FRIDAY 22 MAR 2019 12:35 PM

FRAMES OF MIND

Communicating with the internal audience about mental health and wellbeing can be a challenging prospect for an employer. But, with the assistance of DRPG and a storytelling approach, Jaguar Land Rover managed it with ease

One of the most challenging issues to address in the workplace is mental health and wellbeing. Though progress has been made into making the topic more approachable for employees and employers, it remains a difficult thing to communicate in a corporate setting.

One major employer, Jaguar Land Rover, had an existing support mechanism in place for its employees. But, that function was not well-publicised or used to the best of its ability. Much like a combustion engine, it needed a spark. A catalyst.

That’s where Matt, Kat and Trevor came in. Each person is a Jaguar Land Rover employee and each has had to cope with mental health challenges affecting their work and personal lives. They worked with communications consultancy DRPG to help communicate with the Jaguar Land Rover internal audience issues related to mental health in the workplace.

DRPG has, over the years, worked on a variety of work for Jaguar Land Rover, but the emotional approach taken in the #letshavetheconversation campaign may be a first. But, says DRPG’s director of video Dagmar Mackett, the topic of mental health prompted a storytelling approach and a personal touch. “There was a place where everybody could go to find information they needed, that was the website. But somehow that hadn’t really sunk in; it hadn’t resonated with the audience. At that point, we thought, ‘We need to tell stories.’”
DRPG worked with the occupational health team at Jaguar Land Rover to identify five potential employees who might share their stories on film. Two decided not to do so, leaving Matt, Kat and Trevor as the faces of the #letshavetheconversation campaign.

This was opportune, says Mackett, because of the demographics involved. Of the three, one was a senior manager, another a middle manager and a third a manufacturing professional. Further, the different stories they would tell focused on different types of mental health issues.

As DRPG prepared to film each of the three stories, the director and producer began to form relationships with Matt, Kat and Trevor. This was to gain insights into their stories, but also to build a rapport and put them at ease when facing the camera. The filming was then spread across six days, two apiece. The DRPG team first filmed each participant in to-camera interviews in which they told their stories.

These emotional accounts formed the narrative behind the campaign. “You hear their voices pretty much all of the time, but you don’t often see them talking to camera. That was quite deliberate. We wanted to show them going through their normal activities,” says Mackett. “Sometimes making symbolic links to what they were actually saying.”

This was realised through the second day of filming in which each person was filmed in their personal and work environments, depicting the activities or methods each used as a means of getting well. The style in these segments was also indicative of the subject matter. “We used the imagery to support what they were talking about. You see a lot of slow motion. That’s one of the things that people with mental health issues have been telling us. It’s almost like an out-of-body experience; you feel like things around you are happening in slow motion. We wanted to demonstrate that,” says Mackett.

The films also picked up on aspects of each person’s environment that could help demonstrate what they went through. In Trevor’s case, a former member of the Army, he had suffered from PTSD following a tour in the first Gulf War. His flat was sparsely decorated, barring a number of photographs of his Army unit. The camera picked up on those to emphasise aspects of his story.

The films and #letshavetheconversation campaign were launched on World Mental Health Day on the Jaguar Land Rover intranet as well as during manufacturing teams’ regular town hall meetings.

“We thought it was going to be a success, but we didn’t realise it would be quite so much of a success, neither did the client. It was within two weeks of launch that 79% of all Jaguar Land Rover employees had been on the website and watched the films,” Mackett says. The majority watched all three films in their entirety, and a number of people watched the films more than once.

It truly sparked the conversation about mental health and wellness within the company. It brought light to an important issue in the workplace, but also communicated the ways in which employees could seek support.
For Mackett, the most successful aspect of the project was the way in which it proved the value of understanding one’s audience. As a result, the campaign won the ‘Best content targeted to the CSR community’ and ‘Best content targeted to the internal audience,’ gold awards at the 2019 Corporate Content Awards. “The key thing for us was that it was the whole campaign that was rewarded; it wasn’t just the films, it wasn’t just the website,” says Mackett.

Jaguar Land Rover is committed to a long term focus on mental health and wellbeing, and the #letshavetheconversation collateral is still being put to good use. A Mental Health Awareness for Managers course features the videos and managers have easy access to e-learning and materials to help them look after the mental wellbeing of their teams.

The campaign may not have sparked a revolution, as such, but it has provided the catalyst Jaguar Land Rover needed to better communicate with its employees about the vital services on offer by the organisation.

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