Managing stress and mental health should be the epitome of any business and is something that Fetch Media takes incredibly seriously.
April marks Stress Awareness Month, a time for bringing to light the causes and symptoms of stress as well as learning tips on how to manage the condition. Stress affects all of us in different ways and according to the NHS* symptoms can include being overwhelmed, irritability, feeling anxious or fearful and lacking in self-esteem.
Working in technology, it’s very easy to become stressed. At Fetch, managing this condition is of the utmost importance, especially given that according to HSE* (the body responsible for the encouragement and enforcement of workplace health in the UK) 526,000 people experienced work-related stress, anxiety or depression between 2016 and 2017 and because of this, 12.5 million working days were lost during those years. This stress and anxiety could have been built up for a number of reasons, including the fact that only 8% of UK employers have standalone wellbeing strategy in place* – most opt for one-off initiatives that ineffectively address the core problem.
Open Source Mental Illness (OSMI) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to raising awareness, educating and providing resources to support mental wellness within the technology sector and their 2016 survey highlights that an astonishing 71% of those surveyed have employers whom have never formally discussed mental health, with a further 42% unsure as to whether talking about a mental health problem with employers would have negative consequences. As a technology business ourselves, we realise how easy it is for our brains to become overwhelmed by competing tasks and demands. For example, multi-tasking can quickly become counter-productive because our brains become overloaded and stressed; with cognitive function simply breaking down.
More must be done to remove the stigma and shame within the technology sector, with us all needing to follow suit from the likes of Google, Microsoft and Facebook. At Google for example, flexible working, fitness on site and wellness and healthcare services are available for every employee. Just think – during an average working day we respond to messages from a multitude of platforms including email and Slack, as well as messaging apps like Whatsapp, but are we all primed in every moment to recognise unconscious triggers? Science suggests not.
Luckily, organisations such as Heads Together, the mental health initiative coordinated by The Royal Foundation have tools and initiatives spread throughout the various charities that they help to organise (Mind, Best Beginnings and CALM to name but a few) such as a documentary that the Duke of Edinburgh did with Lady Gaga or Prince Harry’s involvement with the Invinctus Games.
With all of the above in mind, we’ve compiled some of the initiatives that have been rolled out across Fetch to help inspire you to make some positive changes in your own life, or even ask for them at your own workplace.
Known to be one of the best activities for reducing stress, yoga classes at Fetch are organised by the social committee and are subsidised by more than half price. Taking place on a Monday lunchtime, these stress-busting classes are a great way to take some time away from our desks and think about something else, if you want to think about anything at all. Involving all things mind, body and soul, yoga can help relieve all kinds of stress and physical tension that you could be experiencing.
Dedicated to promoting a healthy work/life balance, one of the great things about Fetch is its social committee. Ran by volunteers from different teams at Fetch HQ, bonding time with colleagues is paramount to the overall working environment. Whether it’s a conversation over drinks on Friday, a monthly movie night (the aptly named ‘Fetchflix’) or even quarterly social events and annual away days, social time is a key principle of Fetch and contributes to the overall wellbeing of the workforce.
Whilst social time is an integral part of Fetch’s core ethos, so is making time for all employees to wind down and not interact with work once the day is done. Staying later than truly necessary is discouraged, and all employees are welcome to work at home if needed. What’s more, Friday’s and public holidays mean an early finish. During the working day, stepping away from computers and emails whenever needed is encouraged. Whether employees want to use their lunch break to head to the gym or to simply go for a walk and clear the air, at Fetch taking a full hour for lunch is of the upmost importance. Making sure to keep everyone’s mental health a priority, Fetch HQ is currently in the process of having a meditation and mindfulness place installed for the ultimate stress-free experience.
Some love yoga, others don’t but Fetch makes sure to cater to all via a range of different sporting activities. Our weekly running club is ran by a couple of Fetch’s most experienced marathon runners, and takes off on a route that includes the most picturesque parts of Shoreditch. For those who fancy a casual kick-about, Fetch’s football team certainly hits the spot. Enthusiasm is encouraged as opposed to real talent (although it’s always a plus) and the team play weekly at one of East London’s most dynamic hotspots. Finally, team Fetch make the most of the Summer-time sunshine via the annual softball team. The perfect excuse to head to a local park and bond, one of softball’s perks is its amazing stress relief from swinging a bat and hitting a ball.
One of Fetch’s most interesting initiatives is working with Sanctus. Aiming to change the perception of mental health, Sanctus is essentially a gym for your mind. Treating mental fitness the same as physical fitness, Sanctus coaches instead of counsels, normalising the conversations around mental health and removing any potential shame or stigma. Fetch employees can sign up for fortnightly forty-five-minute sessions with a Sanctus coach and anything spoken about is completely anonymous.
All stress-related symptoms compiled by the NHS, as well as guidance on how to manage stress can be found here.
All HSE statistics used in this article can be found here.
All statistics regarding mental health in the technology industry can be found here.