Presidents Post | November

Well Well Well.

As we all know running a modern SignShop comes with its ups and downs, physically, financially and emotionally. Balancing these ups and downs into a manageable lifestyle, is in my opinion the most important part of staying successful.  Creating a healthy work environment not only involves work place safety and health conscious production systems but one of the most important and generally the most neglected health issue is in our minds….depression and stress.

In 2020 New Zealand lost 7.3 Million working days and $1.8 billion due to work absence, a large percentage of these loses were due to mental health issues. We simply can’t ignore Mental health in our workplaces and as employers we need to take more responsibility in the mental health of ourselves and our employees.

In my working life I still find the term STRESS to bring on a strong reaction from people, “I’m not stressed I just have too much to do”, as they slam down today’s tenth coffee and bark at the apprentice when he misses that bubble. It seems that to be stressed is seen as some kind of weakness…a shortfall in our personality, something to be ashamed or embarrassed by. I have found stress to be something that I have had to learn to deal with during my career and now is something I am very open about when talking to my peers. I am no health professional in anyway but I have found what works for me is creating a healthy balance between work, family and me.

We all have that mate that no matter what time of the day or night when you drive by his or her workshop the lights are on and production is in full swing. Why does it seem to be these guys who end up with health issues, relationship issues and after 20 years in their careers look back at their family life and have huge regrets….  I was that person but I was lucky enough to WAKE UP  before it affected me to badly. Now I ask myself, is it really going to make that much difference to get that job out today….is it really going to change that apprentice’s attitude to give him grief about his mistake and generally the answer is a resounding no.

I don’t work weekends…ever. If it’s a decision between finishing a job or going to my sons soccer final…the job waits and above all I don’t expect my employees to do anything I wouldn’t do. There will always be another client…. you only get one family.

These rules have worked for me. Everyone has different priorities and different ways of managing their STRESS. The most important thing, I believe, is to develop a mental health plan and system and implement it. If you don’t know how, get some help. Talk to others, find out their “destress” secrets share ideas on how to identify and deal with mental health issues in the workplace.

Mental health issues can be brought on by any number of reasons, from personal life problems, workplace bulling, cyber abuse, bias, and just plain old boredom. I think the key is to keep up the communication, get to know your employees and yourself so you can better identify potential problems before they become major issues. Take the time to listen and be attentive and reactive to feedback from your staff. We spend more time with work mates than we do our partners in a lot of cases.

A positive mental health environment brings huge benefits:

  1. Greater staff retention. Boredom and feeling stagnant in our careers strongly contribute to

resignations and unhappy employees. Offer change and promote training to create job


  1. Better productivity. An employee who feels happy, valued, and recognised as a person is

proven to be more productive and also a positive influence on others. Listen to our

employees, recognise their individually and promote diversity in the workplace.

  1. Intern, mentally healthy staff reduces employer stress, with research showing 56% of business
    owners stating staff management as their main cause of workplace stress.


Finding the balance between productivity, workplace mental health, financial success and work and personal life is a battle worth fighting and has bought me great personal satisfaction over the years and I’ve won some and lost some as we all do. As I get older I find the mantra of “work to live not live to work” something I wish I had grasped a lot earlier. Anyway back to the grindstone aye.