A solutions-based study
The UK events industry is a multi-billion pound contributor to the United Kingdom economy. According to the well-known ticketing platform Eventbrite, the industry was worth £42.3 billion in 2018 (Eventbrite 2018)
The term “events industry” is both broad by role definition and deep by way of diversity and range of services offered to clients from hotel conference space through to small “one man band” freelance events managers. There is a paucity of data showing how many people are employed in the industry. However, Eventbrite report there are 570,000 full-time equivalent jobs (estimate) The top ten agencies turn over £3.5 billion, most of which is generated outside our shores.
This study is an “audit” to measure the mental health well-being of the industry. The hypothesis being:-
“The events industry “people” are under immense stress and there is no cogent machinery to support employees, managers and directors/owners”
This study will also suggest eclectic methods of reducing stress, anxiety and depression (these terms will be defined later). Hence the study is “solutions” based. Those solutions will be grouped into three categories:-Must, Should and Could. In this way, directors & managers can make informed choices about how to support staff and foster a culture and atmosphere of holistic well-being.
Apart from Health and Safety legislation and civil law, there is no regulatory body underpinning the Events Industry. There are, however, several well-known associations and many events industry publications, fielded by world-renowned media houses.
- It is obvious from this study that 80% of all respondents find the events industry very stressful –this is not new.
- There is no overall mechanism for dealing with mental health wellbeing in the workplace. Managers are not embracing minimum standards such as mental health first aid at work.
- Most directors, managers and supervisors find the events industry very stressful.
- The study shows that despite huge publicity and efforts to make mental health issues less of a stigma, respondents are still attributing mental health sickness to some other reason, i.e a heavy cold.
- Some sections of the industry are very concerned about making mistakes or not completing a task, which leads to keeping them awake at night.
- Fear of failure and poor performance is also another strong indicator keeping people awake at night, coupled with anxiety, stress, deadlines, lack of time to complete tasks and money worries.
Systems and Policies at Work
Events industry professionals are crying out for systems and policies for dealing with mental health wellbeing at work. Some of the qualitative responses are very telling and have been around for years, such as allowing people the space to talk and know they will be listened to, realistic workloads, shared advice and guidance, case studies of best practise in respect of employee wellbeing, discounted deals for an anonymous helpline for support, longer lead times, rest time after events, compulsory mental health first aid certificates, better management support and understanding, mindfulness, flexibility of venues.
- The majority of respondents found that they could not complete their work in the time allotted.
- There is evidence that some staff are not being properly compensated for long hours.
- 73% of the respondents stated that they were under pressure to get their work done on time. This exacerbates stress, anxiety and depression.
- Interestingly, 80% of respondents said they were satisfied with the amount of responsibility connected with their jobs.
- 60% of respondents were asked to engage in jobs beyond their level of competency either sometimes or all of the time.
- One HR director of a large public service connected with events said they had no intention whatsoever of implementing mental health wellbeing policies due to cost.
- There was a higher correlation between Event Production staff and the Stress Index (Q15). The average was 8 (very stressful) with this group scoring 8.5.
- Participants reported where the events industry could do better to alleviate stress, anxiety or depression. There are in rank order:-
- Education to include:
Well-being, mindfulness, coaching, training
Longer lead-in times
Anonymous Mental Health Line for professionals
Proper time off compensation
Training for managers Remove crazy deadlines