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Women lead wellbeing in tech

mental health

By Haley McPherson, Global Marketing Director, & Samantha Hackett HR Manager, ProLabs

Working for a company that supports the wellbeing of its employees has really enabled me to grow professionally and develop my career as a woman in the tech industry.

People in the industry, but also in general, do not talk about mental health and wellness enough. From socials to break-out time or through creating open discussion, it is very simple for a company to support and foster wellness in the workplace and so important too!

Working my way up to become a Global Marketing Director of a tech company has not been an easy ride for me. Working in any industry, there are factors which could affect a person’s mental health and their ability to perform at work.  Working in the tech industry, there are certain challenges women in particular face with it being such a male orientated industry. Women can feel pressured or unrecognised in this environment which can affect confidence, mental health and career prospects. Having been a long-term sufferer of severe anxiety and other mental health issues for many years I had a rocky patch in my early career which could have led to two outcomes in my professional life; throw it all away or pull through and give everything I have. Whilst easier said than done, pulling through was the best thing I could have done and it got me to where I am today, leading the marketing of a global tech company at the age of 32. I feel very lucky to have had the support networks around me to help me achieve my career in the tech industry. All in all, this enabled me to find the strength to work hard and continue my passions for marketing and communications. Without this, I would not have been recognised as Marketing Leader of the Year at the recent Tech Marketing and Innovation Awards.

Having felt so grateful for the support networks around me in my earlier career, I have been working with our HR Manager, Samantha Hackett to encourage our tech company ProLabs, to integrate new workplace activities and initiatives to improve wellbeing in the workplace. Working with Samantha, we decided to make this year Wellness 2019 – a year in which we focus on mental health and wellness in the workplace. In doing so, we have educated the business on simple ways to improve personal wellbeing. Both Samantha and I believed that working in an environment which supports the wellbeing of its employees is empowering and I would encourage any company to take small, but simple actions to support workplace wellbeing.

For example, everyone across our company is invited to participate in Fit Fridays which take place once a month, which are hosted by our Office Manager Maggie Abellan-Charlton During Fit Friday everyone is encouraged to take their lunch hour on that Friday to carry out an activity or exercise, whether that be a walk in the Cotswolds, playing basketball in the warehouse, roller blading, using the onsite gym or playing football. Everyone who participates is rewarded with a team healthy buffet after exercise and over the year we have had many fun and exciting activities that have not only helped with personal wellbeing but also encouraged team spirit within the company.

To raise awareness within the company of mental health, we support a mental health charity this year called Twigs Community Gardens which gives people the chance to regain confidence after experiencing mental health problems. We hosted a charity football match to raise funds for a mental health charity whilst simultaneously engaging the team with healthy exercise and team building. We also placed posters and branding in the office which gave tips on improving mental health and wellbeing in the office environment. Samantha developed a presentation on advice and help on wellbeing and she also introduced quarterly massages days to staff to help them relax and eliminate stress. In addition, we relaunched our employee assistance program and Samantha delivered satisfaction surveys to extend the openness and communication across the board from activities and socials to the office which was an effective way of creating wellbeing throughout work. For employees to be recognised for their achievements and successes we also shared Customer First awards to recognise individual performance to encourage morale and positive esteem in the office.

While these things are only small actions to recognise wellbeing, we feel the office environment has seen an improvement since we began our Wellness 2019 year. Employees began to engage in new activities and communication and office morale has improved as well as people’s fitness. So many people suffer in silence and are embarrassed or see mental health problems as a weakness. Whilst speaking about my mental health to colleagues was admittedly tough and not easy to do, everyone at my work was supportive and I am so pleased I did. I would encourage others to do so too and even if they are not experiencing mental health battles personally, I would encourage people to begin wellness initiatives in their workplace as it may bring some relief to someone suffering in silence. All it takes is a few dedicated people to run it and any business of any size can. It just requires some time and effort with very little funding necessary. It’s easy and there’s lots of online forums and tips to help. Doing just one wellness activity in the workplace creates an open working environment for everyone to perform at their best and reach their full potential.

Haley McPhersonAbout the author

Haley McPherson, Global Marketing Leader of ProLabs is an experienced brand expert, marketing strategist and is skilled in: internal communications, analysis, promoting education and communication in the industry and social media.

