Wellbeing, Employee Surveys

Wellbeing & the Media Industry: our language insights

Dhruv Patel

The media sector is one renowned for its creativity and ability to continually adapt to the changing tastes of audiences and changing forms of communication. From embracing social media to producing gripping documentaries, detailed sports analysis to the emergence of reality tv and streaming, the industry has always had to embrace change to move forward. However our language insights reveal a few challenges the industry has faced in adapting to a change that has impacted us all, the COVID-19 pandemic.

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As we know, production workflows have been largely disrupted by the pandemic, but for many this doesn’t mean a reduction in workload. Many media professionals, just as a lot of us, have been required to work from home which has meant creating engaging and interactive content from home.

Unlike other industries, where content may be in the form of a blog or article, the industry has actively pushed creative workarounds such as ‘at home’ live TV shows using video conferencing technology and has embraced and put a larger focus on technology such as streaming in a bid to minimise the disruption felt.

However this has posed problems of its own and our language insights reveal wellbeing as a large issue felt by those in the media industry.

Wellbeing is a risk within the media industry

We know workforces globally have felt their wellbeing affected in one way or another due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, by splitting the data in specific ways we have been able to see and understand the impact of the last year on different industries. As a result of this we have been able to identify the Media industry as one where wellbeing, and mental wellbeing in particular, is a large risk for its employees.

Data shows that turnover is double the national average in the media industry whereby 30% of employees leave their roles each year. Though much of this is driven by the large number of freelance workers in the industry, the numbers are astounding with at least 170,000 TV and Film freelancers having lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic – causing productions to be shut down entirely. And with predictions of investment in the media sector dropping and the industry embracing technology, streaming and the less expensive methods of production currently being used, many are concerned whether the jobs lost will ever be recovered.

As expected, this has had an adverse effect on workers in the industry. Those who have managed to keep their jobs and are working remotely highlight long working hours and the lack of support and communication from managers and employers. This has resulted in feelings of isolation and insecurity around job prospects, leading to a negative effect on wellbeing. Data from a media helpline highlighted calls regarding emotional support as the single largest reason for contact, with mental health calls up by 10%.

What our data has shown:

Our language insights reveal a potential reason for employees having to look externally for help – as a lack of communication and support from both employers and managers is an issue within the industry. Ironically support and communication are the two most admirable characteristics in role models for employees in the industry, something which seems to be currently missing.

To add to this, the Film and TV Charity also released a report with shocking figures highlighting the problem of wellbeing even further within the industry, which may have been known well before the pandemic. Below are some of the most standout statistics:

  • 87% of respondents have experienced a mental health problem in their lives, compared to 65% in the rest of the UK
  • 64% had experienced depression, compared to 42% nationally
  • 10% of Looking Glass survey respondents reported that they had attempted to end their life. This compares with 7% nationally
  • 62% of workers in film, TV and cinema said work intensity negatively impacted their mental wellbeing
  • More than 1 in 8 in Film and TV work more than 60 hours per week (compared with 1 in 50 on average). 57% of respondents felt that the lack of control they had over their working hours negatively impacted their mental health and wellbeing
  • 55% of workers felt those working with distressing or challenging content received insufficient support to manage their own wellbeing

Our takeaway: communication and support are key

Ultimately, this has been a problem brewing in the background within the Media industry for a while and has been brought to the forefront as a result of the effects of the pandemic.

Our language insights reveal more needs to be done in the areas of communication, with regards to job security and necessary information on changes taking place. Another focus should be support from both managers and employers when it comes to wellbeing, as it is a large risk which will only get bigger if ignored. Not just a risk for the workforce but for employers too.

Deloitte were recently able to put a figure on the effects of absence due to mental health, and the cost of productivity lost due to employees working through periods of mental ill health which is between £26.6 to £29.3 billion per year. That is only one aspect of wellbeing – situations such as the pandemic can have as crippling an effect on physical and emotional wellbeing which have not yet been measured.

It’s time to start the conversation

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