Tank Talks – Wellbeing in the workplace!
It’s Mental Health Awareness week and with this year’s theme being loneliness – we want to open up about our struggles throughout the pandemic and share some insights on how our team of now 17, combat loneliness and have evolved into a hybrid way of working.
Now, before you get too excited, our team are certainly no experts when it comes to mental health and wellbeing and although we will lend a fin of advice where we think it might help, we realise this isn’t a one-stop fix for all the extensive mental health problems that exist in everyone’s day to day lives. If you require professional support we urge you to reach out to the many charities that can provide professional support such as Samaritans, Better Help and Mind, to name but a few.
Along with the many other problems that soared in the global pandemic, mental health conditions were right there at the top, with many online and offline communities recognising the impact loneliness and isolation were having on the majority of the population. Emphasising the importance of looking out for our family, friends and workmates – we began making changes in the tank to introduce more wellbeing initiatives and provide the team with a ‘safe space’ to open up.
After being forced to adapt to the WFH life for what felt like forever, as soon as the announcement came that working from home was no longer required – we were thrilled to dive back into our creative agency environment based in West Yorkshire and explore a new hybrid way of working.
With some of our team being solely remote, it was a huge priority to introduce new initiatives to the team to increase wellbeing and make sure we all still connect and work together well, feeling a sense of community. With some team members based as far away as Surrey, they don’t all get to experience the everyday life of working as part of an integrated marketing agency based in the heart of rural West Yorkshire, so we introduced a new regular event to bring us all closer.
That’s when ThinkTank Tuesday was born – what started as a casual chat to divert our eyes from our screen for 15 minutes soon hatched into a weekly educational workshop that we all look forward to attending. With a new topic of conversation each week – we tackle everything from improving communication to delving deeper into the technical tasks of our job roles as part of a design agency – sharing our personal thought processes and the internal journey we take when approaching a project and how we then derive the end result for Fishtank Agency’s clients. These learning sessions not only allow us to form a deeper understanding of each other’s talents and skillsets but also gives each department a little more clarity around the task at hand and the time and effort involved to make it a success. These sessions also allow us to acknowledge each other’s workloads and how this could be taking a toll on our mental health.
As part of ThinkTank Tuesday, we encourage the whole team to get involved, speaking freely to voice their opinions with no judgement. Some weeks we simply discuss what makes us happy and how we balance the demand of our fast-paced agency life with life outside the tank. Creating a safe space to support, educate and most importantly listen.
Listening is something we all take for granted – a simple trait with an abundance of benefits. As Stephen R. Convey comments in the ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ –
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.
If you don’t know about ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ get to know it – it will change your life. Even if you believe the theory is dated or irrelevant – it will change the way you think, the way you feel and in turn, the way you act. Considering Convey’s opinion forces us to think about how we communicate with those around us and also begs the question – do they feel listened to by us—prompting a self-analysis and analysing of how we approach such a ‘simple’ act as listening.
Our efforts to learn from the greats also spiked our curiosity about employee engagement and staff morale. Understanding the importance of appreciating the tireless workings of the team and rewarding every individual for their output to produce great results for our clients; whether that’s creativity in design, problem-solving in website development or building long-lasting relationships with our clients – that’s how our Starfish of the Month initiative was born!
Our spin on the ‘employee of the month’ gives thanks to the team for their ongoing efforts and also allows each of us to vote anonymously every week, with the option to share a comment of positive feedback. All of the fabulous feedback is then added to our very own ‘Smile File’ that we can refer back to if we are feeling low on confidence or having a ‘bad day’. This playful incentive boosts morale, creates healthy competition, demonstrates our appreciation for one another and above all gives each of our team members that mental boost they didn’t know they needed
Alongside supplying an endless supply of coffee and skittles, other ways we encourage well-being in the workplace are location, location, location! No matter where we are in the country, our base in the heart of West Yorkshire, on the outskirts of Huddersfield, creates a tranquil escape for the creative mind, bringing together like-minded people in the rural countryside to let our innovation run free.
You may be wondering how our remote workers stay in tune with their natural roots – we frequently arrange days where they can work closely with the team inside the tank and get involved in the bizarre conversations that bubble up daily.
Usually binding their visit with a Fishtank get-together, mostly involving good food and one too many drinks, we do occasionally dive-bomb out of our comfort zone and experience something new. From axe-throwing through Crystal Maze all the way to glamorous charity balls – we are always ready to let off some steam and build on workplace friendships that will last a lifetime!
On a Tuesday afternoon, innovation isn’t the only thing running free from the tank – our (extremely weather dependent) running club meets after hours to encourage some healthy living. From first time runners to avid sprinters we try to make it enjoyable for everyone – if you happen to be in the Huddersfield area on a Tuesday afternoon, why not join us?
Along with starting our own running club, we also found a common love of reading amongst the team which resulted in creating what is now known as our ‘Book Corner’. Allowing us to share our favourite reads – whether fiction, non-fiction, work-related or not – it’s an open space for all. As you can probably imagine, reading plays a vital part in most of our roles – not just from a copywriting, proofing and content perspective but as it also unleashes untapped imagination in the design team and opens new doors into the world of website development. Although some reads may be more niche and often specific to each of our job roles, we tend to find the occasional diamond that has the ability to spark each of our interests.
Reading this blog, you’re probably thinking “it must be impossible to feel lonely surrounded by these incredible people” but the truth is – we do get lonely sometimes and it’s totally normal to feel that way. Whether at work or home, the minute you acknowledge the feeling of loneliness is the minute you can begin to act upon it. We can, hand on heart, say the small changes we’ve begun to implement have already made a huge difference to our team and their mental health. However, there is still a long way to swim and lots more concepts we would love to introduce in the near future.
So we’ll be remaining focused on our mental health and wellbeing, bringing in more resources to help us through our crazy lives – remember, there are loads of things you can do to take care of yourself and avoid loneliness. Start by thinking about what makes you happy. Can you turn this into a hobby or even join a group or social media platform with like-minded people? Do you have someone who can listen to you or someone you can listen to and learn from – it doesn’t have to be someone you know, why not try a podcast or vlog.
There are many tips and tricks to deal with loneliness and we are supporting The Mental Health Foundation by helping to raise awareness around the topic.
Together we can tackle loneliness!