HR & Management

Published

Mind control: Mental health starts with an honest and open office culture

6 Mins

Research has long maintained the marketing world doesn’t own an “off” button – that it’s one of the worst sectors when it comes to blending work and home life. But Impression co-founder Tom Craig explains any resulting stress can be efficiently managed through an open and honest workplace culture.

He founded the agency alongside Aaron Dicks in 2014 – and since then the company has become a formidable player in the field. It has grown quickly and today, the duo head up a team of more than 30 employees. Needless to say, their health has been at the forefront of Craig’s mind.

In fact, he opines that a large part of said growth was focused around creating a productive, enjoyable, safe and nurturing working environment for staff. There’s a beer fridge, not to mention table tennis area. However, there’s more to boosting mental health than offering nifty perks.

We found that a culture supporting honesty and happiness benefits all – and that even the boss needs to keep their mental health in mind.

What do you think are the biggest factors leading to mental health issues?

That’s a big question! We make an effort to be open minded. We know mental health issues can affect anybody, at any time, so we make sure we have a culture that encourages honesty and support as appropriate.

What do you believe are the benefits of investing in employees’ health and wellbeing?

As an agency, our product is our time and our people. We recognise that investing in their health and wellbeing has the knock on effect of happier clients – and the ongoing growth of our business.

It’s not just about the service we provide our clients, though. We’re all at work eight hours plus, five days a week, so it’s worth creating an environment in which people feel comfortable and happy. We encourage creativity and collaboration, which is a big part of the culture we’ve built here, from things like open spaces and large sofas to table football and table tennis.

When we can keep our employees happy, we have a lot more fun as a team and we get much better results. Our commitment to wellbeing has also been a big draw for new talent. We pride ourselves on recruiting great people and having this focus on personal development and the office environment has really supported that.

In what ways do you invest in your employees’ health and wellbeing?

We believe health and wellbeing starts with an honest and open office culture. When our team feels they can open up and talk to us about any issue, we’re empowered to do what we can to help.

One way we’ve enabled this is through strong line managers and regular catch ups. We’ve got plenty of meeting space and people are welcome to go out of the office for chats they need to have too. This has worked well in enabling teams to raise concerns early on.

We also work with an HR professional, who has taken the place of a full HR department. Becky is available any time to speak to the team and, because she’s external to our business, is sometimes easier to approach with more difficult issues. Through her, we also have access to a wellbeing hotline, which is available to call when staff don’t want to speak to anyone here. There’s also a yoga and wellness specialist who they can visit for massages and meditation.

On a more practical level, we buy fruit bi-weekly. We also operate flexible hours. Between 10:00-16:00 we’d like people to be in the office, but if they want to start early and finish early, or vice versa, they’re welcome. That makes for a better culture, not to mention work-life balances. It means our team can better manage their everyday responsibilities.

Would flexible working be of great benefit to companies and employees alike?

For sure. We know our team appreciates having the more flexible approach to working hours, including things like the free fruit and the games areas. It just makes for a more enjoyable working environment overall.

It’s meant more effective working, greater productivity and the ability to attract a higher calibre of talent. Work-life balance is more important than ever before and as such, employers like us see the benefit in providing flexible hours when recruiting and retaining staff.

Read on for advice on addressing staff mental health

Share this story

The biggest technology flops – and their current worth on eBay
Getting to the heart of the worker experience
Send this to a friend