Julian Douglas is right. The IPA’s president highlighted the rising mental health crisis among adland agencies that must be addressed, or else talent will be lost.
Author: Amir Guy, Co-Founder, togetherr
Cause and effect
Firstly, how did we get here, and how can these issues be resolved to tackle deteriorating mental-health and talent retention? In recent years, the industry landscape has changed beyond recognition, yet agencies have not adapted in tandem. The agency model is no longer aligned with client needs, seeing profits sink and frustrations rise.
Retaining talent reaches an all time low
Levels of creative expertise have also reached an all-time low. The industry lost 5.5% more talent than it gained over the last five years, while the tech industry gained 23% more talent than it lost in the same period (LinkedIn, 2022).
The global pandemic led to the ‘Great Resignation’ as the entire global economy fought to retain employees. Poor mental health was stated as a leading reason for people leaving their jobs in droves. And earlier this year, advertising industry wellbeing charity, Nabs, reported a 15% annual increase in mental health-related calls to its helpline.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 6 ways to tackle the causes of burnout, put talent first and adapt a broken model:
1. Adapt or die
Creatives are growing increasingly frustrated, getting buried under layers of processes, financial systems and management hierarchy. It's killing almost every great idea for fear of losing a client. Business models are no longer aligned with client needs. The wheel must be reinvented. Clients are looking for better creative outcomes, slicker deliverables, more ideas and shorter time intervals, much shorter. The current agency model cannot satisfy these needs, hence irritation grows, from clients and agency employees alike.
2. Nurture creative talent
Creatives are the industry’s most valuable asset. Let’s empower those people and put their well-being first. How about flexible working hours that meet individual needs, with part-time and remote-working options. Let’s adopt solutions that put the creatives in control.
3. Introduce flexible models
Cut unnecessary layers of people and management that are there only to justify retainers and to make sure the work is not "risking" a client leaving the agency, which can, in turn, lead to lay-offs when the client arbitrarily cuts the retainer. Introduce flexible models to put less pressure on people and utilize technology, data, and platforms to simplify systems and build the right team for the job.
Let's get togetherr
4. Collaborate and outsource creative skills
Don't try to own every niche skill needed, there's just no way you can and still be profitable. So outsource and collaborate with others. We can’t expect employees to work more for less because we have to retain the client, and then be surprised when the talent leaves. Source additional creative skills to bolster projects when required.
5. Simplify and streamline
Consolidate and streamline the agency model, instead of creating more sister companies with separate P&Ls within agencies and networks. Even when you brand them as "integrated" they are still different disciplines, forced into one team, fighting for the client budget, which is leading to internal battles. That's a mental health hazard. Instead, lean into single P&L models, eliminating internal competition.
6. Adopt new platforms, like togetherr
There's so much more we can do to make our talent happier and the work better.
We must explore new models for attracting, retaining and nurturing employees, and upending the current model with new, innovative solutions. togetherr is designed to eradicate a broken model. To eliminate complexities and put strong ideas, and fun, back in the business of creativity. We’re empowering the very best creative minds with the very best in business through our AI-powered platform. Join us!