How to Prevent Agency Burnout (With 5 Strategies)

According to Gallup, one in every four employees often experiences job burnout. As competition becomes fiercer and new trends emerge faster than ever, staying ahead of the curve becomes overwhelming. A prolonged state of overwhelm or stress leads to burnout.

Let’s explore agency burnout in detail—its signs, symptoms, causes, impact on businesses, and strategies for its prevention.

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What is Agency Burnout? 

Agency burnout is distress that disrupts your employees’ functioning at three levels—mental, physical, and emotional.

It occurs when employees in fast-paced agency environments, such as advertising, marketing, or PR, experience extreme mental and physical exhaustion due to chronic work stress. This happens when the demands to meet tight deadlines and the long hours intersect, resulting in a sense of being overwhelmed and drained.

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How Does Agency Burnout Impact Businesses? 

In agency burnout, your managers and employees experience chronic stress that affects their ability to carry out day-to-day tasks at your workplace. 

Some of the common ways in which agency burnout can impact your business include:

  • Decreased productivity: Creative thinking is the cornerstone of a marketing agency. Burnout shuts down your employees’ ability to think creatively. It makes your employees lose focus and more prone to making mistakes, bringing down their quality of work and output. Decreased productivity impacts your agency’s bottom line
  • Increased absenteeism: Burnout makes your employees more exhausted than usual. It makes them feel confused and increases their susceptibility to headaches, depression, and stress-related disorders. When employees feel out of sorts, they tend to take sick leaves, increasing absenteeism at your workplace
  • Low employee retention: When your employees feel burned out, their sense of job satisfaction decreases, making them more likely to leave your agency and migrate to other agencies. This sort of migration is accompanied by a loss of knowledge and expertise your employees possess. Increased employee turnover causes your agency to incur huge recruitment, onboarding, and training costs
  • Damage to company culture: Negative emotions are a breeding ground for toxicity. Burnout makes your employees feel a range of negative emotions, including anger and frustration. They induce feelings of detachment and disinterest in work. If left unchecked, these feelings and emotions can create a toxic work environment, causing damage to the culture of your company
  • Affected client/customer service: Burnout reduces your employees’ motivation to respond to your customers’ queries  and manage client expectations. Delayed responses and poor communication tend to cause misunderstandings between your employees and clients, negatively impacting your client-agency relationship

Burnout can have a long-lasting impact—from your team’s productivity to your own effectiveness as a marketing agency owner. You may struggle to meet business goals, lose sight of your vision for business, and fail to deliver on promises to clients. If burnout takes hold, it can potentially damage your credibility and destroy the trust of current and new clients. This can lead to lost business contracts and unsatisfied clients. 

Researchers have identified a perceived lack of control, lack of recognition, poor relationships, unfairness and values mismatch as other things that trigger burnout. Overwork is obvious, but right now, poor relationships are having a huge impact. 74% of people we surveyed said they were the loneliest they’ve ever been. One in five millennials say they have no friends. Workload’s part of it, but we measure burnout via exhaustion, engagement and cynicism — the idea that nothing will ever change.

Jennifer MossAuthor of The Burnout Epidemic
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How to Identify Agency Burnout? 

To identify agency burnout, you must identify the signs and factors that cause it. 

Factors that cause agency burnout

Several factors can cause you and your employees to suffer from agency burnout. Some of the most common causal factors include:

  • Heavy workloads: Advertising and marketing agencies are constantly expected to produce high-quality work. As a result, agency leaders and employees have more work on their plate that they can complete in a limited amount of time. Constantly chasing deadlines without the space for satisfactory downtime leaves employees feeling stressed, overworked, and miserable
  • Lack of perceived control: When your employees feel as if they are being controlled or micromanaged by the leaders in your agency, insecurity, and decision paralysis could set in. Your employees may feel insecure about their ability to work efficiently and find it difficult to decide on the activities for a campaign. Prolonged insecurity and trouble in making decisions pave the way for burnout
  • Ever-changing wants of clients: Innovations and upgrades keep happening every single day in the marketing and advertising industry, leading to some clients constantly changing their wants for a write-up or a campaign. Catering to the ambiguous, ever-changing priorities of clients makes employees feel far away from touching the finishing line. The sense of work never getting done reduces morale and creates frustration, eventually resulting in employee burnout
  • Misaligned values: When your employee values something that your company doesn’t, it negatively impacts your employee’s motivation. Working at an agency with misaligned values and a decreasing level of motivation increases the likelihood of burnout
  • Toxic work environment: A work environment that doesn’t prioritize clear communication and prompt conflict resolution becomes a ground for miscommunication and mismanagement. Working in such an atmosphere creates resentment and toxicity, quickly leading to agency burnout
  • Unrealistic expectations: Taking on clients who set unrealistic expectations and having your employees work on meeting them wears their bandwidth thin. In such cases, not managing clients’ expectations creates the space for employee burnout
  • Insufficient resources and support: Working on tasks with insufficient resources, such as trying to run and manage a large-scale campaign on a limited budget, poses a big challenge and increases the risk of workplace anxiety. Similarly, assigning tasks to employees that fall outside of their skill sets without providing support creates a sense of dread and inadequacy, which, if left unaddressed, results in employee burnout
  • Connecting productivity with self-worth: Employees who associate productivity solely with logging in a set number of hours make their mental health liable to be affected when the situations are stressful, or the deadlines are tight. Productivity should also take into account the efforts made and the quality of work produced. When you are less ‘productive’ than you might have expected, your self-worth gets affected. Having low self-esteem creates the space for burnout
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5 Strategies to Avoid Agency Burnout

