Improve the way you evaluate and manage your creative team’s workload
Jodie Byass — Wednesday the 11th of September, 2019Tweet
It’s not uncommon for project work to ebb and flow. During peak periods which could be seasonal your creative team will be under more pressure to increase their output. However, when teams are consistently battling high-pressure workloads it can lead to resentment, stress, even burnout. We recently detailed the incident of creative burnout and provided some advice on how to avoid it.
If your team is constantly struggling to produce work because of too many competing deadlines, it’s time to review your resourcing strategy. First up, you need to evaluate why this is happening.
Why is your creative team’s workload unmanageable?
If we discount seasonal factors, there could be any number of reasons:
- Account Services are always negotiating faster turnarounds resulting in a permanent glut of work.
- A critical team member who resigned has not yet been replaced.
- Your budget for freelancers has been reduced or eliminated.
- Your approval workflow processes are ad hoc, creating more work for your team.
- You don’t have the right tools to adequately resource and manage your projects.
Ways to remedy high-pressure workloads
Once you’ve highlighted where the issues lie (which could be a mix of factors), it’s time to implement some changes to ensure your creative team has a workload they can manage. Happy workers are more productive workers!
1. Ensure that Account Services are providing clients with realistic timelines.
While clients might be happier with faster turnarounds, this is not a great long-term solution if it means overburdening your resources. In fact, research has found that overworking professionals isn’t leading to greater productivity.
According to research undertaken by Sage People , “Overworking is not solving the global productivity crisis. Despite people spending longer at work, it isn’t getting more done.”
When workers have too much on their plate, they’re also less likely to produce their best work and more likely to make mistakes. In the long term, getting Account Services to set realistic timelines will be in your clients’ favour as well as your own.
2. If a team member resigns, it’s in everybody’s interest to replace them as soon as possible.
As a cost-cutting exercise, a team member resigns and new talent isn’t recruited. It does happen. But where does the workload go? It’s re-allocated to an already existing resource. And while this works as an interim solution during the recruitment process, giving a fulltime workload to one person, or even splitting between two, is eventually going to impinge on deadlines as well as cause undue stress to your team.
3. Review your approval workflow for optimum productivity.
Poor briefing, unnecessary stakeholders, bottlenecks and high artwork revisions are just some of the symptoms of an ineffectual approval workflow process.
According to a Content Marketing Institute survey: “92% confessed to being victims of the review and approval phase. One in five revealed that tangled review and approval processes regularly delayed their projects by over a week.”
If your team’s productivity is thwarted by a clunky approval process, it’s time to review it and create one that works. Be sure to read our tips on refining your approval workflow.
4. If your tools are slowing your team down, consider implementing agency resource management software.
Agency resource management software gives you the transparency and tools to schedule your resources more accurately. It also has a workload metre so that you can measure how much work is being allocated to each resource. When a resource reaches 100% capacity, then no other tasks can be allocated. A system like this can also provide tools for your team to better manage their workload. For example, approval workflow management can streamline the approval process by mapping out designated pathways and stakeholders. Automated reminders eliminate the need for your team to forever be chasing approvals. Lengthy email approvals are obsolete with a robust feedback feature. Feedback is also batched so that your designers aren’t forever making changes as they dribble in taking their focus off other work.
5. Make a compelling case for more resources.
When all is said and done, sometimes it just comes down to the fact that your creative team requires more resources to produce the work that’s required of them. This might be in the form of a permanent staff member, contractor or freelancer. What you need to demonstrate to your manager is how a lack of resources is actually costing your ad agency money. It could be a combination of factors such as regularly missing deadlines, high artwork revisions due to mistakes, stalled approvals because your team is so busy they forget to follow them up, and increased staff sick days because of more stress. If budget constraints absolutely rule out extra resources, then speak to your manager to see if some deadlines can be renegotiated.
Overall, it’s important to acknowledge that your creative team is the heart of your operations. Take care of them and all will be well.
Reading our Guide to Managing Marketing Resources with MRM Software might be a good place to start.