Mental health and wellbeing are hot topics for those working in adland and as Lucy Batchelor (main photo), a 22-year-old planner at The Works argues, the time has come for the next generation to step up…
My friends think advertising is glamorous.
They tell me to “lighten up, you have it so good” and “work hard, play hard… What more could you want?”.
It’s an environment that thrives off hedonism – long lunches, open bars and late-night partying. But what they don’t know is it’s a lot more work hard than play hard. It’s an industry where 12-hour plus days, unrealistic deadlines and weekends taken up with pitches are the norm.
So, it comes to no surprise that in 2018, the first major study into the mental health and wellbeing in the advertising industry, Never Not Creative, found that 56 per cent of people showed symptoms of depression compared to a national average of 36 per cent. And it certainly didn’t come as a shock that a third of us are working weekends at least once a month.
We are a generation of creatives at risk of a major burnout.
In the midst of these long hours, hard deadlines and creative chaos, has the fun in our industry evaporated?
Harvard researcher Teresa Amabile debunks the myth that emotional pain spurs happiness. In fact, Amabile found that happiness and creativity work in a virtuous cycle. One day’s happiness often predicts the next day’s creativity.
On top of that, Australia’s booze consumption levels hit a record low in 50 years (ABS), and Millennials being more health-conscious generation with 65 per cent of them turning to nutritionists for advice (Halo Group).
So why can’t those in positions of leadership see we’d give up the free booze for free brunch?
The tech giants get it. They know in order to get the best work out of existing employees and attract the best talent, creativity and happiness need to become the foundation of the workplace. With the likes of Facebook and Google offering free organic, healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, onsite gyms and swimming pools, subsidised massages, and outings like ski trips and picnics –they are going some way to making their employees happy.
Luckily at the agency I work, they have introduced flexible-working (so no side-eye as you leave your desk at 5:30 pm) among other employee first initiatives.
But our industry as a whole is one of the worst culprits when it comes to promotion of the importance of wellbeing and for one that prides itself on adaptability and agility to change, can we finally make the industry a happier one?
What I can say is that we aren’t going to wait around for leadership to implement new policies or indeed follow their own, instead, the next generation needs to step up.
We have a desire to be happy, to be fulfilled, and we understand the importance of happiness and its flow-on effects to delivering great work. That’s why next Thursday The International Advertising Association (IAA) Young Professionals are coming together to talk about mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. It’s the next generation’s time to take leadership on this very important issue. Come and have your say on how we can start fixing it.