Mental health in the events industry


A couple of years back, the role of Event Manager was voted one of the top five most stressful jobs!

FoxWylie MD, Jonny, loves his job, but says it’s the stress that’s the hardest thing about working in the industry: “There are no second chances when it comes to events; no opportunity to say ‘oh well I can finish it tomorrow’. When there are 1,000 delegates turning up in three hours it has to be finished.”

Thankfully, there is growing awareness around mental health generally, and this extends to the workplace. So, there are lots of methods we can employ to help reduce stress in our daily lives and improve our mental wellbeing. Our Head of Events, Lisa, has also completed a Mental Health First Aid course, so it’s good to know that we have a level of awareness within our own team.

What makes the event world so stressful?

  • Events don’t sleep and neither do their staff! Before an event opens, and after it closes, there is always so much to do.
  • Events are time sensitive – As Jonny says, you can’t just give yourself more time to get something done
  • There are certain expectations from clients and delegates – These probably seem like they’re growing year on year!
  • There is a desire to top last year’s event – Which is automatically going to add to the pressure
  • There are teams of people to manage – When everyone’s stress levels are running high, it can be tricky to keep things going in the right direction
  • Multi-tasking is key – Need we say anymore?! Events are the epitome of multi-tasking!
  • Events are intangible – It can be hard to see their immediate effect
  • Thinking about ROI – Any sort of performance measure can be a stress trigger
  • Lack of sleep is a big deal – Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night; not always possible during an event!

The research

Stress Matters is an organisation that aims to reduce stress in the events industry. They carry out regular research to create insights into the industry that companies can use to create better working environments.

Here are some key points from their 2019 research:

  • 71% believe their colleagues are suffering from stress
  • 68% reference high workloads as the reason for their stress
  • 46% of the industry use alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to cope with stress
  • 20% of the industry work more than 61 hours a week

Stress and burnout 

Stress and burnout are two different things. Stress is a short term emotion, whereas burnout takes place over a longer duration.

According to Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson, burnout is: “A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations.” Burnout mainly affects people who are particularly committed to their work. In the events industry, that is most people, and so it is easy to see why it can have such an impact on event professionals.

And it’s a vicious circle. Having one employee off work due to stress or burnout puts additional pressure on those employees left behind, and so their stress levels inevitably increase.

We’re all responsible for making sure stress habits are changed before the worst happens.

What can we do to reduce workplace stress? 

First things first, we need to identify what is causing the stress and then we can start to put actions in place to reduce it.

Here are some steps to reducing stress:

  • Look objectively at your job role, perhaps with your manager, and decide if there is any work that can be delegated or at least put lower down the priority list
  • Take pride in your work and enjoy it. Make sure you have a clear purpose so that you can see and appreciate the results when they happen
  • Help others where you can
  • Take control of your own role and actively manage your time
  • Exercise self care – get enough sleep and plenty of exercise, and learn that it’s ok to say ‘no’ sometimes.

There are also plenty of workshops covering mindfulness and resilience, as well as individual and group coaches who can focus on your particular role or company.

And don’t forget that while we should always have tech-free time to relax during our day, there are many apps that can help make your day run easier. Take a look at our blog; ‘An app a day makes for a less stressful event!’

Finally, if stress and burnout ever cause you to worry about your health, always seek the advice of a health professional.

By |2019-09-19T10:42:42+00:00September 19th, 2019|Event Management|0 Comments