Parliamentary Debate – Are your clients behaviours causing your staff to develop ill mental health?

Here is a video clip from the middle through the end of my Parliamentary debate speech about Mental Health in business:

“Client behaviour is a contributor to putting at risk the mental health, of agency personnel.”

The biggest injustice in our society is that people are seen as a commodity, whose time can be bought and sold with little or no value… but all we really have as human beings… is time…

It’s no wonder that people within businesses across the UK, irrespective of industry, feel used and frankly not well cared for by the companies they work with.

We are all human beings on the same spectrum… We are all one mind and millions of evolution’s and variations of it… Every one of us will know sadness in our lives, every one of us will experience fear, anger or hatred at some stage…

It’s important to remember that you only know the reality of your own story, we mustn’t presume to make assumptions about each other, we need to embrace our humanity and rid ourselves of our societal multi-dimensional anxiety…

When asked to be part of the debate this evening, if I’m candid, I didn’t really feel there was much to debate. There’s Spencer and I with our argument, based on a blend of real time industry analysis and personal experience; and on the other side of the coin there’s a big budget agency with limited concerns in terms of their evolving customer base, standing alongside what’s probably their biggest client… which seems a bit subjective to me.

Especially considering the case is also a motion on behalf of the 15,000+ smaller agencies across the UK today, 83% of whom, suggest they suffer primarily because of clients contributing to the mental ill health of the individuals within their business.

I’ve worked with hundreds of companies, from the SME’s to the FTSE 500. I’m the primary mental health commentator and speaker for the Institute of Directors, an organisation that’s over a century old… My story has been shared by over 1million people as a writer, speaker and through various media channels…

And I don’t impart this information to blow my own proverbial trumpet, I simply re-establish my credibility in the field because I’d like those in attendance to firstly note, that neither of our opposition are what we might call “the average staff”, who’d suffer the slings and arrows for the most part…

And secondly, because the concerns we are debating are not something that can be argued with a single subjective case study; just because your companies thrive off each other financially, does not a happy workplace make.

Fundamentally companies in our major cities, are primarily operating at only 60% efficiency, because of the mental well-being of their staff. I know 45% of onset mental health issues, stem from working structure, or working environment.

This takes us back to my concept of time.

During my time, I’ve been violently sworn at and verbally abused by drunk clients after hours, I’ve been forced to accept ridiculous payment terms that put my company at risk, for fear of not winning a given bid. I’ve been paid late, anywhere between 60 and 360 days, on at least 136 occasions, across a portfolio of 650 clients. I’ve spent time, money and energy delivering opportunities for customers, even celebrities, who’ve shafted me out of any money at point of closing the business and I’ve spent thousands of £’s as an SME, attempting to win big bids or tenders, that have been granted to others with no further contact from the people requesting my involvement after submission.

The a-fore mentioned issues, may seem a bit “I, I, I”, but I might remind everyone here tonight that I represent the every-man… and if we tackle this issue head on, then we can effectively rid the UK of nearly half the mental health issues we face through working life, or at very least, manage those issues.

Unfortunately, societally, we are not about the individuals for the most part.

We are weighed and measured based on gender, age, race, sexual preference, bank balance and beyond, to enable our processors in the UK to categorize our “needs”, but the reality is, that none of those elements mean that we have the formula we need.

Because, none of those elements define what it is to be truly human.

The debate here tonight is about a given issue, in a select industry; but, it’s also about how every business interacts with every other business, in an economy that’s still relatively volatile and will continue to be for some time to come.

14 years ago, people were happy to be spoon fed a product or service proposition, but the nature of the human being over time is that we desire more…

Companies need to begin to interact more readily, based on their core values. It’s not about the vanity, the bubbly on contract sign off, the fancy invitations to suave events, only really used to lobby a sale. It’s about what we are trying to achieve in terms of an overarching ethos of ethics.

To be frank, it’s a shame that we must debate the situation at all…

But until our business and governmental leaders, sit down and establish a protocol, a standard to meet; and to be chastised by if necessary, then we can never hope for any more than a wild west scenario.

It’s not about treating the consequences; it’s about treating the cause…

Every one of you here tonight has an internal moral compass, whether you choose to fully understand and utilise that compass is down to you as an individual, but, if a decision feels wrong, then more often than not it is.

Our UK business is burdened primarily by pride.

Do we turnover enough money?

Are our client’s well-known brands?

Do I need more staff?

Who’s right in the state of conflict, the client or me?

But there’s a different way to do things. A way of honour and intention.

We simply must sit up and take note again, of the compass within.

Who cares who’s right or wrong, is it worth focusing on that in your mind while your wife just wants a family dinner together?

What does it matter about the next bid, if you miss your children’s first steps?

Who cares if your client is well known, if their ethos does not match your own?

What’s the point in more staff, if your foundation if flawed?

My father passed away while I was sweating anxiety for someone else’s private wealth to accumulate.

My opposition are both highly credible as individuals. That’s not open to debate.

But they are still individuals… I can guarantee you that neither could claim that they hadn’t experienced stress or anxiety at some point during there lives, for whatever the reason.

And even more steadfastly, I can state that every organisation who has ever told me their company doesn’t suffer because of the mental ill health of their workforce, has, on deeper analysis, been found wanting… 25% of our UK population suffers from some extremity of mental health disorder, but 100% of the population still suffer every day as they find their way through the extremities of life…

Now the opposition may also bring with them their statistics, or a couple of very well branded case studies that serve their purpose this evening, but at the end of the day that’s simply politics, it would be somewhat awkward if they didn’t…

But as two individuals, in amongst 66million on our island, 50% of whom have a vocation, leaving at least 8.25million suffering an extremity of mental ill health (and that’s just the ones I can quantify without question), I think it’s safe to say that they don’t carry the weight of numbers necessary to win this debate in any context.

So, if you ask me again whether I think client behaviour is a contributor to putting at risk the mental health, of agency personnel, then again, I will tell you that I do and that there is no debate, it is a certainty.

But until every business, from the 1-man band to the blue chip, stands proud alongside their values and holds aloft that internal moral compass that’s guides us all as human beings, then we can never hope to change the state of play. We can never hope to truly connect; which in essence is the only real purpose of this thing we term life. There is no further argument…

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