Flexible and part-time working are concessions that agencies have to make to ensure the work-life balance and welfare of PR professionals in the Middle East, according to a landmark new study.
More executives also need to ensure the mental wellbeing of their employees, with one in five professionals in the industry suffering from mental health issues, the PRCA’s inaugural Middle East PR and Communications Census found.
The Census, which was conducted in collaboration with YouGov and supported by PRWeek Middle East, found that while two-fifths (43 per cent) of respondents do not take advantage of any flexible working arrangements, 57 per cent of respondents do make use of flexible working arrangements - with flexi-time, working from home, and additional holiday the most common schemes. Of the small number who work from home, the majority (60 per cent) do so one day a week.
However, PRCA MENA regional board member Loretta Ahmed (below), CEO of Grayling Middle East and North Africa, said more flexible hours should be introduced, especially to encourage new mothers back into the workplace.
"We have to keep women in the workplace. This will only happen if companies adopt more flexible practices. Flexible working is a no brainer – done well, it improves engagement, trust, and business performance."
The study found that a fifth (20 per cent) of those responding to a question on mental health said they had been diagnosed with or suffered from a mental health condition. Younger professionals were more likely to say they had been affected by this than older respondents.
Some respondents focused on the cause of periods of mental health, which were a mixture of personal (for example, bereavement) and work-related (for example, bullying).
One respondent, who was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder when working as a journalist, reported that the shift into PR "helped me with my treatment, as there is more support (more teamwork) and room to decrease pressure - for instance, you can’t push deadlines when you’re a journalist".
Respondents are contracted for an average of 42 hours per week in the region, but in reality, work the equivalent of an extra day each week, clocking up an average of 50 hours.
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