OPINION3 November 2021

Keeping mental health in mind

Opinion Wellbeing

The market research industry is struggling to recruit Gen Z talent after lockdown. So what can agencies do to attract the best new recruits? Paul Laver has a few ideas.

Person suffering from mental health issues

There are two strands to a solution for the industry in terms of identifying and recruiting new talent. The first is a serious focus on caring for the mental health and work life balance of our teams and the second is ensuring we communicate the important purpose behind the work we do.

In Deloitte’s recent global survey into mental wellbeing, nearly half ( 46%) of Gen Zs shared that they feel stressed or anxious most or all of the time. The survey also found only one in five people said that their employer was doing well at supporting their mental health. This is simply heart-breaking to learn and a very real human tragedy affecting young people today.

How has the industry changed?

Even before Covid-19, mental health and wellness were moving higher up the agenda in businesses across all sectors.

Historically, the market research industry had very unsociable hours but nowadays there is a better understanding that long hours, without the time to fully recharge, do not work – for client outcomes or team wellbeing and employee retention.

Then came Zoom culture. The world has changed for market research, offering us the chance to connect with people face to face around the world at any time. Even so, talking to people in depth about anything is very hard to achieve in normal office hours, which places demands on your free time. How do we as an industry offset this?

Time for a break

Four-day weeks are an obvious and brave answer for the industry. They have the potential to ensure teams are properly rested, more efficient and produce better results. It will give people more free time to have fun outside of work, that they are more energised, delivering better results for clients and give them a better work life balance. They will also be happier and much more likely to look at our industry with renewed interest.

Introducing a four-day week comes with its challenges in terms of meeting client demands so it’s important to collaborate together as a team to ensure people can properly relax on their extra day off. It’s also a learning process for any agency in terms of how the four-day week will work in practice, however perfecting this set-up is worth it for the benefits.

Other measures to safeguard mental health could include hiring a life coach or providing a budget for inspiration days, where employees can try a new hobby or activity in work time and then report back to the team so they can learn together. However, it’s important to consult with your team to find out what they would value the most so that you deliver support which comes from the ground up.

Has the industry lost sight of its purpose?

The purpose of research is not to help brands find out how they can convince consumers to buy more products. People do not exist to consume. Brands exist to make people’s lives better and they need to discover how they can fit into their lives.

The meaning behind our work is to provide research and insights which help brands to understand people and provide connections, which will ultimately make their audiences happier. It’s important that this is communicated as after all, Gen Z are much more likely to work for a company which has a positive impact on the world around them, according to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Millennial and Gen Z Survey.

Perfect mix

Milton Friedman’s essay, “The Social Responsibility of Business Is To Increase Its Profits,” was published in the New York Times Magazine more than 50 years ago and it remains as polarizing today as it was then. His provocative theory that the only goal of business is to increase profits, overlooks the people who achieve these fantastic results – employees.

All companies need to look after their employees, their clients, their shareholders and the planet. As business owners we have a responsibility to the people we employ to provide them with an environment where they can do their best work, thrive, and ultimately be happy. Taking care of your employees is the right thing to do – and it is also good business.

By championing wellness and life balance we can show this generation that our industry takes their wellbeing seriously. 

Gen Z in particular want to work for a company where they share the values of the company they work for, according to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Millennial and Gen Z Survey. If you can empower your employees to live the values that matter most to them through your company, whether that’s achievement, hedonism, security, equality or something else entirely, you’ll stand the best chance of attracting talented people – and keeping them.

Paul Laver is the co-founder of insight agency One Minute to Midnight

1 Comment

3 years ago | 1 like

Excellent thought piece Paul. Certainly resonates with the conversations I am having with people from across the industry at the moment. Thank you!

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