Mental Health Awareness 2019: Mischief PR

With the ability to 'switch off' being key to combating stress, Mischief bans work emails between 7pm and 7am, barring exceptional circumstances.

Chief executive Frankie Cory (main image) was previously guilty of messaging after 7pm. Her solution: saving messages in draft and sending them the next day.

Similarly, while ignoring all emails during annual leave is probably unrealistic, Cory insists on a "total email blackout" for at least 10 holiday days a year. Again, the CEO leads by example.

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"If I'm on holiday emailing my team every day, it sets a behaviour that I expect them to email me every day when they're away. When I'm sending emails because my kids have gone to bed in the evening, I don't expect them to respond, but it's still creating a behaviour."

The 70-strong agency – which won the Culture category in the 2018 PRWeek Best Places to Work Awards – focuses on what it calls "work-life blend". This means emphasising in equal measure work goals, life goals and team goals, and talking to employees about all of them.

This can pinpoint issues affecting mental health. For example, it emerged that some Australian employees were missing their families, and the time difference made it difficult to phone home. So the agency introduced "Aussie hour", and they can now call in the optimal 10am slot.

Talking of talking… several line managers have been trained to identify mental health issues, and Mischief has also implemented Talk It Out, where staff are paired with a colleague for 15 minute sessions to talk openly about how they feel.

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Cory explains: "The first five minutes you're talking about things at the top of your mind, and the next five minutes you're talking about things that are buried quite deep in your subconscious. It brings a lot of things to the fore. That ongoing initiative allows and enables conversations to happen every day and become quite normal."

Regarding tangible business benefits of Mischief's initiatives, Cory highlights the low staff turnover: "The fact we've only lost one person to another agency [in 2018] is a real positive," she says.

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