Aged just 31, Haley has created a new era for vendor ProLabs, implementing and leading a complete global rebrand just six months after assuming the role in 2017, and has significantly improved internal communications and brand confidence, shifting ProLabs’ position in the market from an “average compatibles vendor” to a “high quality connectivity expert vendor”. The new messaging and positioning introduced by Haley challenges industry norms by looking to disrupt the OEM market by creating a new tier of expertise, quality and value.

While she excels at marketing and communications, she’s a keen advocate of promoting ProLabs’ people and team’s expertise and has pushed Thought Leadership as a key PR tactic, along with creating the CHOICE concept. Broken up into two segments: ‘CHO’ refers to the simple fact that they should “Choose ProLabs”, while “ICE” represents ProLabs as the “Intelligent Connectivity Experts” that they are.

Haley has worked in the industry for almost ten years across intelligence, cyber security, media and TV, where she has gained key skills and has kept in touch with everyone who has ever worked with her. A keen advocate for internal communications and a “happy workplace”, she knows the importance of a happy work place to encourage motivation and continued learning for staff morale.


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Five ways to boost your digital wellbeing in 2019

 

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As we enter 2019, the proliferation of digital devices means that we’re constantly connected to the office wherever we might be, making it difficult to switch off from work, even when we should.

In fact, a study by Glassdoor has shown the average number of UK employees taking their full annual leave is 62 per cent with only 43 per cent made use of 91-100 per cent of their holiday entitlement. What’s more 13 per cent reported only taking 20 per cent of their allowance.

Whether it’s a two-week holiday or a twenty-minute respite at lunch, John Williams, Head of Marketing at Instant Offices explains why 2019 should be the year to think about how to live healthily and happily by disconnecting from all  work-related screens and why this brings several important benefits, including increased productivity and overall happiness.

The Importance of a Well-Rested Employee

Although it may seem like a good thing from a productivity point of view, having employees constantly working can do your business more harm than good.

Further research found 23 per cent of those on holiday regularly checked their emails and 15 per cent admitted to doing some work out of fear of being behind on their return and missing targets. 20 per cent of employees surveyed also reported that they were expected to be reachable and available to carry out some work if needed.

The Office of National Statistics released figures that revealed three million UK employees work more than 48 hours a week, a rise of a quarter of a million since 2001.

Continuing to work over their holiday means that workers don’t get a chance to fully recover from the stresses of office life, and in the end, productivity and creativity can suffer when drained employees come back to work.

This is, of course, not even taking into account the health benefits of a holiday – stress and exhaustion take an incredible toll on the body, and overworked employees may end up taking more sick leave throughout the year. Finally, allowing employees time off to relax can result in an all-around boost for office morale.

Tips for a Digital Disconnect

  • Respect other people’s schedules. Don’t bother them with emails or calls when they have taken time off unless the matter is extremely urgent.
  • Prioritise your workload. If you absolutely have to work on your holiday, spend time on the important tasks only, and leave less important matters for when you are back in the office.
  • Set up an auto-reply on your email. This way, people who send you messages are alerted to the fact that you are on holiday. Provide a contact number for someone else in the office, who can be contacted if the issue is urgent.
  • Tell your colleagues that you’ll be going away. This may seem obvious, but alert others in your office that you are going on holiday. Sort out the most important projects before you leave, and let colleagues know that you will be unlikely to reply to work communications while away.
  • Avoid constantly checking your devices while on holiday. If you absolutely have to remain connected to work while on holiday, allocate a specific day, or a certain time of day when you will check and reply to emails, text messages and missed calls.

Indeed, many holiday retreats all over the world are now offering “digital detoxes”, where there is no Wi-Fi signal and visitors are encouraged to hand over their electronic devices.

Daily Work Breaks

It’s not just time off work that’s important – taking a proper lunch break every day is also beneficial.  And by “proper” lunch break, we mean moving away from your desk or your office cubicle. According to Forbes, incorporating an hour or half hour break into your daily work schedule can boost one’s energy levels, improve your mood, and provide additional morning motivation as you work towards your break.