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We conclude The Festival of Happiness with a reminder of why we put the program together in the first place, to support the mental health and wellbeing of the Independent Agency sector. We had an exceptional list of speakers that brought immense energy, good-heartedness and a profound drive to get everyone on their feet.

Kicking things off was Laughing Yoga with Melanie Bloch, her energetic but captivating session surrounding the power of laughter and reinforcement of positive speech, expression and personable actions which left a profound impact on our attendees, setting the theme very early on while helping to limber everyone up for the sessions ahead. 

After our attendees were more than warmed up for the remainder of the day. The Wellbeing Tracker Results were next on the agenda. Hosted by Isobel Hunt of Opinium with a panel including Becca Rawlings, Nuz Chagan, Sharon Baker and Tony Barton, the research included several key points of data that all agency leaders ought to take action on:

  • Small improvements in mental wellbeing are beginning to show. Better wellbeing scores, a small drop in poor mental health, and lower levels of stress. 
  • However, still seeing the same barriers to workers not taking time off to protect their mental health, mostly because of workloads. Employers must continue to put in processes and procedures which reduce the burden.
  • There has been a decrease in those feeling supported or feeling able to be open about their mental health showing signs the sector has more to do to improve the sense of effective support and transparency.
  • Organisations that can monitor more closely and offer openness and flexibility show some ways of how employees will feel better supported in the workplace.

While still deeply rooted in the thinking of employee wellbeing, Magnus Wood from The Kindness Corporation was next in line to talk about “Kindness Makes Work Suck Less”. Magnus touched upon his previous professional experience with partaking in unfulfilling work culture, bad experiences with colleagues and the dark rabbit hole which he went down personally by being exposed to a negative workplace environment on a day-to-day basis. Magnus touched upon how he brought himself out of that situation and regained his own happiness, and gave several tips to agency leaders on how to make their staff’s work… suck less.

After a short break, Will George brought to the stage his wisdom on “Wellbeing, Resilience and Performance” to help build a “Mindful Life and Mindful Work”. Some key outcomes were your mental health and happiness are profoundly shaped by what you do with your attention; how much of your life do you spend in the present moment? Is your mind full or are you being mindful? George backed these questions up with mindfulness exercises and data points to suggest that pausing, taking time for yourself and then refocusing help tremendously with getting your priorities back on track.

Before our lunch break, we had a fantastic session covering Financial Wellbeing with Talia Loderick with the key theme “From Panic to Preparation”. With recent headlines surrounding the cost of living crisis, it was key that Talia came on board to talk about what can be a taboo subject for some… money. Some key takeaways from Talia’s session were:

  • 48% of British adults say their mental health has been negatively affected by the rising cost of living
  • Money worries cause 1 in 4 UK employees to lose sleep and 8 in 10 take these worries into the workplace, affecting their performance.
  • Financial wellbeing is a key driver of workplace wellbeing but remains the most neglected area of health and wellbeing activity in the workplace.

With these facts in mind, Talia refocused the audience with the final comment “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”

To see what the first half of The Festival of Happiness looked like – please click here.

As we returned from lunch, Ella Berthoud from The School of Life re-energised the crowd with her session around Bibliotherapy and how reading can positively impact one’s mental health. It wasn’t so much the reading itself that was the key takeaway, but rather Ella’s methodology of using reading as a substitute for prescriptions. Connecting with a sad book when you feel down for example, or reading non-fiction to relieve stress by entering another world for a moment. We can’t forget Ella’s incredible example of staying focussed while reading, by hula-hooping! 

Author/Podcaster Bruce Daisley was next on the agenda with his session surrounding “Finding Joy in Hybrid Work”. Bruce touched upon several key indicators for how hybrid working correlates with increased levels of employee satisfaction. There was a call to agency leaders that do run a hybrid/remote setup to ensure that interaction between employees is managed and encouraged since co-located workers interact 8x more than remote workers. 

Keeping happiness front of mind, Uzma Afridi from NABS was next in line to explore “10 Keys to Happiness – The Great Dream”. Uzma identified that happiness is not a one-way street. Constantly managing stress factors and building upon our own understanding of how our emotions drive energy for action, and ultimately how our motivation is impacted. 

Our final panel session of the day was conducted by Alexa Stewart, with panellists Isy Odlin, Cameron Swan and Ruth Kieran around the point “Happy Agencies Are Successful Agencies”. The panel session brought up several key points including junior staff effectively managing upwards, being inclusive to each individual’s personal needs outside of work and how best to manage the power struggle between employees and senior leadership.

Our final session of the day was with Matthrew Phelan & Paige Haines from The Happiness Index, titled “The Freedom to be Happy in the Workplace” where they recommended agencies measure happiness as it is essential to building both Cultural and Business success. Making sure agency leaders understand the different types of trigger factors that go into employees’ happiness. The practice of reconnecting employee engagement and happiness was crucial in building the foundations of happy agency people.

To see what the second half of The Festival of Happiness looked like – please click here.

Louise Scodie, Senior PR and communications manager at NABS commented:

“NABS were delighted to speak at yesterday’s event in front of such a receptive audience and so grateful to be a beneficiary of the event. We are here to support you and your teams with our Advice Line, coaching, Masterclasses, therapy referral service and more. We’re also interested in hearing from people who’d like to partner with us for fundraising activities; NABS can only exist with your generosity. To discuss donations or other partnerships activities please email partnerships@nabs.org.uk and to find out more about our free services visit www.nabs.org.uk

We want to thank for coming to this years #FOH2022 and an extended thanks to all our speakers for coming out and helping us to champion the mental health and wellbeing of our agency sector. Thank you to our sponsor Google. The Festival of Happiness is also proud to be supporting NABS, YoungMinds & Beam

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