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Wellbeing Agencies Agency Culture

Indie agency staffers rank mental health worse now than during Covid in wellbeing survey


By Sam Bradley, Journalist

December 19, 2023 | 4 min read

A quarterly agency staff survey published by the Alliance of Independent Agencies suggests cost of living concerns weighing on staff.

A London bus seen in front of raindrops on a window, on a winter's day

Nabs has reported a ‘marked increase’ in calls made to its advice hotline this winter / Unsplash

The mental health and wellbeing of staffers at British indie agencies may be worse this winter than during the Covid lockdowns, according to new figures released by the Alliance of Independent Agencies (AIA).

The figures from a quarterly survey by Opinium on behalf of the AIA suggest concerns over agency workloads, the cost of living and inflation have significantly impacted agency workers this financial quarter.

Respondents were asked to rate their mental health and well-being on a scale of 1-10. Researchers used NPS methodology to compile those responses; this revealed a score of -7 in the first quarter of 2021 when the study was first conducted. By comparison, this quarter’s NPS for mental health and wellbeing was -16.

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Opinium surveyed over 850 staff, representing around 70 indie agencies.

Industry wellbeing charity Nabs says it’s recorded a “marked increase” in calls made to its advice hotline this quarter, relative to winters in previous years.

According to Lorraine Jennings-Creed, director of culture change and wellbeing services, tells The Drum: “Typically, demand on the Nabs Advice Line remains consistent through the year, with a slight increase in Q4 2022 and Q4 2023 when compared with the previous quarters in those years; this is for all types of calls from redundancy and parental rights, to bullying and confidence.

“However, when it comes to calls around emotional support, we have seen a marked increase in calls during Q4 v earlier quarters in the year – a 36% increase in 2022 and 15% in 2023.”

Jennings-Creed says 62% of calls made to the line so far this quarter have been requests for mental health support.

The year’s fourth quarter is a busy time for the ad industry. Between increased numbers of staff out ill and the background stress of the Christmas season, workloads increase as clients look ahead to the first months of the new year.

In addition to those factors, both Nabs and the AIA’s survey suggest that advertising workers are particularly concerned about the cost of living in the UK this winter. 89% of respondents said they were ”quite” or ”very” concerned about inflation and the rising cost of living in Q4.

“Thousands of people’s mental wellness have been affected by the impact of redundancies, the ongoing cost of living crisis and emerging global crises,” says Jennings-Creed.

“We can see this trend reflected through demand for our grants as people’s finances are squeezed and also through our therapy referral service. People are coming to Nabs to proactively look for support for their mental wellness, a trend which we expect to see continue into 2024 as the challenges in our industry community and wider society continue.”

Wellbeing Agencies Agency Culture

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