Festival Insights talks to Tom Critchley, managing director of Caboose & Co about how festival organisers can improve workplace wellbeing for production crew…

Staff welfare in the events industry needs some attention. A career as an event co-ordinator was cited as the fifth most stressful role, so why is it that event professionals continue to work ever-increasing hours?

I am sure you will agree that the live events sector heavily relies on the strength of relationships within teams to deliver success – long hours on the road, in each other’s pockets for the whole summer season and fast-paced, high-pressured environments working right up to the wire is bound to test even the strongest of compatible characters.

Add into the mix that many events crews are not permanent staff who’ve had the benefit of time to get to know team members and instead, many roles are filled by contractors or temps. This can run the risk of production crews experiencing retention issues or see a nose dive in the team morale of permanent staff when experiencing a ‘revolving door’ around them.

It was reported that one in three event professionals experienced a period of mental ill health in 2017, but what are the statistics telling us today? Insights from events-specific Stress Matters indicate that 71% believe their colleagues are suffering from stress, which is self-medicated by 46% of the events workforce by alcohol, cigarettes or drugs often as a result of working more than 61 hours a week.

Having spent more than 15 years’ in the world of sports and events, it is safe to say that I have seen, and experienced myself, a wealth of challenging situations and varying stress levels! It seems to me, now more than ever, is when as an entire industry we need some time for reflection to ensure that not only are we investing in our businesses, but also investing in ourselves.

Little changes in mindset can make the world of difference and moving forward, I feel it is paramount that event organisers increase the importance placed upon staff wellbeing and the infrastructure in place to support them on site. After all, don’t your prized people deserve a space to decompress at the end of a busy day spent representing your brand? I know mine do. It’s not enough to simply pay and thank them. It’s our responsibility as company leaders to ensure that our teams are fully nurtured.

Adhere to breaks.

It might sound like the easiest thing in the world but when you’re in the middle of brewing storm and it all seems to be taking a turn for the worse, a break will be the last thing on anyone’s mind. Ensure that your team take their allocated break and you can help avoid tiredness and burnout. They’ll look to you for reassurance but also to lead by example, so I like to let my team know what I understand that it can be exhausting having to perform at your best and be on your toes all day – breaks allow your staff to relax, recharge and refocus. I’d rather my team take a break and return being able to deliver event hospitality at the highest possible standards.

Strength in numbers.

Extra hands on-site can make the world of difference. When we are loading-in Caboose containers on-site wherever possible I try and ensure a spare pair of hands are available to help if need be. An extra person or two gives your team the agility to deal with the unexpected – adequate staffing means less stress on the team in its entirety.

Break out spaces

aren’t anything new, but the ability to have truly private spaces at a festival or event site is almost unheard of. Staff wellbeing should always be a priority – not only for the sake of the staff who make up your business but also to ensure productivity, to maintain profitability and to see continued growth of the wider event.

A home from home.

Events can take you all over the world, but it is the creature comforts than can be missed, particularly by crew who can be often be on site setting up months before the gates open to the attendees. Crew all work long hours and having a base on-site helps to maximise the time used to set-up, rather than requiring additional travel time to the nearest hotel which is often miles away when working in greenfield festival sites. Whether its providing them with accommodation or a breathing space, in my professional opinion acknowledging your staffs needs both inside and outside of working hours is the best thing you can do for your team.

In the fast-paced and unpredictable world of events, it is our responsibility to make sure teams are happy, productive and performing at their best. I understand the challenges that organisers face and through the bespoke luxury fit-out in our converted shipping containers, or ‘Cabooses’, have challenged what l feel should be the new industry standard when it comes to accommodation event staff on site.

Media Contact: Hannah Viney
Sycamore Communications