(ad)just the mind: how healthy minds create healthy ads

(ad)just the mind: how healthy minds create healthy ads

every year, as the end of the year approaches, ccoach embarks on a crucial mission—to delve deep into the state of mental health within the advertising and marketing industry. this annual undertaking, driven by our commitment to fostering a healthier and more supportive workplace culture, involves commissioning a comprehensive report that offers invaluable insights into the well-being of professionals in this dynamic field. With each iteration, our aim is not only to uncover the challenges and trends impacting mental health but also to provide actionable recommendations that empower organisations to prioritise the well-being of their employees. As we launch into another year of exploration and discovery, we reaffirm our dedication to promoting mental wellness and resilience in the advertising and marketing sector.

the (ad)just report stands at the juncture of in-depth research and actionable change within the marketing and advertising industry. commissioned by ccoach at the end of 2023, this study reveals the pressing need for a holistic approach to mental health, emphasising the key role of management in cultivating a supportive and meaningful work environment.

utilising a robust methodology that honours anonymity and informed consent, we engaged with 250 marketing and advertising professionals across the UK and US, unveiling a worrying landscape marked by stress, burnout, and sleep difficulties. these findings, deeply validated by third-party research such as the american psychological association and the world health organisation, point towards a universal need for improved mental health practices in the workplace.

the burnout epidemic

our findings paint a vivid picture: nearly 1 in 3 professionals report frequent experiences of burnout, and more than 1 in 4 confront stress and anxiety directly tied to the pressures of their work. this data not only mirrors broader industry trends but also resonates with the American Psychological Association’s (APA) critical insights, highlighting work as a significant stressor in many professionals’ lives and underscoring the urgent need for targeted mental health interventions (APA Stress in America™).

alarmingly, our survey highlights that 21% of advertising professionals grapple with sleep difficulties stemming from work-induced stress, echoing findings from the National Sleep Foundation. this correlation between stress and sleep quality spotlights the critical need for wellness initiatives that prioritise rest as a cornerstone of employee health and productivity (National Sleep Foundation on Stress and Sleep). in real-world terms, this data compels a reevaluation of workplace cultures that glorify constant connectivity and perpetual busyness. It calls for an industry-wide shift towards valuing and facilitating restorative sleep as a non-negotiable aspect of professional life. by adopting practices that mitigate stress and champion quality rest—be it through flexible scheduling, stress management training, or promoting a culture that genuinely disengages from work after hours—organisations can foster healthier, happier, and more productive work environments.

recognising the critical link between stress and sleep, as underscored by the “Mind Matters 2024” findings and supported by the National Sleep Foundation, invites a paradigm shift. It’s a shift from viewing rest as a mere personal responsibility to understanding it as a collective asset, integral to the sustained success and innovation within the advertising industry.

the gender gap

moreover, our investigation into the mental health landscape of the advertising world uncovers a notable gender gap, with approximately 30% of female professionals reporting heightened levels of stress and anxiety. this significant finding aligns with the World Health Organization’s research, underscoring the essential need for gender-sensitive mental health support in workplaces (WHO on Gender and Mental Health).

the World Health Organization (WHO) has long emphasised the influence of societal expectations and gender norms on mental health, suggesting that such external factors can significantly impact the stress levels and mental well-being of individuals based on gender. this correlation suggests that the pressures and challenges faced by women in the digital advertising industry may be compounded by societal and professional expectations, contributing to the higher reported rates of stress and anxiety.

furthermore, the survey sheds light on the broader implications of these findings, emphasizing the importance of implementing tailored mental health strategies that account for these gender-specific challenges. By fostering a work environment that recognises and addresses the distinct experiences of both male and female professionals, organisations can take a crucial step toward supporting the mental well-being of their entire workforce.

