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Study shows PR and media agency workers suffer from post-Covid burnout

Market research conducted for coaching firm PUSH Mind and Body, along with our own anecdotal evidence, shows increasing numbers of media/marketing/advertising/PR and sales agencies are now grappling with burnout amongst their workforce. We have recorded a 36% rise in PR and other creative agency clients calling on our services since the start of the pandemic.

Anxiety about returning to the office

A YouGov survey on mental wellbeing in the workplace, conducted on our behalf before social distancing restrictions were relaxed across the UK, also showed that nearly half of media agency workers (46%) felt anxious about returning to the office after working from home. The survey suggested a key stress contributors included the pitching process, and its associated high stakes; long hours; and intensity of work.

Key statistics

  • 6% of media agency staff worked from home pre-pandemic
  • 46% felt anxious returning to the office when social restrictions were lifted
  • 59% want to avoid a full return to office working
  • 74% believe their employer will support blended or home working

Pre-pandemic only 6% of media agency staff worked from home, but now six out of ten (59%) say they don’t want to go back to the workplace full-time citing mental health benefits of home-working. A clear majority (74%) of workers also believe their employer would support such a move towards blended working.

Better prospects out of home

Despite this shift in employee attitudes towards home-working, 42% of those surveyed also believe that returning to the office would increase the chances of promotion suggesting that a hybrid working model is likely to emerge for many PR and creative agency professionals.

We know from our direct experience across the business community that Covid has been detrimental to many employees’ mental health. It’s therefore not surprising that we’ve seen a rise of more than a third in the number of agencies asking for upskilling in management behaviours, one of the key solutions to supporting staff who are feeling burnt out.

The Great Resignation

The pandemic also resulted in the ‘Great Resignation’ across a number of sectors, including media agencies, with businesses now putting a greater focus on the wellbeing of their people in an attempt to stem the loss of talent.

As the work we do with media agencies and clients across other sectors has highlighted, mental health sits at the foundation of everything. Workplaces are more likely to thrive when they’re psychologically safe and able to support employees within the new working environment.

With our post-Covid survey showing significant numbers of employees now keen to avoid a return to full-time office working, it will be essential for companies to ensure they invest in making this a positive environment. This will benefit their people as well as their business.


These findings are part of an online YouGov survey across several key UK industry sectors involving a total sample size was 3037 adults, including 275 who work within the media/marketing/advertising/PR and sales sector. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th - 16th April 2021.

The research features 10 questions about wellbeing and mental health which PUSH uses as part of its audit survey to enable it to tailor bespoke programmes for its clients. The figures have been weighted and are representative of British business size.

Written by Emma Fernandes, managing director at PUSH Mind and Body

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