It is Green Week this week at NTW. We are looking out for the planet, ourselves, our economy and our fellow conscious-beings. This of course doesn't mean that we usually treat these things with disrespect, however this week we are making more conscious choices in these areas with the view that many of them will stick with us and become long-term changes that benefit all of us.
So far one very simple thing that we have done is change all of our waste bins at our desks to paper recycling bins. Anything that can't be recycled along with paper needs to be disposed of in the bin in the kitchen. This is something that we will keep in place beyond this week, and is such an easy change for us to make. It also means we get up more often to walk to the bin in the kitchen, which moves our bodies and encourages conversation. Which leads me to my discussion of wellbeing in the workplace.
We work in the arts. We do this because we love it and we are passionate about the role of creativity in society. We don't work in this industry for the money or the working conditions. As arts professionals we often work long hours, for little or no money and are often afraid to take a break (the fear is that by saying ‘no’ to one project you may be out of work later on). This means two things: one - that we need to look after ourselves, and two - that we need to be encouraging flexible and holistic workplaces wherever we go. I have been fortunate to work for some extremely supportive workplaces throughout my career – most notably Regional Arts Victoria and National Theatre Wales.
As creative beings we are often more in tune with the ideal conditions for own personal productivity and creativity. Many of us would flounder if forced to work in structured environments with designated breaks and work hours and we are fortunate that many arts organisations are led by people of the same constitution. We are able to flourish and work in ways that suit us, and through that, the organisation best.
It makes me unhappy when acquaintances exclaim their ‘jealousy’ of my working conditions and explain that they too, would be more productive if allowed time to exercise their bodies before/during/after work, change their working hours with the seasons or work in ways that allowed more time with family. My response is always; ‘Why don’t you suggest it?’ as I simply cannot understand an organisation that would purposely curtail their employees’ productivity.
There have been many studies and formulas developed to assist organisations to assess the monetary cost of turnover and I believe that more organisations should employ this assessment. Keeping your employees happy and physically and mentally healthy has significant and powerful effects on organisational productivity and finances. There are wonderful organisations such as Regional Arts Victoria that do this through substantial well-being and professional development schemes and organisations such as Admiral who seem to thoroughly understand the difficulty of retaining call-centre employees and offer benefits far more holistic that monetary rewards.
So today, let’s remember to look after ourselves and our colleagues. We don’t simply co-exist: we are all here working towards the same big thing – the development, promotion and innovation of our vibrant arts ecology. We are all in this together.
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