Wellbeing & Events: An Action Plan

Whether you’re organising or attending; events are stressful.

With little room for error or delays, there’s judgement if things go wrong on both sides of the fence. The list of variables is endless. Factors such as transport, onsite logistics, meetings, networking, technical issues, scheduling or getting a return on your time and company money invested; mean a whole load of both personal and professional pressure… And then there’s a global pandemic sweeping the globe to consider.

Many are going to feel some form of anxiety about spending a hectic day navigating unfamiliar surroundings with a bunch of strangers (sometimes in their thousands). Even without the current heightened fear of infection.

Alcohol is often prescribed to combat a lot of event angst during networking sessions, or sometimes even the night before a busy day. This of course affects sleep, immune systems, performance, memory and anxiety, which is counterproductive to being at the event in the first place.

Instead, why not remove many of the stressful elements. Focus on wellness sessions and a more relaxed event philosophy. For instance, provide delegates with a wellness pack outlining ways to reduce event anxiety. Local places of interest. Mediation or yoga sessions. Thoughtful homely items. An energising vitality kit?

We spoke with Leigh Cowlishaw, Managing Partner at Black Box Partnerships during an AccorHotels Wellness and Networking Event, where she discussed ways to overcome many of the roadblocks to your wellbeing at events.

1. Deadlines

Stressors:

  • Project plans
  • Event delivery
  • Curve balls

Suggestion:

We’re not saying banish deadlines, but stop checking emails after 6pm. Is a decision going to be made right in that moment? Even just seeing an email in the hours before bed is going to play on your mind and affect the precious few hours you have to take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid to push back when necessary. You can only do so much in a day.

2. Location

Stressors:

  • Arrival, travel time and return journey
  • Other commitments (family, pets etc)
  • Foreign environment – often within an industrial area

Suggestion:

To make people feel less homesick why not provide a little home away from home experience? If they’re staying overnight, you can do a room drop with some thoughtful homely items. Even if it’s a one day event, give them something to make the journey home easier. Sometimes it can be as simple as allowing people to leave early.

3. Timing

Stressors:

  • Night before travel
  • Early starts
  • Running late

Suggestion:

Does the event team really need that 4am start time? Do guests need the pressure of getting up hours earlier to beat rush hour and arrive on time? Start events and meetings after 10am where travel is quieter and 25% cheaper for attendees. It also reduces the costs for any overnight stays, not just for attendees but event organisers too.

4. Content

Stressors:

  • How it’s perceived
  • Feedback
  • Speaker delivery

Suggestion:

Avoid “death by powerpoint” by breaking up the content sessions into a variety of formats to keep people engaged. Festivalise your event with different zones, activations, and fireside chats that inspire. Utilise as many creative learning concepts as possible. Why not incorporate VR headsets for a fully immersive and personal content discovery experience

5. External Factors

Stressors:

  • Expectations (social anxiety)
  • Alcohol
  • Out of comfort zone (isolation, shyness networking)

Suggestion:

Combat isolation (particularly in those hotel rooms) with wellness activities instead of the more typical drink-related activities. Yoga or meditation sessions can be both calming and encourage people to socialise in a more comfortable way. Encourage them to get some fresh air, perhaps with group walks.

We’re seeing more and more brands gravitate towards wellbeing activations. Just recently, Nike and Asos introduced a wellness experience with meditation sessions and terrarium-building workshops, Amazon partnered with Larabar to host a yoga pop-up and we’ve we’re seeing a lot of interest in wellness concepts from our clients here at Clive:

Peaceful havens from the sensory assault of the exhibition floor, sensory journeys that are redefining the traditional conference concept and in-house wellness installations to equip employees with the tools they need to develop stronger mental resilience skills, allowing them to better tackle stressful situations long into the year ahead.

Did you know?

  • 1 in 3 eventprofs will suffer from mental health issues every year (EventWell).
  • 42% of eventprofs have left jobs due to stress (EventWell).
  • UK eventprofs rate their general wellbeing as a meagre 6/10 (EventWell).
  • In the UK stress accounts for 45% of lost work days, and over 1.3 million people have suffered from workplace stress (HSE).
  • Mental ill-health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing an average of £1,035 per employee per year (Time to Change).