Job burnout is a hot topic (no pun intended.) I’d like to start with a question before I share some data on burnout. We talk about employee burnout. Do we ever discuss owner/leader/HR job burnout? Imagine trying to figure out how to manage a remote workforce. Hybrid working? Juggling salaries for in-house and out-of-office staff? Trying to figure out if you still need that office coffee system? How to manage a growing freelance workforce?
Have you read about leadership burnout? Can you point me to any data? It is going in my next book in the burnout chapter. Yes, with solutions.
Advertising Agency Job Burnout – Since the 1950s
Job burnout is endemic in the advertising industry (see some history below). I’d even say endemic in most service industries. From the Mayo Clinic:
“Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”
For the entire history of the advertising profession, workplace stress (today’s burnout) has been a health concern and worse largely unaddressed.
Here is a passage from Stephen Fox’s history of advertising, “The Mirror Makers”. He riffs on the 50’s burnout. 1950s!
“A survey of advertisers in 1957 found that nine out of ten ad people routinely took work home at night. “What other business has so many young men anxious to break in,” asked one adman, “and so many older men anxious to break out?”
Wait. This Is Crazy. Even More. Now 1956.
A study in 1956 by Life Extension Examiners of New York compared the health of executives in manufacturing, banking, and advertising. The ad people showed up worst in ten of eighteen categories, including high blood pressure, organic heart and prostate problems, and abnormal blood counts.
From 1949 to 1959, at a time when life expectancy for white males was 67.1 years, the average age at death in Advertising Age’s obituaries was 59.9. “It’s a killing business,” concluded Lou Wasey, seventy-one years old in 1956.
“Most of the men who have been along with me in business – they’re all dead, and they were younger than I.”
Wait for a second… I need to repeat this alarming fact…
“From 1949 to 1959, at a time when life expectancy for white males was 67.1 years, the average age at death in Advertising Age’s obituaries was 59.9.”
Good thing I sold my agency. No more Job Burnout for me.
Advertising is simply a very demanding service business that has gotten much more complex from a time perspective with the proliferation of needy 24/7 digital programs.
I’ll be frank. Other than being ready to move on to my other loves, a key reason I sold was to not have to manage a large crew of creative workers. not easy then and I think way harder today.