Johanna Joutsen works at dentsu, and has recently moved on to lead the company’s experiential marketing business. Johanna has a diverse background in marketing both as a customer and on the agency side.
“I started at dentsu just when the pandemic hit, so for most of my career here, I have been working remotely. All changes to the teams have also taken place during this time, and remote management has really increased the stakes on the challenge. Managing people’s problems, challenges and feelings on Teams or on the phone is much more challenging than meeting them in real life – it takes a lot of energy out of you, too,” Johanna explains how the COVID-19 era has affected both the working community and her own work.
Take care of your body and mind
Johanna felt that amidst all the changes taking place, she was at times even close to a burnout, since the whole period of organisational change was extremely challenging. Her team grew significantly, while she was still stuck with her old customer management responsibilities. For a time, she was almost doing double duty, and the transition to her new role took longer than originally planned. At the same time, there were many new people in the team, who brought their difficult feelings about the organisational change with them.
Johanna spent a lot of her time and resources on being there for her team members, listening to them and helping them. “I was starting to feel quite exhausted and stressed about how I would be able to solve all the challenges with resourcing and get the whole process running smoothly. I think I needed a moment to focus only on myself and to be listened to in turn.”
Johanna started out with Auntie’s Stressed Out package, which was then adjusted to her needs. The contents of the package were flexible, and they were expanded in accordance with themes raised during the discussions as time went on.
“Auntie’s mental health professional did not narrow things down to my stress. Instead, they really knew how to help me talk about the things that were relevant to me at different times.”
Johanna Joutsen, dentsu
Searching for a balance
In addition to stress from work, Johanna was struggling with some things in her private life. These included, among other things, a very difficult breakup a few years prior that she wanted to discuss with Auntie’s mental health professional. “Progressing past certain things was a very current topic for me at the time, but during our discussions, we drilled down more on where my own personal balance was at the moment. The exercises included in the package made it clear that my balance was heavily tilted towards work, which caused strain. My Auntie professional made me really realise that I do in fact need more in my life to counterbalance it. When you really know and understand that, you are also able to take corrective action in order to find your own balance.”
Johanna says that COVID-19 has most definitely affected each and every one of us. When reflecting upon the situation, she personally sees a lot of good, too, since in a way, the pandemic forced her to complete the grieving process related to her previous relationship. On the other hand, she feels that all the changes taking place around her made her really look within herself and to define what kind of a person she really wants to be, what kind of a life she wants to live, and also be present at home. For Johanna, the pandemic has been in many ways a beautiful, albeit difficult, journey.
Surprising and insightful exercises
“The exercises included in the Auntie service package surprised me. I had not done anything like that before,” Johanna says. “I found them really insightful. Even during our conversations, I noticed that the professional was strongly guiding me, and the sessions always had a clear beginning and end. My progress on the issue at hand was constantly monitored. I did not have to worry about dwelling on deep thoughts for a longer period of time, but instead knew that I am here for a month now, I was able to move forward, and it is good that way.”
Johanna finds that the best thing about Auntie is that the service offers low-threshold help and support that helped her to rationalise and think things through on a very concrete level, to hone the tools she already had, and to add a few more. This did not require intense, long-term help. Instead, Johanna was offered low-threshold assistance that helped her move forward.
An Auntie professional holds up an objective mirror for self-reflection
Johanna finds that it is good that there is no need to hide, stress about or be afraid of making use of the Auntie services that dentsu offers its employees. She says Auntie’s services are solution-oriented and have no stigma associated with them. “It is very common that people find themselves in need of psychological support, and it is great that this is made more visible and integrated into corporate culture. I personally find that everyone would benefit from talking to someone at some point in their lives, or even at regular intervals, so that you can look in the mirror and see and hear yourself correctly. It takes courage to pick up the mirror, and it is not always pleasant. This way, the mirror is safe: no one will judge you or determine your value based on what it reflects. I would like to take a look in that mirror regularly myself, since these subjects tend to pop up constantly, because our lives are constantly changing.”
The Auntie package only stretches across a short period of time, and changing your behaviour is a long process. It is easy to fall back to old behavioural patterns – and after that, you still have to remember the newly learned pattern. Johanna thinks that it would be good if Auntie’s service would include some kind of steps to support the follow-up process that would serve to remind you of what you discussed with your Auntie professional and how you have been doing afterwards. This would prevent the service package from being isolated to the period of time when the crisis is at its worst. After all, our goal is that people will learn to behave, think and internalise things differently. “The package included a ‘spider’s web exercise’ where I had to assess the balance between different areas in my life. I copied it in my diary and have periodically returned to it to find out how I really am doing. Have I remembered to spend enough time with my friends and family, or is the balance still skewed towards work? I am constantly having a conversation with myself about where that balance currently is.”
Responsibility is important to Johanna
Dentsu is building a new kind of experiential marketing business that focuses on people and creative solutions. This emphasises good people management and responsibility, which are both important themes to Johanna. In the event industry, people may often be placed under significant strain, because the schedules are ruthless and projects can be very complex. “I am glad that we now have services such as Auntie. I would like to find more tools that we can use to allow people to find a better balance at work. I think that it also allows employees to be more creative, motivated and efficient in their work. I wish that we would not only talk about environmental responsibility, but also human responsibility.”
Photos © Johanna Joutsen