We spoke to Laura Capell-Abra – founder of NoMoreIfsOrButs and Stress Matters, and Wellbeing campaigner – to find out a little more about her before she joins James Hitchen for their webinar on what you can do to improve your mental health at work, rest & play.
How did you get into the events industry?
My career started at Toyota head office and I was in their ‘new media’ team – we ran the website which makes it sound like it was back in the 80s but no, it wasn’t quite that long ago!
After running their website, I started working agency side. It was an integrated agency and so I got my first insight into events whilst still working on digital campaigns and I was hooked.
Favourite thing about events?
Seeing people’s faces! When I was working in digital, the reason I switched to events was the satisfaction of seeing the impact of your work in someone’s face rather than just in the data. I still love the data but nothing beats seeing someone enjoying something you’ve worked hard to create.
What’s on your desk?
This is the first time I’ve had a desk for a long time! I normally live out of my rucksack working from client’s offices and local coffee shops.
Now I have a candle, a picture of a unicorn that says dream big, a little carebear (that I have NO idea where it came from!) and a stack of industry magazines. I’m a big water drinker so there is always a glass of water and I’m a fan of art so I have a mini print art gallery on the wall to inspire my creativity.
People that say they are going to do something and don’t do it! There’s a lot of people that are great at being enthusiastic in the moment but I’m a believer in action.
Accountability is one of our 3 pillars at Stress Matters and that was really key for me, people being accountable for the impact they are having or not having.
What is your crowning moment?
When I was an organiser, it was when my team created 300m worth of moveable screen and content set to a live orchestra for the Dubai World Cup opening ceremony, it was an epically hard environment to work in and the team were incredible.
With my Stress Matters hat on though, I’d say when we finalised the 2019 survey results and found that 45% of respondents had seen that their workplaces had made attempts to improve workplace wellbeing. That was huge for us.
Workplace wellbeing and mental health are finally being talked about and it feels great to be part of that conversation.
And a very recent crowning moment is when I managed to complete a sudoku on my own!
How important is wellbeing in the events industry?
Historically it hasn’t been seen as important but that’s changed now. It’s started with more focus on our visitors’ wellbeing and we’re now starting to see businesses making changes around the wellbeing of their teams.
I may be biased but I would say it should be the most important thing for our visitors and our teams.
What do you do to encourage conversation around wellbeing in the workplace?
We try to show people how easy it is to start a conversation by simply asking ‘how are you doing?’ and waiting for an actual reply. If you show someone that you genuinely want to hear the answer and listen non-judgementally, they will tell you how they’re really doing.
How is this received by employees?
Generally really well but it depends on the culture in the organisation. Sometimes employees can be worried that if they’re honest about how they’re feeling or coping it will be used against them.
That’s why businesses need to change the culture in a sustainable way, educating the team as to why they’re approaching it differently now.
What do you do to support the people around you?
I check in with them regularly to see how they’re doing and I listen when they want to talk and give them space when they don’t.
Best piece of advice?
Be honest with yourself and then with those around you.
How do you make your staff feel valued?
I try to always make sure that I ask their opinions and empower them to come up with solutions rather than tell them how I would do it.
I try to listen to find out what their drivers are and try to provide as much motivation through those routes as possible.
Do you think there is a link between wellbeing and performance?
Absolutely, and there is data to back it up!
How are you keeping occupied during the lockdown?
At Stress Matters, we’ve been really busy helping people through our Support Line, our Buddies Matter programme, lots of webinars and lots of newsletters, so there’s not been much time to relax yet!
When I’m not working, we’ve been doing all those house jobs that pile up for months/years and have got into jigsaws too! I like to relax by taking my little sausage dog Bonnie for a walk, lighting a candle and huddle up under a blanket, or cooking.
If you’d like to hear more about mental health and wellbeing in the events industry, join Laura and her co-presenter James Hitchen on Wednesday 29 April at 3pm UK time for a webinar on what you can do to improve your mental health at work, rest & play.
Register to attend here.