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A pandemic and the Mindful Movement from Palin Communications

Friday 14, Aug 2020

By Tessa Robinson, Palin Communications

If there is anything positive to be said about the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that open conversations about mental health have become more common - especially in the workplace. There has never been a better time for businesses to respond and to ensure they have the right policies and procedures in place to ensure the wellbeing of their employees. 

The PR and communications industry have the reputation of being highly stressful with competing tight deadlines, high client expectations and overtime being the norm. 

As someone who has recently began their career in PR - joining the Palin Communications team as a full time consultant earlier this year - I haven’t really found this to be the case (for the latter at least).

My colleagues and I are extremely fortunate that our agency’s culture has always prioritised the health and wellbeing of the team and has promoted flexibility and work life balance. This means that extensive overtime work is not the norm and we are encouraged to switch off after COB. 

However, through the early days of the pandemic, we realised that we had to do more. This unusual time helped us to understand the importance of creating clear policies and practices that ensure everyone is fully aware of the support available both inside and outside of our agency, particularly during isolation. 

This led to the creation of Palin Communications’ Mindful Movement. This initiative has been brought to life by members of the Palin team ranging from from Directors to Account Executives. This team have been working together with the entire agency to outline a policy that would guarantee we remain focused, proactive and accountable when it comes to maintaining good health and mental wellbeing.

As a snapshot, the Mindful Movement focuses on the following: 

  • The introduction of ‘mental health days.’ This is to ensure that mental health issues are treated just as seriously as any physically ailments and to normalise these conversations in the workplace
  • Tailoring individual 1:1 catch ups to ensure employees are being approached about their mental health and wellbeing in ways they feel most comfortable 
  • The creation of an internal calendar with workshop sessions from external experts, social events for the team and open sessions to reflect on our progress and discuss ways to continue to improve
  • Flexibility in work hours that respects the importance of work/life balance
  • Setting up a system to formally record overtime to ensure everyone is getting essential R&R 
  • Highlighting accountability and creating ways for employees to provide feedback on whether Palin is following the policy effectively 
  • Ensuring we are meeting the Mentally Healthy Minimum Standards, as a supporting organisation

This is only the beginning of Palin Communications’ mission to ensure that the health and wellbeing of our people is always at the forefront. We admit that we are in no way experts in this area; however, we are extremely proud to have set the wheels in motion for the Mindful Movement and we are fully committed to expanding the initiative as we look at our longer term agency goals. 

For me, on a personal level, it means a lot to have a team that is dedicated to providing support, especially while working through a time of uncertainty and unease.