TBWA\Worldwide has today released a global study on the Future of Creative Work, revealing how creative talent feels about the state of the workplace, and what companies can do to make it better for employees.
Compared with the general employee benchmark, creative talent are significantly less likely to be satisfied with their work/life balance (55 percent, compared to a 64 percent global benchmark), and more likely to feel burned out or discouraged a lot of the time. In a culture where boundaries, mental health and stability are the most important values, the time has come for change.
Analyzing data from three different global sources—a proprietary TBWA global quantitative study which surveyed employees at creative companies as well as a general employee sample; syndicated resources such as Forrester and HBR, and by scraping content from employee review sites—the study seeks to uncover just how much the culture of creative work had changed since the workism-fueled 2010s.
“Creativity has the ability to move the world forward,” said Ben Williams, TBWA’s global chief creative experience officer, who co-led the study with Agathe Guerrier, the agency’s global chief strategy officer. “But for agencies and creative companies to be leading this progress, our work cultures need to evolve, quickly.”
Added Guerrier, “As an industry, we have a tendency to use creativity as an excuse, as if working in a creative field was reward enough to forego such mundane notions as annual reviews, career paths, functioning processes and fair pay. The findings of the research should act as a wake-up call. Our talent is asking us to respect their time and mental space, to provide financial stability, and to deliver a better daily experience of creative work.”
The full report is available now, and highlights include:
Today’s Talent Works to Live, Not Vice Versa
We are entering a new era when it comes to the culture of work. To put this research into context, the study looked at relevant Edges–TBWA’s term for a meaningful cultural shift. The top three Edges that resonated the most in the study across the general sample of all employees, not just creative, all showed work being put firmly back in its place.
- Work/ Life Boundaries, 80 percent respondents agree/ strongly agree it is important their employer helps them achieve a good balance between personal and professional life.
- Stability Pursuit, 79 percent respondents strongly agree it is important their employer helps them maintain stability in their work-life so they can confidently plan for the personal milestones they care about. What’s even more surprising is that stability is most important to the youngest employees: 69 percent strongly agree among 18-25s, versus 51 percent among 41-55s.
- Mind Maintenance, 77 percent respondents agree/strongly agree it is important their employer helps them care for their mental health by avoiding unnecessary pressures or stress, and proactively supports their emotional wellbeing.
The cultural value that mattered the least out of the nine measured among all respondents, creative and the general sample, was Activist Awakening–the idea that work should align with a person’s values or causes they care about.
Creative Talent Expects More
The findings show that creative talent has stronger demands of their employers than the general population sample.
- Work/Life Balance, 63 percent of creatives strongly agree it is important that their employer help them achieve a healthy balance vs 44 percent general population sample.
- Stability Pursuit, 59 percent of creatives strongly agree vs 38 percent general population sample.
- Mind Maintenance, 58 percent of creatives strongly agree vs 42 percent general population sample.
The Daily Grind Is Worse for Creatives
While creative companies earn high marks for placing a high value on creativity (81 percent vs a 51 percent global benchmark), as well as building cultures where employees feel respected by their co-workers (86 percent) and receive praise and recognition for their work (71 percent), they are falling short on the day-to-day employee experience.
Creatives are 2x more likely to say things like approvals and authorizations, day to day schedule and task management and daily commutes degrade their work experience than the global benchmark.
Williams notes “The biggest problem is with the day-to-day experience of creative work–the pain points and daily grind standing in the way of flow. We’re seeing talent increasingly ask for their boundaries to be respected, help achieving their goals and support with their mental wellbeing. They know what they want, and we need to be giving it to them.”
The findings point to some actionable changes all creative companies can make.
#1 Creativity cannot thrive without daily process and structure.
Creative industries are not delivering on the functions of daily work–the approvals and processes and operational burdens that get in the way of getting down to work. How can we improve the daily experience of work to enable more creative flow? As one example, TBWA is looking at different business models to incentivize faster, smarter and more efficient ways of working.
#2 Talent wants work to stay in its lane.
While we used to think talent wanted work and life to blend, it’s clear they want boundaries. How can we better protect talent’s boundaries, or at least recognize when we overstep, especially when the physical boundaries of life and work are blurrier than ever with remote work?
#3 Stability matters more than spirituality.
Where we thought talent yearned for an employer who aligned with their high-level values and worldview, we’re discovering their expectations are more pragmatic. Companies can focus on the fundamentals, from annual reviews to growth plans to compensation, and gain more satisfaction than offering quick fixes. TBWA agencies including Shanghai, New York and others have invested in transparent career planning and professional development plans to give clearer career direction to talent.
TBWA is in the initial stages of a long term investment in employee experience, exploring more efficient models and ways of working and applying learnings to the company’s operations. Anyone interested in advancing the Future of Creative Work agenda can contribute comments and ideas directly in the report.