Anurag Chaudhary, Founder & CEO, The Integrity Webs

Anurag Chaudhary, who initially started his career to become a CA, ended up being an entrepreneur of his firm ‘The Integrity Webs’ that provides Digital Solutions for Businesses. Back in 2015, when Digital India was initiated, there was a spike in the Digital Marketing Industry as well since many brands used the online platform to promote their businesses. Anurag foresaw that this industry will have a bright future in the coming years. Thus, in 2017, he incorporated The Integrity Webs with just four employees serving his clients for Digital Marketing and Website Development. Today within three years, there are more than 25 employees associated with them, who have served more than 30 clients from India and the US. He has also expanded his services that include SEO, SEM/PPC, CRO, Content Marketing, Website Design/Development, Graphic designing, Public Relations, and other Branding Services.

The lifestyle in 2020, as a year, has been constantly defined as ‘the new normal’ but struggle for employees, whether they are working from home or returning to offices has been majorly impacted by the pandemic. To add to it, the stress of layoffs is an everyday hustle for them.

The Advertising Industry has always been about excelling in this ‘Art of Hustle’. Agency employees are regularly asked to ensure that they have a “side hustle” on their resumes, which they can point to as proof that they can go beyond and beyond. In 2020, Ad agencies have referred to “hustle” as one of the qualities they are looking for, especially in more junior staff.

Advertising agencies in general are unique because they operate in a time-based manner. You’re valued at agencies by how many hours you’re billing, and you’re working more hours than you do. So you’ve got to show it off and make sure people know that you’re working hard and working constantly.

Anyone who has worked on their part in an essential client project knows, a lot of personal involvement is made in what goes on to get input and sign up. And if the feedback isn’t what you expected, it can feel like a knife in your heart. It’s a difficult lesson to learn, particularly when you’re just starting (though it’s probably never going to be easier).

In a creative field, we always assume that we can do a better job than the last person managed to do, so we end up in circumstances that work tirelessly to justify ourselves, in a process that decreases the value that we deliver or undermines the previous efforts of our peers.

Mastering this ‘Art of Hustle’ is a constant pressure for employees in the advertising industry. This paves the way for employee burnout because of work-life stress, which is referred to as ‘Hustle’ in the advertising industry. Feelings of energy loss or weariness increased mental distance from one’s work or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s employment, and diminished professional effectiveness are all signs of employee burnout. To add to, its effect on one’s personal life and relationships.

Confirming what most of us already know, the burnout of employees is a real thing. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized burnout as an official medical diagnosis and identified signs of burnout among employees. According to the WHO: “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Sheltering in one place throughout the day has also disrupted people’s daily lives, causing inherently stressful changes, particularly when combined with uncertainty about one’s health, job security, and economy. Add to that the emotional burden of social distance, which holds people away from recreational activities that they rely on to communicate with
people.

How do we find a remedy to this?

Employers have the ability and the duty to understand that their conventional approaches to helping workers handle stress have been far from effective — as shown by the pre-pandemic incidence of stress and burn-out — and that sticking to the same unsuccessful approaches in today’s more dynamic world would be completely short-lived. It is no longer enough to subsidize gym memberships or host a monthly lunch-and-learn session and say that you are helping workers achieve a work-life balance.

We need to emphasize the development of communities that see and acknowledge the challenges of our workers and that appreciate and support mental health. Employers need to prioritize building resilience through holistic well-being and delivering incentives that genuinely help workers navigate their lives and solve the ever-evolving root causes of burnout. Employees need to be empowered with tools that allow them to personalize self-care to accomplish whatever their well-being means.

The truth is, we’re not going to return to the recognizable patterns any time soon. Our habits will likely change again. The reality is that we don’t know, what is required to be ready for the uncertain future state as well as this “new standard,” thus making a difference for workers today. From my point of view, leaders must:

● Listen and understand. Understand the opportunities and challenges behind the realities of today’s workforce and, more importantly, how they affect the workforce.

● Create actionable strategies. Assemble the right people to decide what you should do in an operational, cultural, and profitable way to make a positive difference in employees’ everyday lives.

● Follow-through. Let workers know that you are mindful of their needs and committed to helping them and protecting their health and well-being. Implement improvements and create a consistent feedback loop with the workforce. Measure the performance and hold it up.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 did not only ignite a flame. It lit a flame that indicated the need for employees to obtain new forms of social and cultural support within the workplace. It’s never been more important to meet the employees where they are — whether this means having more flexibility in working hours, restoring the workforce’s well-being program, de-stigmatizing on-demand digital benefits, increasing your diversity and inclusion policies, avoiding back-to-back meetings, understanding child care stresses, and asking employees to take regular breaks or train managers to have tough discussions.

Truth is that this is technically easy to chart, but the practicalities are always motivated by the quest of top and bottom lines.
However, we’ve got to start somewhere. Businesses must build an atmosphere in which workers know that they can say ‘no’ to long hours, take their annual leave and also ensure that there are outlets in which they can ascend without fear of repercussions.

Open dialogues with clients and industry bodies on the identification and management of these issues also need to be identified. This
is a systemic problem that cannot be addressed in a short time and without the attention of all the parties concerned.

The fast-paced advertising industry can never come to a still but the employers should prove that they care. This can help put the employee in a better place to get in contact with people. In this process, they can prevent the employees from burning out and, most importantly, make their lives easier.

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