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Work & Wellbeing Mental Health

Overworked marketers and agency staff say employers not doing enough on mental health


By Sam Bradley, Journalist

May 4, 2021 | 5 min read

The mental health of workers across the global marketing industry is under severe strain, with heavy workloads to blame, according to a mental health survey that asked readers of The Drum about how their mental health has fared over the course of the pandemic.

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Our survey found marketers’ mental wellbeing seriously affected by their workloads

Last month, The Drum ran an anonymous mental health survey open to all our readers. While our coverage over the past year has looked at the toll of working through the pandemic on the mental health of marketers both junior and senior, and examined some of the proposed solutions, we wanted to gain a wider view – and find out whether our readers thought those solutions were working or not.

Below, we reveal the results of that survey.

Workloads weighing down marketers

  • Asked how their mental health had changed since the beginning of the pandemic, 75% said it had got worse. 30.1% reported that their mental health had got ’considerably worse’, while 44.9% said it had become ’slightly worse’.

  • Workloads at brands and agencies have had a major impact on workers’ wellbeing. 62.6% of our sample reported that their workload had a major impact on their mental health, while 32.6% described it as a ’minor variable’.

  • Just 4.8% reported their workload had not had an impact on their mental health.

  • Working from home has benefited some. 15.2% of our sample reported that their mental health had improved over the course of the pandemic.

Support from employers lacking

  • Some employers have offered mental health support – and 23% of our sample said their workplace had offered new support since the beginning of the pandemic. But 43% of our sample said their employer offered no mental health support.

  • The majority of our respondents said their employers weren’t doing enough to support them. 42.3% said their employers could have done ‘a little more’ and 36.1% said they could have done ‘a lot more’; only 21.6% said their employer had provided enough support.

  • Of the support on offer, private therapy was the most common solution offered by employers; despite the fact that most of our sample said their workload was the biggest factor in their mental wellbeing, just 8.1% of those with access to support said they had been offered the chance to reduce their workload.

  • 36.2% said they had sought professional help such as contacting their GP or a therapy session.

  • Most (51.7%) workers felt uncomfortable discussing their mental wellbeing with colleagues. Only 11.5% said they felt ’very comfortable’ discussing the subject with their teammates and supervisors.

Ambivalent on return to office

  • Asked whether they were looking forward to their (eventual) return to offices and physical workplaces, 37% said they felt positively, while 47% said they were either slightly or strongly negative about the move.

  • The survey also revealed the extent of cutbacks at agencies and marketing teams. 33% said they’d had a pay cut as a result of the pandemic, and 16% said they had been placed on furlough.

  • 8% of our sample had been made redundant by employers, and 38% said their direct reports or teammates had been let go.

Our sample

  • The survey included responses from over 400 respondents from over 30 countries. 52% were from the UK, 17.6% from the US, and 7.6% were based in Singapore. 71.4% identified as women, and 27.4% as men.

  • The sample included brand marketers in the private and charity sectors, and agency workers from both indie and network shops across the media, digital and creative sectors.

  • 12% held junior/entry-level positions, 35.8% were in mid-level positions, 43.1% were in management and 9% held C-suite or board-level roles. 40% of our sample had worked in the industry for over 20 years; 38% for between 10-19 years, and 34% were working in the first decade of their career.

Nabs’s Nicky Harris discusses the findings of our mental health survey, and puts forwards recommendations for employers looking to step up, in a comment article today.

Work & Wellbeing Mental Health

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