this gender-specific analysis not only provides valuable insights into the mental health dynamics of the digital advertising industry but also serves as a call to action for implementing more inclusive and supportive mental health initiatives. The data suggests that recognising and addressing the unique mental health challenges faced by professionals based on gender is essential for cultivating a healthier, more productive workplace environment​​.

coping mechanisms

in terms of coping mechanisms, our respondents showed a preference for engaging in regular exercise (25%) and taking strategic breaks throughout their workday (21%) as primary methods of stress management. This approach is bolstered by Mayo Clinic research, which supports the integration of physical wellness activities as a fundamental component of comprehensive mental health strategies (Mayo Clinic on Exercise and Stress).

furthermore, our survey sheds light on the profound impact of familial responsibilities on stress management preferences, revealing that personal life significantly influences professional well-being. this insight is in harmony with studies from the Harvard Business Review, which highlight the pivotal role of work-family balance in the overall mental health of professionals (Harvard Business Review on Work-Life Balance).

specifically, the survey reveals that professionals with one child are notably inclined towards seeking professional mental health support, compared to their childless counterparts. this distinction underscores the complex interplay between personal life circumstances and the strategies employed to navigate professional stress.

in the broader context of the digital advertising industry, this finding highlights a critical aspect: the presence of familial responsibilities adds an additional layer to how individuals approach stress management. professionals juggling work with parenting or caregiving roles may face unique pressures, prompting them to prioritise and seek out more formalised support mechanisms for stress relief. This observation aligns with broader research, suggesting that the balancing act between professional obligations and familial duties can significantly influence mental health strategies.

for instance, the inclination towards professional mental health support among professionals with children can be seen as a proactive approach to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It reflects an awareness of the limits of self-managed stress relief methods and a recognition of the value that professional guidance can offer in managing the complex stressors that come with balancing a career and family life.

this insight from the (ad)just report, while specific to the digital advertising sector, resonates with findings from across the professional spectrum. research in fields such as psychology and organisational behaviour has long highlighted the impact of familial responsibilities on work-related stress management, suggesting a universal need for supportive workplace policies and practices that recognise and accommodate the diverse life circumstances of employees.

in today’s dynamic business landscape, characterised by changing market dynamics, evolving business models, and shifting priorities, organisations face unprecedented challenges that can significantly impact employee well-being. flatlining economies and the rise of ai further exacerbate these pressures, creating an environment of uncertainty and instability. in such circumstances, employees often grapple with heightened stress levels and feelings of anxiety as they navigate through constant changes and unknowns. moreover, the lack of strong management, particularly in middle management roles, can compound these challenges, leading to a host of mental health issues within the workforce. Without clear direction, effective communication, and supportive leadership, employees may struggle to find a sense of purpose in their work and understand how their roles contribute to the organisation’s goals.

our thoughts

drawing upon ccoach’s extensive experience and the insights gleaned from our founder, Alessandra Di Lorenzo, we offer valuable recommendations for organisations looking to prioritise employee well-being and cultivate a positive workplace culture. We firmly believe that mental health is deeply intertwined with clear management and a sense of purpose, rather than mere perks such as free lunches.

clear communication and expectations are paramount, ensuring that employees understand their roles and contributions to the organisation’s success. by promoting transparency and inclusivity, organisations can foster a sense of ownership among employees, aligning individual efforts with the company’s vision and enhancing organisational cohesion.

clear management involves providing employees with transparent communication about their roles, responsibilities, and expectations. When employees have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, they can approach their work with confidence and clarity, reducing stress and anxiety associated with uncertainty. Additionally, clear management fosters a sense of trust and accountability between employees and their managers, creating a supportive work environment where issues can be addressed openly and effectively.

a sense of purpose goes beyond the day-to-day tasks and is about understanding how one’s work contributes to the broader goals and mission of the organisation. When employees feel connected to the purpose of their work, they are more engaged, motivated, and fulfilled. This sense of purpose provides a deeper meaning to their work, which can act as a buffer against stress and burnout.

