It’s time we started building healthier workplaces

by Amber Robinson August 15, 2019

If you’ve struggled with your mental health as a social media or community manager you are not alone.

The most recent Australian Community Manager survey (2018)  found 77% of community managers work more than eight hours a day and 32% report overwork and burnout.

Online community managers are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues due to the toxic material they moderate in the course of their work.

While we can’t take all the stress out of working in social media (there are loads of things we love about it, too!), we can build resilience in ourselves and our workplaces to better cope when times are tough.

With that in mind, we have worked with psychologist/rehabilitation counsellor Ceara Rickard to develop a training pack to help develop individual and workplace resilience.

Alison Michalk, CEO of Quiip, says the package is long overdue – “Online moderation can, at times, be stressful, disturbing and relentless. For our industry to thrive we need to start taking mental health seriously.”

What is resilience? 

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of stress, suffering or trauma. The term acknowledges that bad things can and do happen but that we can bounce back.

A lack of resilience can lead to overwhelm, and unhealthy or destructive coping mechanisms (e.g., lashing out at people or abusing drugs and alcohol).

Individuals can’t be resilient on their own, however.  They need supportive, resilient and healthy communities around them to thrive. And that’s where workplaces need to step up.

Tips for building resilience

  • Firstly, self-care has to be embedded at the organisational level. Build it into your culture, lead from the top and nurture it as a practice within your team.
  • Take threats to employee health and wellbeing seriously. We heard of an instance where one community manager had an online stalker and her workplace did nothing. In fact, community managers who have experienced harassment or bullying in the workplace, only 26% received support from their employer.
  • Do give your workers access to outside help via an Employee assistance program. Encourage flexible work options and schedule meetings in regular work hours. Re-consider sending emails outside core business hours, or lose the expectation that they should be answered outside of this time.
  • Teach employees to look out for each other and recognise when someone isn’t ok, or when their behaviour seems slightly ‘off’ which could indicate that mental health is on the decline.
  • Let your teams discover what self-care and wellbeing initiatives look like for them, rather than imposing one-size-fits-all initiatives like lunchtime yoga because let’s face it, not many of us want to do the downward dog with the CEO.

These are all simple, low-cost initiatives that are grounded in realistic mindset and culture adjustments than financial investment or enormous change programs.

Individuals have a role to play too. Self-care can mean walking away from workplaces who don’t support you or setting healthy boundaries with your manager and team.

Our industry now has a benchmark for mental illness of 56%. Talking about mental illness isn’t enough to bring that number down – it’s time to take responsibility for change.

For enquiries about Resilience Training in your Workplace please contact us here.

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