Craig Mathie managing director Bournemouth 7s Festival says that in the aftermath of the pandemic the events industry should put its people and their wellbeing top of the agenda.
This Covid crisis will end and events will play an integral role in our return to normality, I am absolutely certain of it. Then, and only then, we will need to look back and try to learn the lessons from a situation none of us saw coming.
We must also take some time to reflect, to remember those things which got us through. Of course, furlough, CBILS, and pivoting have all played their part but, for me, the number one thing which kept us going is our people – events are people.
From the audiences we bring together and the experiences we create for them to the dedicated army of incredible professionals who work tirelessly to keep the cogs of our industry moving.
As we emerge from a dreadful 12 months, we are faced with an opportunity to reimagine how we do things. This opportunity has a myriad of elements. From better managing our environmental impact to re-balancing our entertainment mix to better represent the communities we serve.
For me, though, the main thing we need to do better is to look after our people. To support that loyal band of creatives, operatives and spread-sheeters who, for far too long, have been expected to go beyond realistic expectations to make events happen.
Events are, and always will be, high pressured environments. Immovable deadlines and thousands of people create stress but we all have a responsibility to better recognise, plan for and mitigate these pressures and the impact they have on our people.
During my recently completed mental health first aider course, we spoke often about the ‘stress container’, a series of things which challenge our mental health and also some ways to release the pressure thereby improving our mental wellbeing.
An #eventprof’s stress container is full of challenges: long hours, periods of intense pressure followed by nothing, isolation, eating and sleeping badly because of time commitments and even isolation from loved ones. Once the stress container fills up, our mental health suffers and we have to do something about that as we push forward into a new normal.
I see this not as a negative but as an opportunity. We can get rid of the ‘man-up’ mantra, a pride in overworking and the competitive mindset which sees us brag about how many shows we’ve done in a row without a break.
The mental health agenda is everywhere. Society is waking up to the challenges it poses and our industry has some serious work to do. There are some incredible companies and people out there who are already driving this agenda but it’s time for every events business to consider their team’s emotional and mental fitness in their risk profile; lets aim to have a mental health first aider on every event site.