Keeping your team sane

Prioritizing Mental Health in the Advertising Industry

September 8, 2022

It starts with setting priorities.

For the past two years, I’ve been keeping notes on what’s been helpful for me and my team members to “stay sane” while working during a pandemic. Working full-time, being a mom, taking on a national-level volunteer leadership role…. it’s, a lot. Yet somehow over the past two years, I’ve managed more than ever to focus on my mental health and made that a priority (probably mostly due to the encouragement of my therapist). 

I decided to compile my notes into a topic called “Keeping Your Team Sane” because I found the more I talked about my mental health with colleagues in our industry, the more I discovered we all have similar stories. We were all looking for ways to recharge so we wouldn’t keep working until we felt like we hit a wall going 100mph (spoiler alert: we’re trying to avoid that). The advertising industry was already known for long hours and burning out employees, but during the pandemic…suddenly it felt non-stop.

Instead of return to normal, let’s return to better.

Prior to the pandemic, we normalized working long hours, turning fast deadlines and always saying yes. Then the pandemic hit, and we shifted into an even higher gear. Not only were we continuing to hold ourselves to the same work standards, we now also had to juggle home life with kids and partners and roommates and dogs all at the same time. What once was a “work day” became “everything day” and our clients and coworkers entered into this space with us.

Now that we’ve moved from pandemic to endemic, it’s time to return to better. Let’s redefine what normal means. A return to better for your company looks like:

Increased flexibility

Ability to focus

Better time management

Higher productivity

More efficient meetings

And you know what? You are in control of your calendar. Plan your workdays by not only scheduling time for meetings, but also scheduling the time you need to think, the time you need to get the work done and honestly, the time you need to reflect before switching gears to the next thing on your to-do list.

Be an advocate for change. The truth is, happy employees equals better work, which equals happier clients. And after what we’ve all been through, don’t we deserve to all be happier?

Lead by example.

Even while I’m in the midst of figuring out ways to keep my own team sane, it is easy to fall back into old habits. We are a deadline-driven business. You have to realize as a leader, you constantly need to think about the expectations that you’re setting.

For example, our team was working to meet a deadline recently and I found myself emailing the team late at night, and of course, they responded — because that’s what they thought that’s what I was expecting of them. During an internal meeting the next week, it was brought up that I’ve been emailing late a lot lately and it was my “wow” moment because I caught myself breaking my own rules. Having a team that feels comfortable enough to talk about these types of issues opened the door to help me reset and avoid the behavior in the future. Also — none of us are perfect. So cut yourself some slack. And, as a side note — if you working long hours, yet you want to respect your team and their time, use the delayed delivery option on your email. It’s life-changing — for everyone.

Interested in having me speak at your club or organization?

I’m open to sharing my thoughts and tips that have worked for me. Share ideas that were given to me by others in the field. Remind people in our industry it’s okay to take a break, it’s okay to recharge and it’s ok to set boundaries. Let’s discuss why and how our industry can learn from the positives that came out of the past two years, and return to, not normal, but better. Feel free to send me a direct message on LinkedIn to connect!

Chernoff Newman has deep category experience in agriculture, food and beverage, education and workforce development, energy, economic development, financial/insurance, healthcare and infrastructure. We design integrated marketing and strategic communications that are impactful, thought-provoking and influential. We marry ingenuity with business know-how to influence beliefs and behaviors for brands, companies and their many stakeholders. We influence attitude and inclination. We influence opinion and outcomes. And when needed, we also influence to quell contention.