in contrast, perks such as free lunches or other superficial benefits may provide temporary satisfaction but do not address the underlying factors that contribute to mental well-being. While these perks may create a positive work environment, they do not necessarily address issues related to job satisfaction, clarity in roles, or a sense of purpose.

therefore, by prioritising clear management practices and fostering a sense of purpose within the organization, companies can create a supportive work environment that promotes mental well-being and contributes to long-term employee satisfaction and success.

recognising and celebrating employee achievements, coupled with providing opportunities for growth and development, are essential components of fostering satisfaction and motivation among employees. When employees’ efforts and contributions are acknowledged and celebrated, it validates their hard work and dedication, boosting morale and enhancing their sense of value within the organization. This recognition not only reinforces positive behaviours and performance but also cultivates a culture of appreciation and camaraderie, strengthening team dynamics and overall workplace satisfaction.

moreover, providing opportunities for growth and development is instrumental in fostering employee engagement and motivation. by investing in training programs, skill-building workshops, mentorship opportunities, and career advancement pathways, organisations demonstrate their commitment to employees’ professional growth and long-term success. this investment not only equips employees with the tools and resources they need to excel in their roles but also empowers them to pursue their career aspirations and personal development goals.

furthermore, offering avenues for growth and development encourages continuous learning and improvement, keeping employees engaged and invested in their work. It fosters a culture of innovation and creativity, where employees feel encouraged to explore new ideas, take on challenges, and contribute to the organisation’s success. ultimately, by recognising achievements and providing opportunities for growth and development, organisations create a positive and supportive work environment where employees feel valued, motivated, and inspired to perform at their best.

prioritising work-life balance through flexible policies acknowledges the importance of personal time and supports employees in achieving a healthy equilibrium between work and life. prioritising work-life balance through flexible policies acknowledges the importance of personal time and supports employees in achieving a healthy equilibrium between work and life. recent experiments, such as the four-day workweek trial conducted in the UK, have demonstrated the positive impact of flexible policies on employee well-being and productivity. In the trial, employees reported reduced stress levels, increased job satisfaction, and improved work-life balance, with similar if not improved company results.

in conclusion

in conclusion, prioritising employee well-being and fostering a positive workplace culture are imperative for organisations striving for long-term success and sustainability.

the insights from our research, combined with ccoach’s extensive experience and expertise, underscore the critical role of clear management, purpose-driven leadership, and supportive policies in promoting mental health and enhancing employee satisfaction. by implementing recommendations that prioritise clear communication, work-life balance, mental health support, recognition, and growth opportunities, organisations can create environments where employees feel valued, engaged, and motivated. As we navigate the complexities of today’s business landscape, let us remain committed to creating workplaces where mental health is prioritised, and employees are empowered to thrive both personally and professionally.

as we reflect on the findings from our ad-just report and the imperative of prioritising mental health in the advertising industry, it’s crucial to recognise the profound correlation between mental well-being and the creation of impactful advertisements. When advertising professionals are supported in their mental wellness journey, they are better equipped to generate creative, authentic, and resonant campaigns that not only drive business success but also connect meaningfully with consumers. however, if this correlation is neglected or broken, the consequences can be detrimental. poor mental health among advertising professionals may lead to decreased creativity, increased stress, and ultimately, the production of less effective advertisements. this not only affects the company’s bottom line but also diminishes the quality of the consumer experience. several studies have explored the relationship between mental well-being and creativity in various professional fields. for instance, research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology has found that positive mood states are associated with increased creativity and problem-solving abilities. similarly, studies in the Journal of Advertising and the Journal of Marketing Research have examined the impact of emotional well-being on advertising effectiveness and consumer responses.

therefore, by prioritising mental health, we not only safeguard the well-being of advertising professionals but also uphold the integrity and effectiveness of the ads we create, ultimately benefiting both the company and its consumers.

get in touch @hello@ccoach.me to access the full ad-just 2023 report.

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