Does your organisation do enough to support Wellbeing?

Read about what happened when the Event Marketing Association joined forces with Eventwell to discuss improving wellbeing in the event industry 

Rcently the Event Marketing Association hosted its monthly members event at the wonderful OXO2 on the Southbank. The topic of conversation was Improving Wellbeing in the Event Industry. The EMA partnered with Eventwell, the event industry’s first and only social enterprise and resource for wellbeing advice,

Research has shown that the event professional is in the top 5 most stressful jobs. 1 in 3 event professionals will suffer a period of mental ill health, the national average is 1 in 4 and event professionals only rate their general wellbeing as 6 out of 10.

The Event industry is a wonderfully diverse industry but one that potentially needs to take a look inwards. The industries most valuable asset is its people surely therefore their wellbeing should be a priority to ensure productivity, profitability and growth.

The EMA is very proud to be supporting Eventwell and used the event to ask its members (in-house corporate event planners and marketers), what challenges they face, what their organisations do to support wellbeing, what individuals do or don’t do to promote their own wellbeing and what support they feel is needed.

The event saw the audience split into 2 groups. Each group had an Eventwell expert facilitating a really engaging conversation. The evening began with a series of polls which generated some really interesting results –

 When asked if their organisations offered some form of wellness program – 46% said yes, 23% said no and 31% said don’t know.

 When asked if their senior leadership team are supportive of mental health and well-being within their organisation? – 60% said yes, 40% said no.

 When asked do you think cost is the biggest barrier for not implementing wellbeing in your business? 43% said yes and 57% said no.

 When asked, Have you experienced mental health or well-being concerns due to work pressures? 29% said yes wellbeing concerns only, 43% both mental health and wellbeing concerns, 29% said neither.

Laura Capel-Abra from No More Ifs or Buts had this to say –

“A really interesting discussion that showed some really positive steps by some of teams represented on offering options to the teams in how to improve their health and general wellbeing such as lunchtime walks, fruit in the office, gym memberships etc.  Where it started to vary somewhat was the level of support from managers and we spent a lot of time talking about how influential the managers' approach/style and the company culture can be on how you feel at work.  We discussed how it was far more useful to have line managers putting into place preventative measures before it was too late but also recognised that often managers are not trained on how to manage people so we need to look higher up the seniority chain to ensure people are trained correctly.   We had an interesting discussion about how the momentum can be kept up on-site and we talked through the concept of planning the team experience like we would the delegates experience, even if that means spending that bit more in the short term, it would help in lost sick hours long term.”

 Laila Datoo, from A Life More Mindful reported the following –

“Does your organisation offer some form of wellness?

  • Mixed responses- some have newly formed HR teams and can see more initiatives on the horizon.
  • Most of the group felt the initiatives needed to come from HR to be joined up and most effective.
  • One participant’s company created a nutrition challenge based on physical health. The whole team got involved and it worked well.
  • There were very few tangible examples of what companies are doing to offer wellness.

 Can you talk about it in the business?

  • We talked a lot about communication and how comfortable people feel discussing any mental health issues.
  • Most felt comfortable talking to their direct bosses but wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing it openly because they don’t know if senior staff are open to discussing it.
  • Mental health ambassadors or senior people who are willing to share their experiences are very powerful in opening up communication.
  • We agreed the culture of openness needs to be set by the management.
  • We discussed how knowing how your team are, is really important. Knowing what is going on with day to day and getting to know about their personal lives helps them feel safe and able to communicate any problems.

What are the barriers to open communication?

  • Fear of companies admitting there is an issue.
  • Fear that if one person says it, it can open a flood gate (is this a bad thing??)
  • Physical illnesses are treated differently to mental illness and discussed more openly.
  • Often people suffer from physical illnesses (flu, colds, aches) that link back to poor mental health, low resilience & stress. Is this acknowledged?
  • Are line managers properly trained to support any issues?

If the business doesn’t offer wellness – what can you do as a team?

  • Keep open communication in the team – know your team and how they are doing.
  • Plan resources for busy times and ensure everyone is supported.
  • Have a visible task management system so that you can see what everyone is working on / if someone has too much on their plate.
  • Encourage wellness as a team – walking meetings, breaks away from desks, taking a pause at the start of a team meeting, doing a check in at the start of a meeting (how are you feeling?), having wellness buddies in the team.

What tips can you offer in the run-up period to a big event / 2-week busy period?

  • Holding onto your normal self-care routine – sleep, nutrition, the gym class you love. Maintain this.
  • Keeping strict boundaries of start and finish times at work.
  • Communicating to your manager any pinch points.
  • Planning pinch points in advance so the business is resourced and prepared.

What would you do in a 25min lunch break to feel the best you can?

  • Go for a walk outside.
  • 5 min meditation / deep breathing in a quiet space – use an app like Insight Timer.
  • Do something you love – read, draw, colour, even for 5 minutes – away from your desk if possible to give yourself a mental break.”


James Hitchen, General Manager of the EMA said “Looking after ones mental and physical wellbeing is so important, I speak from experience. Gone are the days of working for the sake of it, we need to work smarter. We are an industry that needs to take stock and improve our relationship with wellbeing before someone who does not understand our industry steps in and makes decisions for us. Wellbeing is not just a tick box exercise it should to be an integral part of our industry’s culture.”

 The EMA will be running a series of wellbeing focused events throughout the rest of the year.

 Richard Waddington EMA chair said “It is great to be able to support such a good cause. We look forward to supporting Eventwell moving forwards.”

 Eventwell has their 2nd Event Wellbeing Week on the 17th to 21stSeptember 2018.

Author - James Hitchen, EMA General Manager