November 01, 2022
How’s the Mental Health of Your Marketing Teams?
By Loretta Stagnitto
Demanding Times and Deliverables Create Anxiety Overload and Talent Burn Out
Just as the pandemic becomes endemic, we can now lay claim to another global Epidemic, namely Anxiety and Burnout in the workplace.
Not entirely created by the unprecedented impact of Covid, but certainly heightened by it, mental health concerns about an overabundance of anxiety and burnout in the workplace are at an all-time high. So much so that the U.S. Preventative Services Task force, a panel of medical experts, recently recommended for the first time that doctors screen all their adult patients under 65 for anxiety. It made the same recommendation for children and teenagers earlier this year, all with the intent to help prevent mental health disorders from going undetected and untreated for years or even decades to come.
And that’s not all. After conducting its own research of the global workforce in 2021, Gallup declared that employees around the world are experiencing stress at an “all-time-high level, and worry, anger, and sadness” are still above pre-pandemic levels. Considered an “organizational risk”, they note that leaders who don’t pay attention to employee well-being can be blindsided by burnout of their top performers, and high quit rates.
“If anxiety is not your number 1 issue in the workplace, it should be number 1A.” Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick, Anxiety at Work, 2021
Before becoming an Executive and Leadership Coach, I spent the first two decades of my career running large scale PR and Marketing campaigns for both internal brands and at Marketing agencies, during the start of the Internet era. Exciting, yes, but talk about anxiety and burnout! I have personal experience and insight into the long hours and deliverable demands put upon Marketing teams, then and now. It’s true that the pandemic did not create burnout; organizations and certain professions had been experiencing it for many years before Covid (think healthcare, teachers, social-workers and the Tech industry, where burnout and long hours is somewhat of a badge of honor for start-ups).
Today I hear several times daily, from leaders and their staffs across industries and functions, about how burned out and anxious they feel, all the time. What’s worse, burnout can lead to Quiet Quitting --- that’s a new trendy term given to describe “not taking your job too seriously”. We’ve all had folks like these on our teams – the ones who do the bare minimum of work, or don’t go above and beyond, or focus more energy on life outside of work. Yet now, burnout is causing some high-performers to quiet quit.
How’s the mental health of your marketing teams? Are demanding deliverables and unrealistic work hours causing your star performers to burnout or quiet quit?
In the context of today’s business environment, where 30% of workers claimed in 2020 they were living with an anxiety disorder (and 42% of people in 20s), showering attention on staff and employees is one strategy for addressing the burnout and anxiety crisis facing global organizations today. That attention includes more frequent connection and communication with your teams; making sure members find purpose and joy in their work; and providing targeted growth opportunities and well-understood expectations about career paths for Millennials, GenZers and high-performers alike.
In their book, Anxiety at Work: 8 Strategies to Help Teams Build Resilience, Handle Uncertainty, and Get Stuff Done, Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick declare that in order to retain the best young workers, and reduce unnecessary career anxiety in their people, it is vital that leaders address concerns about job security, growth and advancement.
Having grown up as ‘digital natives, the authors note, Millennials and GenZ workers in particular are more anxious about their jobs as a result. While Millennials are looking for job security, more than 75% of GenZ workers believe they should be promoted after a year on the job. Leaders must recognize that it’s that nagging anxiety in their employees’ minds that will eventually impact how productive or committed they are when it comes to the work they do.
No matter what causes the anxiousness, or what Generation your staff members associate with, here are some ways Marketing leaders can engage to address staff burnout and anxiety and get things done:
- Create more steps for growth along the promotional ladder: Rather than a traditional two-year promotional approach, some companies have developed innovative programs that break-up the steps to advancing by providing milestones, pay bumps, title increases, and performance hurdles every 6-months. They have learned that more frequent career feedback, better chances for getting ahead and some self-direction are very effective at building morale and contributing to overall company success.
- Coach on how to get ahead : I find a lot of early- and mid-career individuals who don’t yet recognize that they can take charge of their own career development by adding new skills or gaining new experience. Leaders can be proactive in helping staff feel confident about doing this, as well as teaching them to produce the kind of outcomes and business value that senior leaders will care about. That ultimately, will put them on the road to advancement.
- Help assess skills and motivations: We know that anxiety shows up because of a fear of the unknown, unfamiliar and uncertain. One aspect of that uncertainty among Millennials, Gen Z workers, and even high-performers, is wondering if the path their ambition has led them to is actually the path they most want to take. I’ve seen many times where taking a certain job moves individuals into roles they are not qualified for, or maybe not really even interested in, because they see it as a way advance or get to a higher level. Leaders can help employees learn quickly that passion and doing work they find rewarding is just as important, if not more, than compensation and promotions. In my experience, the former is what drives satisfaction and abundance around the latter.
- Encourage peer-to-peer support: Having resources such as Google or YouTube available to employees as one way to learn a new skill, means they will rely less on you as their leader for learning. In addition, most younger workers will seek out the advice of friends or their on-line communities, rather than induce their own anxiety by having to ask a manager how to do something or admit they don’t know. Leaders can proactively embrace the peer-to-peer learning approach to address this underlying anxiety by finding structured and more ad hoc ways to bring individuals together to share experiences and coach and mentor each other around day-to-day workplace challenges.
We can help Marketing leaders and teams address the organizational risks of too many deliverables and demanding hours that lead to burnout and quiet quitting. Our Addressing Burnout and Beating Anxiety programs range from lunch and learns for covering the basics, to on-site or virtual, interactive training and coaching programs that help build resilience strategies and beat anxiety.
About the Author
Loretta is a leadership coach, executive advisor, trainer, and workshop facilitator who has inspired and coached many highly motivated professionals and teams in dynamic and constantly changing business environments. In 2004 she founded Loretta Stagnitto Leadership Associates, and in 2011 she launched The “I Know” System™ for Personal and Team Leadership Development. Loretta created this unique coaching methodology after years of interpreting how good managers become great leaders and how productive teams evolve into high-performing ones.
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