Many marketing agencies experience high rates of burnout and employee turnover. This unwanted turnover:

  • brain drains the agency of expertise
  • reduces client trust since their point of contact keeps changing
  • compounds stress for other employees as they have to cover for those who leave AND they have to interview/hire new people on

It’s important for businesses to be proactive in tackling reducing burnout before it becomes an issue. We have reached out to several agencies to get their tips on how to balance life and work in an agency.

This first tip may be the most important. Training everyone in an organization to be aware of the signs of burnout in themselves and their peers is a proactive way to stop burnout before it happens and improve overall mental health for all staff.

Be Aware of Burnout and Take it Seriously

Burnout is a well-known mental health issue and like any other health issue knowledge and preventative measures are key – take it seriously, seek out and stick to treatment.

  1. Understand what burnout really is and take it seriously. It is a well-known mental health issue and like any other health issue knowledge and preventative measures are key (sleep, diet, mindfulness, and exercise).
  2. Continually gauge your emotional state and exhaustion level through mindfulness practices. Ask yourself, are you smelling gasoline? Are you on fire? Are you already burnt? If so, how badly?
  3. If you’re already burnout or worse, your main priority is admitting to yourself and to those who support you that you have a health issue. Again, treat it like you would any other health issue – take it seriously, seek out and stick to treatment, and for the time being, avoid “open flames”.
  4. If you’re just starting to smell gasoline or notice the heat, the priority is to maintain that awareness. Maybe you’re not really feeling or acting like your usual self? That awareness will help prevent burnout from creeping in further. You’ll also start to form ideas about the boundaries you should set. Make a list of options and support mechanisms to maintain these boundaries. 

Mike Ausford, Technical Director, Top Draw

Pace work appropriately

Digital marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. For agencies working with clients and trying to keep up with all the moving parts of executing a smart strategy, it takes time, expertise, and ongoing optimization. To avoid team burnout, it is all about balancing boundaries, deadlines, and excellent execution. For the Smart Girl team, we focus on having clear communication of timelines and expectations. This goes for client communication and internal team communication. We set regular internal team meetings to review client strategies, timelines, and deliverables. Then, we make sure any adjustments or changes are clearly communicated to the client. This keeps the client happy and team members accountable for communicating before burnout sets in.

Katie Childers, Founder & Lead Smart Girl. Smart Girl Digital

Make work more meaningful

No one gets into marketing to spend hours each month copying and pasting, yet that’s what many have to do. Some new employees get disillusioned by just how much grunt work is involved and how little creative and analytical work they get to perform. Automate weekly and monthly reporting work and build templates for common email and event promotion so that employees spend more time doing challenging creative work and less time copying and pasting.

As an example, simplify collecting payments. Many people are uncomfortable asking for money. It’s something you can train for, or you can automate it. ActiveDEMAND supports automatic recurring billing for clients. No hassle, no stress. Find other areas where work doesn’t match what makes people passionate: where there’s drudgery or boring repetition that sucks the life out of people.

Remind yourself of your purpose and what is meaningful to you. Write it down along with any short-term and long-term things to look forward to – things that give your life meaning. Lastly, remember to believe that your outlook and perspective are, in fact, yours to control, even if they feel like they aren’t.

Mike Ausford, Top Draw

Collaborate on clear career progressions

For many marketing agency employees, the combination of a high-stress environment AND no hope of career progression can burn them out. There are very few roles in an agency that should be “do this until you retire” kind of jobs: everyone should have a plan to improve and upgrade.

Ask for Help/Get Help

Sometimes asking for or seeking out professional help can be the hardest thing to do, but if you feel your state of mind could use professional support – seek it out! Top Draw recently did an interview with Consuelo Arriagada, a Registered Psychologist about social media burnout. There are, however, things we can do for ourselves to prevent burnout before it starts.

Clear boundaries between work and home

In the current times, where we’re all working from home, burnout feels intensified because there is no real ‘trigger’ to mark that separation in our minds (i.e work is done). I make it a point to leave the house, right after work. It may be to the grocery store, a quick walk, or just a short drive but it really works. –

Shradha Maira, Top Draw

  • Practice being more lenient with yourself. We are our own worst critics. We’ve been through a lot and we will get through this too.
  • Practice mindful techniques
    • When you feel stress or tension, take 3-5 minutes, lay on the floor, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing
    • The five things exercise is also great (all within your local vicinity)
      • 5 things you can see: Your hands, the sky, a plant on your colleague’s desk
      • 4 things you can physically feel: Your feet on the ground, a ball, your friend’s hand
      • 3 things you can hear: The wind blowing, children’s laughter, your breath
      • 2 things you can smell: Fresh-cut grass, coffee, soap
      • 1 thing you can taste: Mint, gum, the fresh air

Recovery

Recovering from burnout takes time and it’s well worth the effort required. Taking care of your mental health daily is so important to your overall health so don’t ignore the signs.