In the fast-paced and demanding world of the agency industry, where creativity meets tight deadlines and client expectations, professionals often find themselves walking a tightrope between passion and exhaustion. The relentless pursuit of excellence in a high-pressure environment can lead to a prevalent and concerning issue: burnout. As agencies strive to deliver top-notch results, the well-being of their most valuable asset—their workforce—can sometimes take a back seat. Let's look at the critical need to address burnout and ways you can promote a healthy work-life balance for you and your employees.
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is mental and physical exhaustion brought on by long-term stress. Signs include, but are not limited to, fatigue, an inability to switch off, and anxiety or depression. When we don't address our burnout, these signs tend to feed into each other, increasing our frustration and fatigue and risking permanent burnout.
How to Prevent Burnout in Your Agency
You can't make yourself or your agency burnout-proof. In fact, factors outside of work can contribute to burnout. For example, if you already manage depression or anxiety, burnout can become a problem for you even when you aren't under extreme pressure. That's why it's important to take steps to prevent burnout, no matter your company culture.
Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Make sure that you and your employees have time to devote to their personal lives. This includes,
Providing adequate time off and sick time
Not pressuring employees (or yourself) into working overtime
Offering flexible work arrangements for long commutes
Having quiet break areas away from workspaces
Prioritize Mental Health
Mental health is important. Make mental health an open conversation and ensure that your health plans include good mental health services. You should also take steps to help you and your employees set effective boundaries around work (which will help both their work-life balance and mental health). A good example is to include a rule that employees should not check work email or phones after hours.
Set Boundaries with Clients
"I always get into the office at 8:45 am so that I can get ready for the day, but I never answer the phone before 9:00 because that's when the office opens," the assistant of one of my clients explained to me once. That wisdom has always stuck with me because it is a small, simple, and easy-to-enforce boundary to set between her and her clients. It is also an important boundary that helps teach her clients and her boss that she isn't available outside of business hours.
Setting boundaries isn't easy, but it is important. It's easy for us to give a little and find work slowly creeping into our personal lives. It only takes giving your cell phone number to one client to turn your weekend upside down. Make clear to yourself, your clients, and your employees that setting boundaries is important for them, you, and the agency as a whole.
Implement Time Management Tools
One factor of burnout is a sense of being overwhelmed by work and tasks. This is where so many companies, especially when they're small and growing, fail themselves and their employees. Time management tools are one of the most effective ways to manage tasks and reduce burnout, and many of them are free for small and growing teams. Good management software will allow you to,
Categorize tasks into groupings
Manage the people who handle a single task
While burnout can happen to anyone in any workplace, the fast-paced and high-pressure nature of marketing agencies makes us and our teams prone to it. It's important to take a step back and implement simple steps to help prevent burnout when you can. These steps can also help you manage and mitigate burnout when it happens. Importantly, demonstrate and foster understanding and compassion in your team. While our field is competitive, teammates don't have to be in competition with each other. Teamwork, understanding, and a willingness to seek and offer help are some of the best tools we have to combat burnout in any office.