Mental wellness must be the focus of learning and development

Mental wellness must be the focus of learning and development

Redundancy, global conflicts and hybrid working are just some of the challenges that require refreshed training solutions — and it starts with better mental wellness.

Right now is a particularly pertinent time to reinvigorate your training and development programme — and not just because we’re at the start of the year.

Take a look at what’s going on. There’s a huge amount of uncertainty and worry, from redundancy in our industry to wider worries about the conflicts across the world.

To add to that, post-Covid-19, we’re all trying to work out what hybrid working looks like, how we feel about this and how we can adjust to new working patterns.

These challenges, plus many others, require refreshed training solutions to give people the skills and mindsets they need to thrive, alongside the more traditional training programmes that have so far supported people.

We need to look at each challenge and respond to it through the lens of mental wellness.

Nabs’ industry-wide community consultation All Ears, conducted in 2023, revealed that 71% of respondents believe mental wellness needs to be more of a focus across our industry. Our response is that mental wellness needs to be a connecting thread running through each aspect of our industry, training and development included.

So what are the key areas for focus? Where should you be putting your budget and your attention?

One in three unable to talk about mental wellness

Supporting mental wellness

Management is a huge issue — and something that Nabs has identified as a key area for support. A notable 61% of All Ears respondents felt that their manager was overwhelmed by the demands of their role.

Meanwhile, our support team hears from many people who are struggling in their management roles, often because they’ve been promoted quickly and aren’t getting the support they need to step up into senior-level challenges.

What managers urgently need is training in the skills and understanding to support mental wellness. Management now is more than setting objectives and monitoring output. Line managers are often the first port of call for employees who need space to discuss their mental wellness and any challenges that they are facing. This can be a daunting and tricky task for line managers but, with proper training, there’s no need for awkward guesswork.

At Nabs, we’re excited about the management training we’re currently developing that will help to address these challenges, where we can help managers hold space for their teams and provide an empathetic ear while supporting their own mental wellness.

Creating safe spaces

To support managers, training on inclusivity and creating safe spaces can also be a great help. We know that when people can bring their whole selves to work, they fare much better.

However, we also know from All Ears, the Advertising Association’s All In census and our previous research Diversity in Focus that those from underrepresented groups feel far less able to discuss their personal lives and mental wellness, often having to cover or code-switch to fit in at work. This can add extra pressure to one’s mental state.

Managers can help to create a more welcoming culture, but only with proper training.

No more learning by osmosis

It’s important that the changing nature of where we work has had a particular impact on junior employees’ ability to upskill. There is a brilliant quote in All Ears from a senior leader: “Learning by osmosis was lazy. We need to find a new, intentional approach to training and development.”

Pre-Covid, when junior and senior staff were guaranteed to be together, there was a lot of learning by osmosis that was relied on to do the trick, with varied results.

That’s not our world any more. Now, in our age of hybrid working, we have a brilliant opportunity to shift fully into proper training. It’s a more thoughtful, planned and results-focused way to boost our junior colleagues

Handling a difficult environment

Junior colleagues (alongside many other experienced team members) want to learn skills to help them continue working effectively in a difficult landscape. They may be facing increasing workloads, the looming prospect of redundancy or conflict with colleagues (the latter being a new and growing theme for people contacting Nabs for guidance).

Workshops on responding to pressure, navigating change and managing difficult conversations can all be a great help here.

Building a new kind of culture

I hope you’re excited about the opportunity you have: to build a culture of active listening, acceptance, support and mental wellness through training.

Get it right and you’ll reap the benefits — namely engaged, thriving teams who want to stay the course with your organisation, lifting other people up to succeed, as well as doing well in their own roles.

Finally, don’t forget about yourself while you’re planning training and development for your teams. As we continue to work in a volatile world with a changing landscape, I would urge you to take the time to step back and centre your mental wellness, focus on your values and reach out for support from Nabs.

Katrina Urban is head of learning and development at Nabs

Adwanted UK is the trusted delivery partner for three essential services which deliver accountability, standardisation, and audience data for the out-of-home industry. Playout is Outsmart’s new system to centralise and standardise playout reporting data across all outdoor media owners in the UK. SPACE is the industry’s comprehensive inventory database delivered through a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution which delivers the ooh industry’s audience data quickly and simply into clients’ systems. Contact us for more information on SPACE, J-ET, Audiotrack or our data engines.

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