Practice ‘Design Thinking’ Now to Avoid Employee Burnout Later

Sure, senior denizens of the PR and ad agency sectors are cocktail-party compliant when it comes to kibitzing about all the work bearing down on the firm and describing how they fear that their most valuable employees may burnout.

Then they go back to the shop the next morning and continue assigning too much work to BURNOUT IMAGEtoo few employees already taxed by too many emails, too many tweets and too many clients.

It’s a vicious cycle, but what to do if clients want the specs ten minutes ago?

There are myriad solutions for PR and ad agency owners, according to a must-read article that ran last week on

Perhaps half the battle is shift your mindset regarding labor and stop grinding your employees into dust.

The article refers new survey by Deloitte, which polled 7,000 human-resources professionals from 100+ countries. According to Deloitte, 65 percent of respondents said they were concerned that their organizations were too bureaucratic and complicated. And yet, only 18 percent of those professionals said they were actively helping employees to deal with information overload at work.

Josh Bersin, the founder of Bersin by Deloitte, an HR-research arm of Deloitte, told the that companies interested in combating the problem have been turning to what’s called “design thinking”—a problem-solving method based on observing how workers go about their days, instead of how employers want them to go about their days.

That’s not unlike how marketers and PR pros these days need to change their strategic tune.

To wit, instead of giving customers and prospects what marketers think they want, marketers need to take the pulse of their customers and prospects to find out what they really want.

Same deal with employees who feel overwhelmed by digital communications and too many work hours.

“Instead of just taking a bunch of content and trying to figure out how to train people,” Bersin told, “they turned the problem around and said, ‘Let’s watch people at work and see what the issues are.’”

The article said that GE, for example, has tried to let employees simplify their workdays by giving them the power to skip meetings as they see fit.

Such a move could be considered heresy at some agencies. Skip meetings? The horror! But whether it’s cutting down on the number of meetings executives attend, creating more flexible hours or encouraging more unorthodox ways of punching in (and out), something’s go to give.

What are you doing at your agency to make the work load more manageable for your employees and/or freelancers?