October 10 is World Mental Health Day, a day we assign immense value and approach with respect for all our employees. Mental health issues affect countless people within the communications industry, and raising awareness of this issue, as well as the resources that can help, is a pillar of the culture that makes us who we are.
In 2021, we talked about a report from PRCA, revealing more than one third of PR practitioners in Asia felt the pandemic had “worsened their mental health.” Since then, the lingering effects of COVID-19 have exacerbated issues with poor mental well-being. PRSA-NY released a report last year indicating that 81% of PRSA-NY members “acknowledge that COVID-19 has impacted their mental health either a great deal or some.” Further, when asked if they believed the PR industry was more stressful than others, more than half said they did.
It’s a far cry to say we don’t recognize today’s challenges. We know that support is needed and that tangible solutions aren’t one ‘size fits all.’ We foster a culture where one feels valued enough to tell us what they need while providing ample opportunities to ‘get away’ from work every once in a while. World Mental Health Day is all about the mobilization of efforts, and as we continue to invest in our mental well-being, we thought we should share some of the practices that are helping us improve.
Early Leave Fridays
Every Friday of the year, we log off at 3 p.m. What started as “Summer Fridays” soon became a yearly benefit. While we won’t go into a debate on the outdated and exhausting 40-hour work week, we do recognize that sometimes, you just need to log off and enjoy the sunshine — or the rain or snow — at 3 p.m.
Nonetheless, because our weekends start a little earlier, we have more time to rest and relax after the work week. And as many of our U.S. employees are spread throughout the country, this benefit ensures that you get a head start on your weekend, no matter the time zone.
Each week, we take an hour of the workday back to focus on personal well-being. While we designate 3 p.m. on Thursdays as our wellness hour, employees may adjust their wellness hours depending on their needs. This hour is often used by employees for appointments, such as the dentist or doctor, but is also commonly used for therapy appointments.
However, many employees with kids and fur babies dedicate the hour to walks, playing, or some good old-fashioned cuddles. Whether you want to go for a run, or just lay in bed for the full hour, this benefit helps employees to recharge during their week. Because, as our recent guest speaker Graci Harkema wisely once said, rest is a part of the work!
Each employee gets an annual stipend of $600 to use towards a wellness benefit of their choice. From naturopath appointments to new running shoes to a much-needed day at the spa, this brand-new benefit has been instrumental in up-leveling mental health’s priority in the workplace. Self-care looks different for everyone, and this benefit allows each individual employee to pursue a form of self-care that works best for them.
At least twice a quarter, we take a step back from work and focus on creating a space where we can bond. Some of our favorite activities have been cake decorating, wine tasting, visits to the pumpkin patch, and more.
Team bonding goes beyond the workplace, and it’s important to step back and remind each other that we all have lives outside of work. Though these events are optional, they usually have full attendance by staff, and not just because of the free drinks! It’s important that employees get along, but it’s much more special when employees want to spend time together.
Each employee gets to choose a mentor to support them through their journey. While many mentors offer professional advice and workplace support, many are also there as a critical support system. From advice on buying your first house to tips and tricks on saving best practices, many Hoffman mentors have helped junior employees “learn to adult,” so to speak.
The mentorship program has also produced many friendships, showed people a new direction in the career that they want to pursue, and has been instrumental in training our next generation of leaders. Each employee has something unique to bring to the table, and this mentorship program allows each one to share that insight.
A culture of “niceness” is where we champion trust and reward kindness.
The monthly Buzz Lightyear Award recognizes employees who go to “infinity and beyond.” Alongside a shoutout at the staff meeting, the employee gets to sign and hold onto our very own Buzz action figure and may even receive a goodie or two. But kudos go far beyond an employee of the month. Sharing internal kudos and comments from clients to the agency has become a weekly, if not daily, practice. Employees deserve to be appreciated for their hard work and stellar wins, so here at Hoffman, they are. In any stressful industry, which many could argue is every industry, mental health must be a priority, inside and outside of the workplace. The better you take care of yourself, the better work you will produce. There is nothing more meaningful than a job you’re excited to do every day. Burnout is a common occurrence in PR, but it can be prevented by leaning on your teammates, utilizing any and all wellness benefits offered, and being “selfish” every once in a while.