Burnout and a Cog in the Wheel of the Advertising Industry


Verne Ho via Unsplash.

The pandemic has had a mental impact on employees in all sectors.

Whether it’s the shift to working from home that has blurred the lines between personal and professional, resulting in longer work hours, or employees managing increased workloads with little support, burnout professional is widespread and increasing.

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, head of marketing, creative and advertising industry for work management software group monday.com, and former director of sales for an advertising agency, about the 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 five to ten years ago, a lot of what was happening in terms of work culture and process was driven by mandates and the satisfaction of client needs.

“A lot of that involved being tied to an office – whether it’s account managers or designers or writers, you’re constantly at your desk. I think the model has changed to have more care and consideration for employees, employee health and being transparent with customers.

“I think the stats are still quite high in this category [of burnout] because, despite the best attempts, people are still attached to their desks.

Gavin Watson.

Watson said he already sees a future where the industry is not so tied to its offices, with health and wellness programs put in place by various companies to “detach”, but that the industry must be proactive.

“Part of it is a change in mindset; I think things will happen, but it has to be a gradual change, whether it’s from the top down within a organizationat the department level or even at the individual level.

“We work a lot with top-tier agency groups all the way down to smaller boutique agencies, as well as big brands that integrate marketing and production. If I look at all of these companies, the consideration of employees and the health of employees is becoming more and more important, because dealing with burnout is one thing, but recruiting new employees is another.

“Consideration for business leaders is now definitely centered around looking at employees as individuals and determining what they can do to improve the work environment, both to prevent burnout and to attract new talent.

Watson said he sees companies using technology platforms such as Monday.com not only to manage tasks and goals, but also to provide visibility into productivity levels to provide a snapshot of employee burnout levels.

“For example, if I was assigned 11 tasks this week, and my production over the past month completed those tasks 10% ahead of schedule, but this week I’m meeting them right on time or I went over an hour and then the mood shifts to the next level to say, ‘There may be something going on with Gavin, we need to check with him’.

“Change in management uses platforms not only to assess production, but also to assess changing trends at the employee level. If it’s a trend where something needs to be looked into, it gives managers the insight needed to jump on a potential problem.

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

He said advertising and marketing departments need to ensure teams are more involved and on what is happening to provide visibility to everyone working on a project.

“If I’m sitting in a silo performing part of a larger function, that’ll be fine for a while, but inevitably I’ll get to a point where I start to feel like a cog in the wheel without sense of direction.

“It’s also about giving employees exposure to customers when possible. These interactions help people understand that their work has meaning and that they are part of something bigger.”

Do you have anything to say about this? Share your opinions in the comments section below. Or if you have any news or a tip, email us at adnews@yaffa.com.au

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