The State of Well-Being in the Internal Communication Profession
— March 31st, 2022
The past two years have been two of the most significant years in living memory. Communication professionals worldwide have rapidly taken action to ensure their organization’s employees are safe and well informed.
Now, more than ever before, is the time for the communication profession to be firmly recognized for the vital strategic business function it is.
But it’s also been a brutal time for many. “Stressed”, “anxious”, “frustrated”, and “concerned”, are just some of the ways communication professionals collectively described how they’re feeling through the global So how do you really feel? survey I recently conducted.
Employee Well-Being: What we Can Learn From Behavioral Science
First things first. I’m not a mental well-being expert. I’m a communication professional just like you.
Even before the pandemic, I noticed I was having more and more conversations with my peers, colleagues, and clients about mental well-being. Our conversations would center around burnout, fatigue, workloads, time, or lack of, and frustration.
In 2020 I met mental wellbeing consultant and Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Julie Gillespie. Together we produced a free resource to assist communication professionals and business leaders to take a leadership role in helping their organizations’ workforces cope with mental health and wellbeing issues, recover and thrive in a post-COVID-19 world.
Later the same year, I hosted a virtual discussion about the mental health challenges communication professionals were facing during the height of the pandemic.
I invited experts to talk about how to manage stress and anxiety, avoid burnout, and create a safe working space. I walked away with some valuable self-care strategies, but it left me thinking: Why aren’t we talking more about this and what it’s doing to communication professionals?
During the discussion one of my colleagues said: “Hard work is valued in our profession and worn like a medal”. “Yes, but we need to remember how to be human,” said another. This hit me like a tonne of bricks, and my mind was made up. We need to talk about this, and we need to do it now.
Communication is critical to the success of any organization, institution, or individual and should be treated with respect. That is why this research is important to me and the Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence—the company I co-own and operate—because we want to play our part in advocating, supporting, and enabling organizations and individuals through work-life challenges.
As communication professionals, we are limited in our ability to rise to the challenges if we’re suffering.
I can’t wait to share the results of this global study at Poppulo’s upcoming Engage 2022 conference next month. The study includes insights from almost 800 communication professionals around the world about how they’re feeling about their mental well-being—to identify the barriers to improving it and gain insights that employers, leaders, and our profession’s associations can use to help ease the pressure.
The study, which includes the results of the survey and seven case studies developed through interviews with communication leaders around the world, highlights the fact that supporting the mental well-being of communication professionals is not just a “nice-to-have”. In this global race for talent, it has become a business imperative and a strategic advantage.
Not surprisingly, two-thirds of respondents said their mental well-being has declined since the beginning of the pandemic and more than half have considered leaving our profession because of this.
What struck me most is that less than half of the respondents are optimistic about their mental well-being going into 2022. This is cause for considerable concern and needs to be addressed as a matter of some urgency.
The upside is that communication professionals are taking action to help support their personal mental well-being. Even so, workload expectations and work-life balance are negatively impacting them.
And while many organizations provide leave, one in three communication professionals don’t believe they can take time-out to support their mental wellbeing.
At an organizational level, there is room for improvement. Three-quarters of respondents believe their organization should do more to support mental well-being in the workplace.
There is also a significant gap between what organizations provide to support mental wellbeing versus what communication professionals actually want.
These results highlight an incredible opportunity for communication professionals to collectively influence what comes next and help create the type of environment where they feel respected, accepted, and comfortable being themselves Essentially, workplaces where we thrive, flourish, and do our best work.
Because we really are stronger together. See you at Engage 2022.