CIM urges Irish marketers to put employee wellbeing first

Much of the north's workforce has been impacted by social isolation and periods of enforced absence from offices and places of employment
Eileen Curry

WE recently marked 100 days since Northern Ireland went into lockdown. The marketing landscape across Northern Ireland, the Republic and beyond has changed drastically in that time, and yet worryingly few marketers are receiving the support that they need from their employers.

Working with recruitment experts Hays, we issued a warning to organisations across the UK and Ireland to consider the wellbeing of employees working from home.

The call comes in response to Hays research which shows half (47 per cent) of employers had failed to provide any form of wellbeing support to marketing teams since lockdown began 100 days ago.

Much of the workforce across Northern Ireland have been impacted by social isolation and periods of enforced absence from offices and places of employment, and uncertainty around when life can return to ‘normal'.

The marketing profession is no different. According to Hays' research, a quarter (25 per cent) of those in marketing across the UK and Ireland said a lack of social interaction has been the greatest challenge to their wellbeing, followed by isolation and loneliness (15 per cent).

Gen Z, born after 1995, were over than a third (38 per cent) more likely to report feeling isolated than their Generation X colleagues, born after 1965.

Just a third (32 per cent) of the 575 marketing professionals studied as part of the research rated their wellbeing as positive, which is half of the figure reported before restrictions were put in place (62 per cent).

Despite the lack of support received, the majority of professionals (78 per cent) surveyed believe their employer has a responsibility to look after their wellbeing.

Employers across Ireland have a duty of care to their employees. These findings paint a worrying picture suggesting a widespread lack of support.

We must continue to act with professionalism and compassion. Whether it's a simple call, regular communications or maintaining development through different support mechanisms, all can serve to help teams feel supported and valued.

Clare Kemsley, director of Hays Marketing, said: “Staff wellbeing needs to be a top priority for all employers across Northern Ireland and Ireland as the effects of the virus are felt on our personal and professional lives.

“Although the impacts will be different for everyone, remaining transparent and communicating to leaders and employees frequently will be extremely important as our way of working continues to change.”

“Some of the steps employers can take include using internal communication channels to provide wellbeing advice to staff, cultivating an open and trustworthy culture.”

Well-known neuroscientist Katie Hart, a director at Rhetonic, said: “These results present a worrying, yet not surprising, picture for marketing professionals. As human beings, social interactions are vital to our mental, and indeed physical, health.

“The negative effects of isolation that many of us are experiencing ( anxiety, stress, depression) are exacerbated as we have little control over our situation and feel that we cannot do anything to fundamentally change our circumstances.

“Taking a few moments to reach out to colleagues, peers and employees is such a simple, and yet powerful, way to improve their wellbeing - as well as our own!”

Employers need to engage face-to-face (albeit virtually) where possible but be prepared to be flexible with schedules and expectations. Have regular check ins with employees to provide wellbeing advice and ensure that they are okay, it can make a difference.

:: Eileen Curry is chair of CIM Ireland

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