Is our burnout-accepting culture leading us into another pandemic?
You may believe that we’ve been living through a ‘stress and tiredness pandemic’ for some years already. And looking at the latest statistics you’re probably right.
Forbes reported that 83.3% of marketing and communication professionals had experienced burnout in 2020. From the 7000 UK professionals that took part in the survey, this creative sector fared the worse.
Accenture Interactive revealed that in 2021, 70% of marketing executives admitted to seeing signs of exhaustion within their teams.
Does an antidote exist?
Finding a solution to remove stress and tiredness really is the holy grail of today’s marketers and media professionals.
You may now be having visions of Harrison Ford, John Cleese, Eric Idle and the Knights who say ‘Ni!’ in their pursuit to find the legendary chalice. While the Indiana Jones and Monty Python films are incomparable, they did share one commonality. The characters believed that the holy grail existed and were prepared to risk everything to find it.
Not surprising really when you think that it has the power to heal, grant eternal youth and gift the beholder with everlasting happiness.
Ok, so I may have over embellished a little here. Improving our stress and tiredness levels isn’t going to turn us into ridiculously happy and healthy Peter Pans overnight, but seriously, we need to stand up against burnout. It’s not sustainable, and it’s not ok.
Somehow, it seems as if burnout is expected in our industry and in the worst-case scenario, seen as a badge of honour.
Why are marketers especially susceptible to burnout?
Even before coronavirus disrupted our world, marketers were under immense pressure to increase ROI, hit tricky deadlines, win over customers with personalised and memorable experiences, and exceed client expectations.
The first lockdown in March 2020 quite literally stopped marketers in their tracks. Campaigns were halted mid-flow and reimagined. Brands were redefined. Messaging had to be adapted to remain relevant. Customers’ behaviour changed. Even the bringing together of creative minds shifted away from the usual face to face collaborations to working remotely from each other.
Fast forward to today’s cost-of-living crisis and yet again marketers are having to react and adapt.
It’s no surprise that burnout is prevalent. Marketers are facing change in every direction. They’re working longer hours, analysing more, experiencing tighter budget constraints, constantly on duty to predict future trends, and working out how to cut through the noise that just seems to be getting louder and louder.
And all this contributes to a flimsy work-life balance.
“Can’t you just switch off?”
Oh yeah, I never thought of that. Thanks, everything is tickety-boo now.
The mind of a marketer is a special type. It’s a machine that works at top speed, constantly observes life, looks for answers to quench its curiosity, embraces new challenges, and doesn’t fear risk.
Switching off is a hard task. But like most things in life that are good for us, it takes commitment to learn how.
My recent blog, Recharge your Creativity explores six proven methods that provide the ultimate rest routines for busy marketers.
Let’s address the power nap
Right now, people all across the world are napping. That’s really annoying isn’t it?
The Spanish are famous for the midday siesta. They make complete sense; I mean it must be nigh on impossible to be productive when it’s cracking the flags outside. But these naps aren’t exclusive to Spain, the Italians also take an extended lunch break called a Riposo, and the Chinese think nothing of whipping out a sleeping bag at work, or hiring a nap capsule, to grab forty winks.
But it’s the Japanese who have taken napping to a higher level. Not surprising really as their culture consists of two extremes: busyness and calm. The Japanese have mastered the art of Inemuri which means ‘being present while asleep’. These naps can happen anywhere, anytime and last for as long as it takes. Colleagues won’t bat an eyelid if you were to crouch under your desk, curl up and nod off for a couple of minutes. If you need to rest, you should rest – fact! What a refreshingly uncomplicated approach.
Normalising the need for rest
While we’re exploring other cultures, it’s encouraging to see other countries developing a healthy respect for life outside of work.
Germany recognised the danger of burnout in 2014 when their labour ministry banned managers from contacting their colleagues out of hours for non-emergency communications.
The Portuguese government passed a ‘right to rest’ law in 2021 – slap bang in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. And just like in Germany, it is now illegal to contact staff outside of their contracted hours.
So, I guess it’s up to us to be the change. To stand up for our health. And the time to do it is now.