Now you know what agency burnout looks like. But how do you prevent this?  You can keep your employees happy and improve their productivity with the right management strategies. Here are five strategies that will help you avoid agency burnout:

1. Adopt workflow automation

Custom automation in ClickUp
Automate routine tasks with ClickUp Automations

Workflow automation involves automating the repetitive, boring tasks in the workflow so that you have more time for other relevant tasks. Using the Automations feature in ClickUp, you can automate the following:

  • Changing statuses, which include In Progress, Review, Accepted, and more. When an employee submits a task, for instance, the status will automatically change from In Progress to Review
  • Changing assignees. For instance, when a team member submits a task, the assignee will automatically change from the team member to the team leader
  • Color-coding and posting comments according to priority changes, such as Urgent, High, Low, etc. For instance, when the priority status changes to Urgent, this feature will immediately inform the team member with a comment
  • Moving tasks to appropriate locations, such as Lists and Folders
  • Sending emails to clients during the onboarding process
  • Sending surveys to get to know customers’ views and feedback about a product or a campaign via email

2. Cultivate a positive work culture that prioritizes clear communication

Bridge the communication gap and foster collaboration with the ClickUp Internal Communication Strategy and Action Plan Template

To foster a positive work culture, employees need to have a strong bond with each other. One crucial aspect of building this bond is effective communication.

Unfortunately, in many workplaces, communication can be hindered by time-consuming tasks. Leveraging tools like ClickUp’s Internal Communication Strategy template opens up the space for teamwork, allowing employees to collaborate and exchange ideas. When employees work together efficiently, even laborious and challenging tasks become easier to manage. 

Check-in with your employees from time to time. Work toward creating a space where employees feel heard. Acknowledge the existence of agency burnout and have conversations about it. 

Provide your agency with a platform to communicate openly with the ClickUp Employee Feedback template

Additionally, ask your employees for feedback on the current workplace culture using tools like the ClickUp Employee Feedback template. This template clues you into what employees value the most and their ideal workplace environment. While you may not be able to accommodate every need and demand, it is important to have an open dialogue around the expectations from both employees and the agency’s leadership.

Acknowledging and valuing consistent excellence is essential for cultivating a positive work culture. It is vital to recognize and incentivize employees who exceed expectations, as this boosts their spirits and encourages them to maintain exceptional performance. 

Moreover, fostering a positive work environment entails appreciating diversity and ensuring that individuals from different backgrounds feel accepted and integrated. When people embrace and support each other’s unique qualities, it creates a healthy atmosphere that enhances productivity in the workplace.

3. Foster a healthy work-life balance

Promoting a healthy work-life balance in your life and at your agency is key to avoiding agency burnout. To foster a healthy work-life balance, it’s important to:

  • Take short breaks throughout the day. Allocate time to each task and take a break after completing it. Use these breaks to eat lunch, interact with colleagues, go on a walk, etc. Breaks clear your mind of work-related stress and help you focus better on your return to work
  • Utilize annual leaves to relax at home or go on a vacation. Vacation helps you disconnect from work, recharge, and go back to work with a fresh perspective
  • Switch off work-related correspondence during the weekend. Instead, engage in hobbies such as going on a hike, reading a book, drawing scenery, baking, taking a dance class, or taking a pottery class. Do things that help you destress and relax
  • Close work at a set time every day. This will prevent work from spilling over into your personal life and help you steer clear of poor work-life balance
  • Participate in volunteering activities like social service to give back to your community. This will make you engaged in something other than your work and make you feel good about yourself
  • Set boundaries to avoid overservicing clients. Before deciding to take on clients, have a discussion about your agency’s boundaries and ways of working. This will help develop a healthy client-agency relationship from the get-go

Pro Tip: Keep track of your time easily using ClickUp’s Time-Tracking feature. This will give you more insight into tasks where you end up spending extra time and set boundaries accordingly. You can track your time from any device, set estimates and edit them, add time labels and notes, and view at-a-glance or detailed reports of your time entries. 

4. Promote the use of time management and stress management techniques

As a marketer, you have to keep your eyes on many things. As you are pulled in different directions, time slips away. Managing your time well is key to completing various tasks on time.

