As Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) chief executive officer of global media agency Mediacom, Josh Krichefski leads 4,400 employees across 37 offices, including the UK, Germany, Italy and Portugal. He is a vocal supporter of mental health in the workplace, both in his own organisation and beyond.
In May 2019, Krichefski joined a closed debate in the Houses of Parliament to discuss the impact of client behaviour on the mental health of agency personnel.
Krichefski says: “My passion for mental health stems from my own personal experience with insomnia, anxiety and stress, and I knew I had a responsibility to destigmatise what it meant to reach out for help.
“I wanted to show employees and other business leaders that, to drive genuine behaviour change, you need to build an environment where everyone feels comfortable talking about their wellbeing.”
At the beginning of every meeting, for example, Krichefski asks attendees how they are feeling. “It’s not a loaded question, and I don’t expect an answer that tells me how their workload is,” he says. “I genuinely want to know how they are feeling, and if someone asked me back I would answer honestly.”
Mediacom acknowledges that to address workplace mental health, change starts at the top. Two years ago, the organisation launched a training course to teach the importance of understanding feelings and building resilience for senior leaders.
This approach has helped to progress the wider wellbeing strategy within the organisation. This year will see the launch of a mandatory two-hour mental health training session for new starters, demonstrating that this is woven into fabric of business, not just an add-on.
“I hope to show everyone in our organisation that we all have mental health and, by understanding that, we can successfully destigmatise mental health issues,” says Krichefski.