As World Mental Health Day (10 October) approaches, we should reflect on the things that can really make a difference to people’s wellbeing in the workplace. It’s easy to concentrate on practical measures like relaxation classes, gym membership, free fruit at lunchtime, etc, but sometimes there are more fundamental things to do with inclusivity (or lack of it) and the overall workplace culture, that need to be addressed before everyone can feel safe and happy.
We found this fabulous piece here by IP Inclusive partners Focal Point Training, first posted back in 2016 but no less relevant now. They’ve kindly agreed to let us republish it for the IP Inclusive community to share. It’s about the importance of inclusivity to wellbeing, and reminds us that the things that really make a difference may not be the ones that can be bought in, but rather, those that come from within.
In our 2019 survey on mental wellbeing in the patent and trade mark professions, more than 1 in 30 of our student respondents said they had suffered bullying (including inappropriate banter) or harassment, the levels being higher for other respondents. Discrimination had affected around 3% of all respondents. More than a tenth had experienced anxiety or isolation about, and/or felt the need to hide, aspects of themselves. And when we asked about the main causes of stress and anxiety, poor management and lack of support were often cited. So, we still have a way to go to make the IP professions truly inclusive, and that in turn means that there is more we can do to improve our community’s mental wellbeing.
There is also, of course, the wider issue of workload and working practices: again, no matter how much fruit is on offer, unless we tackle the culture of long hours and high billing targets, and the impact of formal deadlines and high client expectations, we will continue to face problems with a stressed, anxious and mentally unwell workforce. This too was clear from our survey, which you can read more about here.