Wake-Up Call: Shocking Truth About the High Price of Burnout in Australia’s Ad & Marketing Professions

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Burnout in Australia’s advertising and marketing professions costs hundreds of millions a year, with no sign of slowing down.

In terms of well-being, the advertising, media, and marketing industry isn’t exactly known for its wellness-focused routines and work-life balance. 

While it may appear glamorous, with extravagant parties and envy-inducing Instagram posts, the repercussions of the work-hard, play-hard mentality are becoming increasingly apparent. 

The 2022 Mentally Healthy report by Unltd revealed that nearly half (46%) of professionals in this industry experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe depression and anxiety. 

Additionally, only 47% stated they needed more time to complete their tasks.

“It’s a bit like having numerous tabs open on your computer – the more you have, and the more complex they become, the harder it is to focus on any of them,” says Dr Nicola Reavley, a mental health expert from the University of Melbourne.

Although the report showed an encouraging rise in employers addressing mental health concerns, the high prevalence of depression and anxiety among nearly 50% of employees remains alarming. This is evident in the industry’s considerably higher turnover rate, surpassing the national average. 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average turnover rate in February 2022 was 9.5%. However, within the media sector, it skyrocketed to 36.1% based on the latest census from the MFA, with a significant portion categorised as “regrettable losses” (32.6%).

Replacing staff members is costly, with junior employees costing an average of 50% of their salary and senior employees costing a staggering 250%. 

Consequently, the industry incurs losses of hundreds of millions of dollars due to high turnover alone. And that’s assuming they even leave. The study also found that disengaged employees cost organisations $3,400 for every $10,000 salary.

Mitch Wallis, the founder of Heart On My Sleeve and a leading figure in the well-being field, expressed little surprise at the industry’s current state. 

Wallis explained that an industry that normalises or glorifies psychologically harmful work practices, such as late-night finishes, combined with a business model focused on “hours” rather than “outcomes,” is bound to experience an exodus. 

The creative industry is witnessing a trend where more individuals choose to forgo dinner and leave.
“It’s time to shift our focus away from overworking and toward recovery,” said Wallis. “Organisations must invest in the mental health of their staff, create flexible work arrangements, and reward employees for actively engaging with well-being programmes.”

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