Dealing with a Heavy Workload at your Creative Agency

Businesses, including creative agencies, are constantly searching for ways to reduce cost, often downsizing staff to remain competitive and translating into people working longer hours to keep up with production demands. This situation, although sometimes successful in the short term, will usually harm long-term productivity and staff retention due to the increased stress.

If you find this happening at your agency, you first need to analyze the cause of the work overload. Is it because too many people are on vacation at one time? Have you been lucky enough to bring on an unpredicted high level of new accounts? Is it seasonal?

After defining the cause, you will have a better understanding as to whether this is a temporary busy period, or whether steps need to be taken for the long-term health of your business.

Each professional has his/her own limit of time and effort required to execute the work and deliver a quality product, and this also varies from generation to generation. A temporary increase of demand on your people can be a good thing, but continuously overloading your employees will ultimately cause a negative impact on both physical and psychological health.

People usually seek a balance between giving and receiving in their jobs. If they feel that the relationship is uneven or unbalanced between themselves and the agency (i.e. that they are putting in more effort than they are compensated for) it will tend to result in low motivation and a lack of creativity.

Here we present some tips on how to deal with this relationship from two perspectives: agency management and staff person.

Agency Management:

1. Balance the tasks and evaluate whether the resources available are sufficient to perform the work.

2. Set realistic estimates and goals and negotiate terms with clients. Keep the focus on your priorities and always set realistic deadlines.

3. Find ways to optimize your agency workflow processes. Determine the most appropriate ways to perform common tasks and look for effective project management software to help maximize your team’s creative time.

4. Take control of your firm’s workflow with a traffic or project manager who is involved in a project from its onset, through production ensuring that tasks are assigned and completed. To support the traffic manager, it is highly recommended to implement a software system that can be used to open jobs, schedule tasks, allocate resources, enter timesheets and insert events into the agency calendar.

5. Always recognize work well done and ensure that your staff understands how much you appreciate their dedication. Don’t allow 12 hour days to become the norm!

For individual:

1.  Plan your day the night before and review accomplishments at the end of the day. Employees will often take on more tasks than can actually be accomplished in a regular workday in order to try and help the team, but this will not help in the long run.

2. Always ask if you are giving yourself enough time to do the important things. Here lies the importance of scheduling and allocating the right number of hours to your daily activities.

3. Whenever you feel overload, be sure to talk with your boss about the situation, set realistic deadlines and prioritize activities that need to be completed. If it is just you that is overloaded, then the supervisor can better divide the tasks among the team. If your entire agency is overloaded an analysis of the team and workflow must take place.

4. Find ways to alleviate stress. Physical activity is recommended, but do what you really like to give yourself a mental break during the day. This can be taking the dog for a walk, watching video clips, listening to music or whatever.

The importance of managing your workload cannot be understated. It is difficult to run a profitable agency that places importance on the creative process if not enough importance is placed on scheduling, resource planning, and workflow management. Help yourself and your agency avoid unexpected work overload and make sure your staff understands that the company cares.

Please leave your comments and share your ideas about how to deal with heavy workloads.


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