Marketing departments and agencies across the country are already dealing with a burnout epidemic, and it’s not a problem that is likely to abate any time soon. A whopping 80% of marketers claim they feel overworked. And two in three of them expect their workloads to increase.
Marketers are no strangers to stress. Our discipline has become one of high accountability, myriad technical and experiential demands, growing competition, and responsiveness to business cycles that can suddenly pile on work when it’s least expected.
Marketing professionals work more on average than their professional peers. Even the most motivated, driven marketing contractor or full-time professional can eventually get burned out on the never-ending stream of responsibilities and expectations. Every day in the US, about 1 million people miss work due to stress, leading to $150-300 billion in annual lost potential.
Chart from Workfront
Eventually several things are bound to give, beginning with the mental health of your marketers and ending with the productivity of your marketing. Left unchecked, you could be faced with:
- Higher employee turnover as harried talent looks elsewhere for other jobs with more realistic expectations and better work-life balance. That means vacancies in critical skills and leadership positions, and expensive marketing recruitment to hire and onboard a replacement.
- Stressed and overworked marketers that produce quantity over quality. Work will have more small mistakes, be less optimized, and be delivered behind schedule more frequently. ROI will dip as the little things add up.
- Damaged reputation of the Marketing operations to the rest of the organization, clients, and potential employees.
To minimize or avoid the effects of burnout on your marketing team, consider the following actions.
Rotate Extra Marketing Capacity onto the Front Lines
At times of especially high demand, or for critical projects you simply can’t afford not to execute perfectly, bring in additional interim marketing talent to provide an extra boost of expertise and capacity.
Even under strict hiring freezes or headcount restrictions, it’s often possible to supplement your strategy with a marketing contractor, freelancer, or other interim marketing execution capabilities, from creative to digital to technical and beyond. Good talent brought in at just the right time is worth its weight in gold, and is often a viable flexible workforce solution even when full-time headcount is capped or being reduced.
Contract marketing staffing is a fast, flexible way to reinforce your beleaguered marketing team and help ‘hold the lines’ during busy periods. You can bring talent in house or use online marketing staffing to make use of off-site talent.
Contract-to-hire marketing arrangements are often available in instances where you’re unsure whether to create a new full-time position. You can even consider insourcing an agency to support your business on a key initiative and take some of the pressure off your team.
Focus on Results, Not Activity
Unless they’re needed for a meeting or other time-sensitive engagement, there’s not really a pressing need for many of your marketing professionals to be present in the office at any given time.
For instance, someone who leaves at 4:00 every day but always completes their daily duties and regularly meets or exceeds their goals isn’t lazy; they’re efficient.
There’s no value to you or them in forcing them to stick around just to keep a seat warm. As long as they’re keeping their responsibilities covered and KPIs are being met, does it really matter when or for how long they’re in the office every week?
Sure, you might want them available a certain amount of hours to keep them engaged with your company culture and put them in a position to collaborate with their peers. But that also means there’s probably room for flexibility in terms of when they’re expected to clock in and out or how they take their breaks.
If you have strict policies or management expectations about when your marketers are in the office, you need to consider carefully if there’s a strategic advantage to those rules or if they’re based on archaic expectations leftover from the dying traditional workplace.
Re-Evaluate Where Your Marketers Spend Their Time
The State of Marketing Work Report found that marketers spend about 17% of their time writing and responding to emails, 9% in “wasteful meetings,” and 9% on administrative tasks.
Your marketers no doubt have important communications, collaboration, and paperwork responsibilities. However, there certainly seems to be room for improvement.
There’s no one solution to time squandered on seemingly less productive activities. Some organizations have experimented with email and meeting policies designed to minimize the amount of frivolous communication and wasted time. Others implement various project management or collaboration tools to reduce redundant communication and minimize time wasted.
Regardless of your situation, cutting down on unproductive activities across the team will create some more breathing room for your marketers.
It’s one thing to feel overworked.
It’s another to feel overworked, underpaid and unappreciated.
Recognizing and, when possible, compensating your team for their extra hard work and dedication during times of high stress can be an effective way to mitigate burnout. They won’t make the risk of burnout disappear long-term, but they can take the immediate edge off.
Recognition can come in many forms, and it’s up to your management team to know what works best for each of your team members. Some will be most motivated by public acknowledgement, others by a few quiet personal words. The important thing is to acknowledge their hard work and make sure they know it’s appreciated.
Likewise, you can offer a variety of different rewards to individuals that are working over capacity all the time. A bonus or raise are obvious financial incentives that are almost always well-received–and they might help retain some team members considering jumping ship for other opportunities. You can also get creative with other rewards, from office parties to corporate events to more PTO to greater autonomy and flexibility with their time.