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Employee wellbeing in creative agencies: three tips to get you started

Paul Hutchings, founder of fox&cat, and new friend, Welfy, a workplace wellbeing training firm, discuss the importance of collaboration

Creative agencies are busy places. As the graph shows (albeit a little dramatised), we often do things at 100mph, 8am-6pm, with overspill either side and not much genuine down time. And our phones are always at the end of our wrists, even at weekends.

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For certain types of people (usually those of us who are attracted to work in creative agencies) this kind of working pattern may feel ok every now and then, but what about long term? And what does it do to us as individuals or employee productivity as a whole?

If left unresolved and unmanaged it can have serious impacts on our workplace wellbeing and our businesses:

Poor mental health carries an economic and social cost of £105 billion a year in England – Public Health England; that’s around £13,500 per person.

As an agency leader you’re a master of problem solving. But this can come at a cost to individual and cultural wellbeing. It’s almost impossible to manage the ebb and flow of pressure while trying to meet ever-evolving client needs, team changes and specialism additions.

So what can you do to better support your teams? And how do you get started?

PRCA recommends you should introduce workplace wellbeing initiatives to help ease the strain. But wellbeing only works if it meets a genuine need, and often in agencies we’re too close to the day-to-day to spot the systemic reasons for pressure. We repeat the same mistakes. That’s where objectivity and the “outsider perspective” can shine a light.

So here at fox&cat we’ve created a new friendship with Welfy. Together, we can help you spot the root cause of, then manage, pHoressure in your creative agency. We want to make your working day look and feel more like this:

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In this article we’ll show you:

  • How we’re stronger together – collaboration is excellent for your business
  • Three practical tips to help you manage employee wellbeing straight away

Stronger together: collaboration could be your best solution

The last couple of years have been particularly hard due to COVID-19 and many businesses have had to adapt to survive. We’ve all had to reshape what we offer as pre-existing agency pressures have combined with the pandemic meaning many employees are now feeling the strain.

This may sound all doom and gloom but actually, there’s a huge opportunity for evolution and growth. We believe workplace wellbeing should remain front and centre for some time yet.

Fox&cat and Welfy can work together, with you, to provide a deep understanding of the pressures affecting your agency and the expertise to deliver proven results.

We always consider the individual in our workplace wellbeing initiatives because the ups and downs of agency life affect us all differently. What one person perceives as a huge pressure (say delivering a pitch) may help another thrive. Our holistic approach teaches the skills we all need to cope alone and as part of agency culture.

Here are three things you can start right now to help yourself, and to share with your team…

Three simple steps to improving your working day, today

1) Set the tone:

We increasingly allow our devices to dictate the first act of our day, setting what is usually an anxious tone. Urgent demands on email, a double-booked calendar, social and news alerts. IDC claims 80% of us are checking our smartphones within 15 minutes of waking. Instead of the daily hijack, choose to take three deep, centering breaths. Try leaving a cup of hot lemon by your bed and drinking it cool in the morning. Think about what your priorities are for the day. Drink a coffee in the garden.

And remind yourself: smartphones make a good servant but a bad master.

2) Design your own day:

Did you know that your personal chronotype impacts what time of day you're the most focused, most creative, most likely to make a mistake, most likely to be in a good—or bad—mood, and much more? Do the assessment yourself, then take a look here and see which type you are.

If you are a lark or a third bird (somewhere in the middle), schedule deep, undisrupted work in the mornings, rest and admin in the post lunch trough and collaboration late afternoon.

If you are an owl, do the exact opposite.

Look out for signs of what chronotypes your team members are too. You’ll get the best out of each other by working with each other’s chronotypes.

Game. Changing.

3) Wind down well:

Does your day wind down gradually or does it come to a crashing close (like in the first graph), rendering you exhausted on the sofa with a cocktail of doom scrolling and Netflix?

Manic days followed by abrupt endings wreak havoc on our nervous systems. Research suggests that living in this state creates chronic stress contributing to high blood pressure, formation of artery-clogging deposits and brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression and addiction.

You deserve better. Give yourself permission to complete the stress cycle of the day by ending work at a consistent time, incorporating some movement and drawing a mental line under it by journaling or simply noting three things you’ve achieved.

What now?

Make no mistake, pressure left unresolved and unmanaged leads only one way – down: mental ill-health for individuals, increased pressure within your teams and cultural ill-health for your agency.

There’s tremendous value in collaborations where everyone has a common interest that’s passion oriented and driven by genuine need. When we work together our outcome is far greater than the sum of the parts. It’s problem solving 101!

Right now, teams need confidence that:

  • Cultural issues in your agency are being addressed
  • You understand these issues and how they affect team member differently
  • You’re brave and forward-thinking enough to solve any issues in collaboration with partners who understand the situation inside out

If you know you need training, please contact us at Welfy directly. But if you’re not sure and need support understanding the root cause of pressure in your creative agency, contact fox&cat. They’ll take you through their adapt process and help you form a plan that includes wellbeing.

28th July 2021



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Employee wellbeing in creative agencies: three tips to get you started
Paul Hutchings, founder of fox&cat, and new friend, Welfy, a workplace wellbeing training firm, discuss the importance of collaboration