Wellian Weekly 25.10.2021

Social Media, Mental Health, Corporate Hospitality. Joining the Dots?

Facebook, Instagram, Snap, Twitter, Twitch, TikTok, LinkedIn, OctoMembers and lots more software apps are all considered social media platforms. Of the eight listed above, it’s fairly easy to separate the first six and call them personal social media platforms and the last two professional, although don’t get me wrong, many businesses earn a great deal of their revenues and profits by offering their goods and services on the “personal” social media side of things. I use Twitter and see it as a crossover site – I follow LOTS of investment professionals, but I also follow lots of things associated to Manchester City (“the best team in the land and all the world”) and F1 and many things skiing / snowboard related too. I tweet on both sides of the fence – I tweet on industry topics, but I also got into an online debate last night with someone about the latest James Bond Movie (my opinion, it’s not the best one, but then again I’ve never been a big Daniel Craig as Bond fan, so I’m probably starting from a negatively biased starting point, a bit like the journalist Miguel Delaney when it comes to all things Manchester City related…).

Anyway, I’m quite happy to admit I’ve never downloaded TikTok, Twitch and Snap and I’ve had a dormant Facebook and Instagram account for several years. As highlighted above I am a keen user of Twitter, but I am also active on LinkedIn and OctoMembers and it has occurred to me for the last few years that the lines are blurring between personal and professional social media sites.  I know it’s very hard to draw a hard line between “work” and “not work”, professional views and personal views for example (and I’m fairly sure this can and has caused compliance headaches).

When you spend hours every day at work, it can feel like your colleagues can become part of your family, and I can personally attest to meeting my wonderful (and far too good for me) wife due to the fact we worked in the same group of companies many many years ago.

As we all know, social media can reach a very large number of people and I’ve been amazed at the power of the network effects that social media has brought. The old “hashtag” is an incredible thing. Of course, social media can be a force for evil, but it has also been wonderful at raising awareness. The #MeToo movement for instance is such an example where bad things that have happened at work have been brought into the personal, public eye, but closer to home and in our profession in particular, Dame Helena Morrissey and Bev Shah has been doing great things to raise awareness relating to gender inequality; Justin Onuekwusi with race issues and countless others relating to the environment, LGBTQ+ and so on from both a personal and professional capacity, proving once again that our work lives and personal lives intermingle. Just last week a good friend and old colleague posted on the “professional” LinkedIn site about IVF and the problems she and her husband faced before her fabulous triplets came along.  A few years ago, I’m fairly sure she wouldn’t have posted the inspirational words she did, and I’m almost 100% certain that if she did post them, it wouldn’t have been on LinkedIn.

Increasingly I’m seeing so many professional posts relating to mental health on the social media platforms too suggesting they are a great forum for individuals to share what they are going through. As we all know, mental health affects both our personal and professional lives and social media is a great outlet to let the world know that this is serious and affects a large number of people. In many cases I find these posts uplifting. Mental health is not anything that should be taken lightly and in a corporate culture, E, S and G factors need to be taken into consideration and this got me thinking about corporate hospitality.

In the days before the regulator and compliance departments massively clamped down and put in place policies that meant we as clients had to refuse the acceptance of an invite to the odd day of golf, or the attendance at a sporting event, or a concert, or even in the case of some instances I’ve heard – a cup of coffee – for fear of being “induced”, I wonder if the other side of the coin was considered?  The fact that we work in a high-pressure profession where getting away from the office for a couple of hours *might* actually be good for your mental health – nothing about the business ideas / opportunities / insights that could come from your time whilst in such an environment where you (i.e. the powers that be believe) are being brain washed and being seduced through the inducement.  Assuming the average person took 5-10 invites per year which equates to 5-10 days per year (many of which were out of office hours anyway at weekends for example) and these were all approved by our bosses anyway, that’s an acceptance that 5-10 days of a working year that is now being worked (being as corporate hospitality is now off the cards).

By default, companies are now getting 5-10 days more work out of the individual; because I can pretty much guarantee that those who used to partake in the old corporate hospitality day don’t now get an extra 5-10 days holiday per year.

With mental awareness levels rising and the odd corporate hospitality invite no longer being allowed or being able to be used as stress relief (I honestly do like trying to hit a golf ball on a misty morning in May or October for instance – feeling the fresh crisp air around me, having good conversations along the way can certainly create a different atmosphere than being in the office for instance).

We find ourselves in a situation where we are working more and arguably becoming more insular at the same time. 

We’ve not been allowed corporate hospitality for years and it has taken me this long for the penny to drop and to join the dots about the other benefits of events such as this. It’s only when things change do you realise the secondary and tertiary benefits. We work in financial services, and yet it seems the focus is all on the word financial, and not in the word services, and surely having a happy, healthy workforce is quite important in delivering the service to the client. I wonder how things will progress in the future with an increasing number of people suffering from the stresses associated with this high-pressure environment and potentially leaving the profession?

I have built long-term, lasting professional relationships due to corporate hospitality; I wonder what will happen for future generations of our profession and their mental wellbeing being as this “escape” is not allowed, and this option is not granted to them. I know things will not return to the “good old days” when it comes to hospitality but there were a lot of benefits gained from them – not all financial.

 

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