Mental wellbeing and mental health are fast becoming a major talking point in the global workplace. According to Mind (a leading mental health charity), approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Statistics published by the Health and Safety Executive in 2017 found that the legal profession was the third most stressed, only behind ‘welfare professionals’ and 'nursing and midwifery'. Recent trends of focussing on improving people’s mental wellbeing aren’t exclusive to the intellectual property sector, it is part of the shifting tides and perception of how employees and employers handle the relationship of career and lifestyle and a push to talk about the taboo subject of mental health.
Over-worked and stressed employees are now high on the list of preventable challenges facing businesses. Happy and level-headed employees will continue to produce good work, and so it is within company’s interests to be on top of this. Tim Moss, a Chief Executive at the IPO, confirmed steps being taken to ensure the right support and solutions are being offered within the profession. I must also mention IP Inclusive, who continue to do valued work in making the IP sector more inclusive and supportive, and their work isn’t exclusive to mental wellbeing.
In this year’s annual Caselton Clark salary survey, we wanted to expand beyond the standard questions on salary. In tandem with mental wellbeing, recently people’s lifestyle habits are becoming more vital to them when choosing their next position in their careers. As a working professional it is only the natural the more comfortable you feel in a role, the better work you will ultimately produce. From our experiences recruiting in the IP sector across the UK and Europe we hope to provide some insights into how mental wellbeing can be aided.
Firstly, some advice to intellectual property professionals - you are good at your job, that is why you are in demand and can expect to be successful when getting a new role. Many can feel as though the benefits and lifestyle of a role are a taboo subject, something to avoid speaking about during the interview process. With today’s importance being placed on wellbeing, you shouldn’t be discouraged to openly discuss aspects that you know will have a serious detrimental effect on you in your role.
In our experience we have found that expressing these issues or lifestyle needs with a client early on the interview process is a much more positive tactic than attempting to make last-minute changes. It is all about clarity, it’s to your benefit and the client’s if you address these topics earlier rather than later in the interview process. For an example, when looking at the data of this year’s Salary & Lifestyle Survey, we found that IP professionals increasingly want options of flexible or home-working when looking for a new job. This isn’t exclusive to the IP sector either, below you can see a report from LinkedIn that takes into account global recruiting trends. More and more people look for flexible-working when considering a new job.
Source: LinkedIn Global Talent Trends 2018/19
If you find flexible-working important to your wellbeing when considering a job (perhaps you need to take care of your children, travel concerns etc.), do not be afraid to bring it into conversation with an employer. The data shows that those who refuse to offer some form of alternative working are going against the norm and will be the businesses potentially missing out on the best IP talent.
Isolation is also a major contribution to a person’s level of stress. If you are an IP professional who has influence over structural decisions, then this point concerns you. Team bonding can be crucial to a team or department working effectively together, and as external or flexible working becomes more prevalent those working externally may not feel as part of the team compared to those based in office. In this year’s salary survey, 49% of all respondents said a main benefit of their current position is company-funded social events. This can help those that aren’t exclusively based in the office to continue to bond with those they collaborate with.
We have found that when briefing candidates on benefits to a position, firms and businesses are increasingly mentioning their yearly funded social events and other activities that their employees can enjoy. Whether this be a Summer/Christmas party, monthly social events or employee-run clubs/societies. One example that stuck with me is an up-and-coming UK Intellectual Property firm that has monthly social events whereby the staff of the firm are randomly assigned into groups. So they would have instances of senior partners of the firm rubbing shoulders at a social activity with a junior administrator. A great way of creating a warm working environment and ensuring the hierarchy of a business doesn’t create isolation between levels of seniority. As an employer, if these are already the types of things you offer then make sure you are making this information clear to potential employees. We cannot stress how many times a candidate will mention that feeling welcome or involved in a business/team is important to them in a new role. People can easily feel lost and intimidated in a new job, particularly if they’re joining a large company.
In summary, these are small changes but can make such a large positive impression on an individual. Combined efforts from employers and employees should lead to more clarity in working relationships and a net benefit to both parties.
Should you need further advice or would like to discuss these points further, please feel free to get in touch.