Burnout and a cog in the wheel of the advertising industry


Verne Ho via Unsplash.

The pandemic has taken a mental toll on employees across every industry.

Whether it was the shift to working from home that blurred the lines between the personal and the professional, resulting in longer hours being worked, or employees handling increased workloads with little support, burnout is rife and on the rise.

Surveys conducted over the past few years in various countries around the world have highlighted marketing professionals at the top of the list for burnout.

AdNews Spoke with Gavin Watson, the marketing, creative and advertising industry lead for work management software group monday.com, and a former advertising agency sales director, about how he sees the industry changing for the better, technology helping to combat burnout and what marketing and advertising teams need to do moving forward.

“From my own experience working in large advertising agencies, if I look back around five to ten years ago, a lot of what was happening in terms of workplace culture and processes were driven by retainers and meeting client needs.

“A lot of that involved being tied to a desk – whether it’s the account managers, the designers or the copywriters, you’re at your desk constantly. I think the model has changed to have more concern and consideration around employees, employee health and being transparent with the clients.

“I believe statistics are still quite high in this category [of burnout] Because, despite best attempts, people are still tied to their desks.”

Gavin Watson.

Watson said he already sees a future where the industry isn’t so tied to their desks, with health and wellness programs being put in place by various companies to ‘detach’, but that the industry needs to be proactive.

“Part of it is a mindset change; I think things will happen, but it has to be a step change, whether top-down within an organisationat a department level or even at an individual level.

We’re doing a lot of work with tier-one agency groups down to smaller boutique agencies, along with large brands that are bringing marketing and production in house. If I look across all of those companies, the consideration of employees and employee health is becoming more paramount, because dealing with burnout is one thing, but recruiting new staff is another.

“The consideration from business leaders now is definitely centerd around looking at employees as individuals and figuring out what they can do to make the work environment better, both to avoid burnout and to bring new talent on board.”

Watson said he’s seeing companies using technology platforms like Monday.com to not only manage tasks and objectives, but also to give visibility into productivity levels to provide a snapshot of employee burnout levels.

“For example, if I had 11 tasks assigned to me this week, and if output over the last month had been those tasks 10% earlier than when I needed to, but this week I’m meeting them bang on the deadline or I’m one hour over, then the mindset shifts at a senior level to, ‘There might be something’s going on with Gavin, we need to check in with him’.

“The shift in management is utilizing platforms to not only gauge output, but also gauge changing trends at an employee level. If it’s trending in a direction where something needs to be looked at, this gives managers the insight required to jump on a potential issue.

“Used in the right way, tools like this can be really powerful.”

He said that advertising and marketing departments need to make sure that teams are more involved and across what’s happening to provide visibility to everyone working on a project.

“If I’m sitting in a silo performing one part of a bigger function, it’ll be okay for a while, but will inevitably get to a point where I start to feel like a cog in the wheel without a sense of direction.”

“It’s also about giving employees exposure to clients where possible. These interactions help people understand that their work is meaningful and that they’re part of something bigger.”

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at adnews@yaffa.com.au

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