How to look after staff mental health & wellbeing in the events industry

Anyone who works in the events industry will tell you that many of the things that make it such an exciting job can also result in classic work-related burnout. Long hours, extremely tight timescales and mind-boggling logistics are just a few of the signature features of a career in events – which all indicate that more needs to be done to protect the health and wellbeing of staff within the industry. 

In fact, one study carried out by charitable social enterprise EventWell showed that event coordinating is the fifth most stressful career. The research also showed that 42% of event professionals have ended up changing careers because of stress. 

If you’re an employer in the events industry, you might be wondering which steps to take to make sure you’re doing everything you can to look after your staff’s best interests. If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s take a look.

Listen – open the lines of communication

The first port of call for any employer looking to generate a culture of health and wellbeing is to communicate these intentions loud and clear. Feeling heard can be a powerful tool in itself when it comes to coping with workplace stress – so let employees know that you welcome their feedback, and are keen to learn about what would make life easier for them.

You could host team meetings to gather feedback, send out surveys or simply let staff know they’re free to drop you an email. Just make sure employees have a confidential option to communicate their needs, wants and stressors, as not everyone will feel comfortable doing this publicly.

Champion flexibility and build a culture of trust

Most people are aware by now that a shift is happening in the way we work. In a world of home-working, Zoom meetings and flexible hours, micro-management is getting less and less relevant, while autonomy is increasingly feeling like a workplace norm. If your events staff are regularly out and about visiting venues and meeting with suppliers – stop and ask yourself whether you really need them to check back in at the office, or if this is an unnecessary, outdated logistic. Similarly, consider whether your staff’s working hours could be made more flexible – is it essential that they show up at 9am every day, or would it better to let them show up later and work later if need be? Do they even need to come into the office every day at all? Working from home can be a great remedy for those with family commitments, or simply those who find unnecessarily commuting to the office every day to be a strain. 

Providing workers with true flexibility relies on instilling a culture of trust, which in turn helps to boost morale and give workers a sense of independence and freedom. Cue: less stress, and increased career fulfilment. Bingo. 

Foster inclusivity both behind the scenes, and within your events

It’s crucial to foster a true sense of inclusivity in the workplace if you value the mental health and wellbeing of your staff. To do so, no-tolerance policies should be in place to help tackle offensive or discriminatory behaviour, and you should actively seek to make sure your workplace and events are fully inclusive of everyone, no matter their race, gender or sexual orientation.

With this in mind, you might find our article on fostering LGBTQIA+ inclusivity at events useful. 

Promote rest, holiday-taking and self-care

In the UK, event professionals only rate their general wellbeing at 6 out of 10. Clearly, more can be done to improve people in the industry’s work-life balance, with this stark stat backing up the conception that event professionals are overworked and overstressed. 

To support your events team, it’s important to actively promote a culture of self-care; to make it known that you not only approve of holiday-taking but encourage it, and that you understand that your employees need time to rest. 

To achieve this, strive to remove as many barriers to staff taking holiday as possible. It’s your responsibility as an employer to make sure you have enough cover to enable employees to freely take the holiday they’re entitled to. This is all about a shift in mentality – it’s no good to tell staff they have to wait until things ‘calm down’ to take a break, when in reality that might be too late. Holidays should be taken to prevent burnout, not to try and remedy it.

Work to eliminate a culture of ‘presenteeism’

Presenteesim describes the common workplace phenomenon of staff turning up to the office in order to appear to be working – when in reality they feel too unwell to be productive. This kind of culture is damaging because it perpetuates the belief that taking sick days is bad, and that it’s better to show up to work even if it’s at the cost of your own physical or mental wellbeing.

To help eliminate this culture, make sure staff feel comfortable in taking sick days when they need to. And, while it can be difficult in the events industry, make sure staff know they can and should switch off once they’re off the clock. That means letting them know it's ok not to check emails on their days off. And making it common practice to have cover in place for those days off by providing clients with a second contact at your office.

Grow your mental health knowledge, and be truly available to your staff

To really be able to support your staff, you first need to understand how mental health issues may affect them. There are tons of great resources online, like this guide from the charity Mind, which can help you grow your knowledge around the topic of mental health. 

It’s also important to make yourself truly available to your staff, to actively normalise mental health discussions, and to promote a feeling of openness in the workplace. Make sure all employees get regular 1:1s with their line managers, and let them know they can approach you if they’d like to. Most importantly, make it clear that yours is an inclusive, open-minded workplace, and a safe space for staff to seek the help they may need. 

We hope these pointers help you to implement practices that lead to a happier, healthier workforce. 

Head here to learn more about our Covid-secure ticketing features, which can help you to protect your staff’s safety at events.