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65 Percent of Advertising and PR Pros: I Suffer from Burnout

Advertising and public relations are exciting industries where its workforce can have an impact on the world’s biggest brands, influence culture, entertain glamorous lifestyles networking with celebrities of all kinds, and earn a decent pay at that.

The downside? The expectation for working long and irregular hours. This has become a standard in the industry. 

Why is “working them into the ground until they quit from exhaustion and burnout” the new staffing plan in creative departments? Is there a place where this isn’t the norm? Help. – Creative Director

Working long hours and a lack of work-life balance can lead to stress in the workplace. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) when high levels of stress are consistent and left unmanaged, individuals will start to feel exhaustion, negative feelings towards one’s job, and reduced professional efficiency. These are symptoms of burnout. As of May 2019, WHO now categorizes burnout as a medical diagnosis. 

I’ve survived & left an agency that continuously had me work 10-20 hrs overtime for the last 5 years. The burnout is real. On my last day, a manager tried to schedule me for a kickoff call w/ a new client. – Senior Account Executive

We wanted to see where the agency lifestyle stands when comparing burnout among Fishbowl’s industries, so we asked our advertising and public relations professionals, as well as our communities of accountants, consultants, and teachers about burnout. The professionals were given the statement: “I am currently suffering from job burnout.” and could answer by choosing True or False

Within three days, the survey received 11,286 responses. Overall, 58 percent of professionals said that they are currently suffering from job burnout. Across all of Fishbowl’s industries, most respondents say they are currently experiencing burnout:

  • 66% of Accountants
  • 65% of Advertising and PR professionals
  • 58% of Teachers
  • 55% of Consultants

So how did the advertising and PR agencies score individually?

The survey was answered by 1,875 advertising and PR professionals. Although all agencies had a majority of their respondents saying that they are currently experiencing burnout, according to the final numbers, the best performing agency in this survey is BBDO – with 56 percent of employees saying they are experiencing burnout and 44 percent of employees not. Go BBDO! 

More than half of employees at the large agencies are currently experiencing burnout:

  • 77% of McCann employees
  • 72% of Ogilvy employees
  • 68% of Grey employees
  • 64% of Edelman employees
  • 58% of FCB employees
  • 56% of BBDO employees

McCann tops the list with an overwhelming 77 percent of employees experiencing burnout – more than three quarters of their responding employees. Falling not too far behind is Ogilvy, with 72% of their responding employees currently experiencing burnout.

The astoundingly high numbers among the advertising agencies reflect the industry’s expectations of the workforce, especially since the industry has been plagued with lower budgets, higher expectations, tighter timelines, and fleeting talent. If high expectations and doing more with less are a norm—is there a way out of burnout? Let’s talk about solutions. 

Our mission at Fishbowl is to provide a safe space for employees to discuss workplace issues that agency leaders can use to learn from and make the change that the industry is asking for. We hope this information is helpful to move the needle for the industry.

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