bad kind that saps our energy and performance). By having a clear, company-wide focus on wellbeing, we can equip and support our people to respond positively to inevitable stressors and manage individual stress levels more proactively. After all, our mission is to “change minds and lives” through events, so where better place to start changing minds and lives and lead by example than within TTA’s own offices? 

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