Using ClickUp’s Time Management Schedule Template will help you manage your time better. It will help you plan ahead, track time, and set achievable goals and deadlines. 

Visualize, organize, and manage your work schedule with ClickUp’s Time Management Schedule Template

Not all tasks are equally important. It’s important to prioritize tasks based on their urgency. Effective time management involves identifying which tasks need to be completed quickly and breaking down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable subtasks.

By managing your time this way you can get more done in the same number of hours you spend working each day. 

Apart from time management techniques, stress management techniques go a long way in preventing burnout in the agency world. These techniques include:

  • Meditation: Try meditation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation to build more mindfulness into your routine. Meditation brings clarity of thought and has a calming effect on the whole body
  • Practicing deep breathing: Deep breathing calms you physically and mentally. You can explore techniques like box breathing, or 4-7-8 breathing for a quick reset during a stressful day
  • Regular exercise: Exercise stimulates the release of happy hormones. Take out time to do some sort of exercise, such as running, swimming, yoga, etc., for at least a few minutes every day
  • Decluttering your desk: If your desk is cluttered, reducing the amount of visual clutter, such as unnecessary objects, will help reduce stress
  • Eating nutritious food: Stress can make some people crave fast food more. Overcoming this urge and choosing nutrient-rich foods can actually reduce stress levels
  • Using visualization: Picture a joyful memory from your past. By visualizing this moment, you can bring back those positive emotions and reduce any stress or anxiety you may be feeling. 
  • Connecting with others: Humans are social creatures. Connecting with friends and family will help you relax and destress

Dynamic working is another way to enable better work-life balance for your employees. If it fits well with your business model, allow people to work from home, change or condense their working hours in a way that best fits their lives. This means allowing caregiver employee to work from home for instance.
Global banking group Barclays piloted this policy during 2015. By 2017, 57% of the employees identified as dynamic workers, and their engagement score went well above the peers who did not take part in the initiative (approximately 5% higher).

5. Improve project and workload management

To avoid burnout, you must invest in better project management and workload distribution processes. To optimize these processes, it’s important to:

Work on capacity planning

Agency capacity planning refers to the strategic process of balancing available resources to meet project demands. Before allocating resources, it’s best to conduct a resource assessment. When you know which employees have a low workload at the moment, you can distribute tasks across employees in a way that doesn’t overburden them and prevent employee burnout in the long run. 

Use marketing agency project management software

It’s best to use dedicated project management software to level up your marketing agency operations

ClickUp can be a project managing powerhouse for your agency by helping you create, allocate, track, and monitor multiple projects and campaigns without missing a beat. 

ClickUp's Project Management Template
Manage projects effectively with customized, ready-made project briefs, outlines, and tasks 

You can easily organize and handle various projects and tasks using the tool’s hierarchical framework. Features like ClickUp Workspaces, and ClickUp Spaces can help categorize and manage your work effectively. 

With real-time dashboards and ClickUp Views like Board and Calendar, teams can easily visualize their workload, track deadlines, and make necessary adjustments to stay on top of things. 

That’s not all. ClickUp can also help you: :

  • Generate a project brief that outlines the goals, roles, and responsibilities required for  your project with ClickUp Brain, ClickUp’s AI assistant
  • Break down the whole project into compact, manageable tasks with ClickUp Tasks
  • Analyze the structure of the marketing agency before deciding on the members to assign the tasks to and setting deadlines with the Single or Multiple Assignees feature in ClickUp
  • Provide a space for team members to chat, brainstorm, and engage in discussions with the help of ClickUp Whiteboards
  • Organize tasks into custom statuses before tracking the progress of tasks along with their respective deadlines using ClickUp Task Statuses
  • Set conditions and dependencies to automate the status workflow with with ClickUp Automations
  • Monitor and evaluate the progress of tasks and keep your clients informed of progress with ClickUp Dashboards 
Manage everything from client onboarding to project delivery with the ClickUp Agency Management Template

Pro Tip: Manage all your project management needs in one place with the ClickUp Agency Management template. As the ultimate template, it helps you manage client onboarding, project outlines, resources, assignment of tasks, collaboration, feedback, revisions, and project delivery. 

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Prevent Burnout With ClickUp

Agency burnout has become a common phenomenon. It affects the well-being of your employees and your agency, disrupting productivity and your bottom line. However, following the abovementioned strategies makes combating and preventing burnout possible. 

Using ClickUp in your strategy can help prevent burnout. Thanks to the extensive customizable templates for marketing agencies, you can effectively handle project scoping, manage project timelines, resources, workload, delivery, as well as clients’ feedback and revisions all in a single platform. 

As one of the best agency management software, ClickUp offers AI-powered project management and collaboration solutions, making it the go-to tool for marketing agencies. 

Get more done and save more time by signing up for free on ClickUp today! 

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