The culture of the events industry has to change if the sector is going to properly address the wellbeing of event professionals.
That was the message from an M&IT roundtable on wellbeing at events, hosted at 30 Euston Square in London.
Helen Moon, founder of EventWell, said: “We have a massive culture problem in the industry. People are telling us that only 25 per cent of businesses in the industry are managing wellbeing well. When I burned out I had all of the benefits, 28 days holiday, everything, and I ignored all of it, because I worked in a work hard play hard culture.
“Unless we address the culture in our industry, all you’re doing with initiatives like Mental Health First Aid is sticking a sticky tape over a cut. You’re not dealing with the reason the cut is there in the first place.
“We’re seeing change, but the feedback is about culture. There’s an NHS study that says presenteeism is going to be more of a problem than absenteeism.”
30 Euston Square invited M&IT to lead the roundtable because wellbeing and mental health has been on Searcys' agenda for the past year.
Chris Richards, director of technical services at Jack Morton, said: “We’re trying to change the culture at Jack Morton. That’s the biggest struggle. The sticking plaster is a great analogy.
“I’m trying to ask what to do rather than having a PR moment. It needs to be embedded in the way everything works.”
Sandra Collins, head of communications at BCD M&E, said: “We’re trying to create an environment where you can say ‘it’s not okay’. We want to make sure people feel comfortable to share stress. It’s not a sign of weakness.
“We’re all in danger of taking on too much. A lot of this is about setting up good boundaries and saying ‘That’s not my responsibility’. If you take on other people’s work they will let you – don’t keep putting yourself in that position.”
The panellists, who hailed from across the industry, also discussed how venues can help with the wellbeing of event professionals.
Guests enjoyed a healthy breakfast at the venue, featuring items including apple, vanilla, spinach and kiwi smoothie, raspberry kombucha and charred pineapple skewers with lime and coconut soya yoghurt.
30 Euston Square is a Grade II* listed events venue available for various occasions in a convenient central London location. Home to the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), it benefits from 18 meeting rooms, an exam centre, a 300-seat auditorium and exhibition space with 3D screen, six heritage boardrooms, as well as a rooftop terrace.
Searcys oversees the catering, sales and marketing of the venue and delivery of all events, which include internal hospitality, as well as external events for a wide range of private and corporate clients.
For more on wellbeing look out for the mental health feature in the forthcoming February 2020 issue of M&IT
M&IT editor Paul Harvey is a journalist with more than 15 years of experience. He began his career in the local press, working for various titles across the north. Since joining M&IT in 2013, he has become a trusted and respected voice in the sector, championing event professionals and reporting on all aspects of the events industry for the brand.