It’s Halloween! The day of ghosts and ghouls, apple-bobbing and trick or treating. It’s actually ‘New Year’s Eve’ from ancient Celtic times and a day when the worlds of the dead and the alive came together, a day when the Druids (the Celtic Priests) were better able to predict the future because of the presence of the dead.
The origins of Halloween are with the Celts of 2000 years ago who had November 1st as the start of their New Year and celebrated the festival of ‘Samhain’ on the 31st of October. The Druids would light sacred bonfires and offer sacrifices to their deities. People wore costumes to ward off the ghosts, told each other’s fortunes while the Druids prophesied what was to be of their crops the following summer.
It wasn’t until eight centuries after the invasion of the Romans that Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as the day to honour all saints (All Saints Day) and the evening before became All Hallows Eve (later Halloween). Other Roman festivals from late October such as Pomona, the Roman Goddess of fruit and trees, whose symbol was an apple, perhaps explain some of the current Halloween traditions such as apple-bobbing (granted, mainly in the US).
Given, therefore, that Samhain (apparently pronounced sow-in) includes a healthy dose of predictions, it seemed an appropriate time to revisit megatrends.
We did cover the impact of the five socio-economic megatrends on health and safety earlier this year, but Euromonitor International recently updated their megatrend analysis which is focused mainly on consumer markets. The eight megatrends they explore are:
- Experience more
- Shifting market frontiers
- Healthy living
- Shopping reinvented
- Middle class retreat
- Ethical living
- Connected consumer
On first reading, the link to health and safety wasn’t obvious. Until you recognise that we are the consumer as are all those we work with. Three of these megatrends then have a direct impact on health and safety:
- Connected consumer – which talks to our ‘need’ to be connected and the associated downsides. Digital detox anyone?
- Healthy living – our more holistic approach to wellness and the lifting of the taboo on mental health.
- Ethical living – our ethical and moral values are being incorporated into our brand choices and who we work for.
So, when did you last have a holiday? A proper one. Totally disconnected from work. No checking e-mail, no checking in. Nothing. Nada. I’ll go first, it was the summer of 1999. Over twenty years ago. I remember it fondly, very fondly. I’ve tried to replicate it but have never managed to and I’ve been by no means even close to indispensable in any role over that period.
With the annual cost of poor mental health to the UK economy said to be between £74bn and £99bn (2017 Stevenson/Farmer review), how do we as an industry help ourselves and our colleagues with wellness?
Here’s one idea – when people take annual leave, why don’t we shut down access to their e-mail while they’re away? As an employer, that sends a great message in that we take their wellness seriously and expect them to relax completely while on holiday. The benefit of improved mental health to our company and broader society would be significant. Good idea?
If you think not, and that some employees are totally indispensable to your business, then ask yourself how well run your business is to have so little contingency and what happens anyway if they get incapacitated by illness or an accident – or just leave. The reality is you do have contingency so explicitly or implicitly enforcing connection while on holiday is a business choice and will ultimately have you run foul of the mega trend ‘ethical living’. Younger generations are increasingly looking to work with businesses who have a purpose beyond profit and how employers treat their employees is a good reflection of that purpose.
If you’re onboard with this idea then take it a step further and mandate a two week annual holiday to ensure the full benefits of an extended break are seen.
The Euromonitor megatrend report is very short and readable and if you haven’t already clicked the link above then I encourage you to do so. One observation I had was how holistic the megatrends are. How they’re interconnected, how multi-faceted each individual megatrend is and, therefore, how we need be holistic in our approach to solutions.
We’ve been guilty of using the term ‘work-related stress’ but, of course, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. For example, if we were fitter and healthier, we’d be better able to deal with the stresses of work. If we had better job security and better job prospects then perhaps we could deal with those stresses better? How is our home life impacting our ability to cope with work-related stress? There are so many facets and, reading into the megatrends, those companies that emerge as leaders will not just be those who figure out how their brands can best serve consumers, but how they can best support their employees too.
Enjoy your trick or treating!