CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/NABS MONITOR - NABS shows stress is the industry's top concern. From work-related stress to training, Carol Reay reports on this year's NABS results

If truth be told, most people are fascinated by themselves. I

happen to believe that an individual truth such as this tends to apply

on a collective basis as well. The communications business is one such

collective and it loves to be absorbed with details about itself.

Witness the way advertising folk devour Campaign even before their

breakfasts on a Thursday. Yet there is still only one survey that seeks

to take the temperature of individuals in the business and that is the

NABS/Campaign Monitor. We hear plenty about what the corporations are up

to but this survey seeks the opinions of individuals: what are your

concerns, hopes and observations?



This is the third year for the NABS Monitor and responses were way up on

last year.



One issue has emerged as the industry's most serious concern this year -

work-related stress. A massive 88 per cent of you connected the stresses

of working in the business with real health issues. Clearly, stress is

biting deep. Three years ago, Andrew Cracknell highlighted a huge

frustration with 'presenteeism'. That's the business of starting early

and finishing late regardless of the actual demands of the job. We were

inevitably heading in a stressed-out direction even then.



You were wonderfully articulate on the causes of this stress (see table)

- long working hours top the list but the picture is more complex. Heavy

workloads, lean and mean staffing levels and a pervading sense of lack

of job security are other contributory factors.



It's a short hop to get to another pressing issue the Monitor asked you

to address this year: how best to make people feel valued in the

workplace.



This has enabled us to publish a people's top ten of ways to add value

to working lives (see table) - it reads like a summary of modern good

management practice. This is of particular interest to me personally

because recently I have had a bird's eye view of the biggest employer in

the land - the NHS. I was shocked to find a world of flexible and

experimental approaches that try to fit the job around the person.



All this gels with last year's report too. Jeremy Bullmore told us then

that an area of concern was the old chestnut of not enough women in

senior positions. It doesn't take a professor of psychology to make a

connection between lack of flexible working opportunities and a lack of

women. I am a case in point as my step aside has gained me some much

longed for time with my small children.



You gave us feedback on barriers to career progression which 36 per cent

of you claimed to have experienced. You cite 'lacking in correct skills'

as the major culprit.



Strangely enough, last year there was talk of ageism in the survey but

this year almost as many people cited 'being too young' as a block to

getting on.



What of the people taking part in this year's Monitor? The profile of

respondents was younger than ever before with 66 per cent under 35.

There was a terrific spread across all the disciplines. Ad agencies

accounted for 33 per cent of responses (compared with 57 per cent last

year). The big growth came from media agencies, which accounted for 32

per cent.



We also had responses from PR, new media, consultancy, sales promotion

and media owners.



We asked about interest in NABS's own training offer, Fast Forward. This

takes the form of a series of seminars that bring young people across

the disciplines together. These have been a great success and the

majority of you expressed interest.



And what of the two sponsors of the Monitor, NABS and Campaign? You were

prompted about how NABS could help give independent advice to

individuals in the industry. Training topped the bill here too,

especially for under- 35-year-olds. The top ten topics you want NABS to

cover are listed in the bottom table. In fact, NABS already covers most

of these and is actively considering the remainder.



We must raise awareness of just how much NABS does to help the

individual.



Only 26 per cent of you thought that it was relevant to you now,

although 37 per cent feel it may be relevant to you in the future. In

that case it's a banker for the future and deserves support.



And Campaign? Eighty per cent of you have weekly access to it. You read

it for news, gossip, information, account moves, Private View, industry

developments, people moves and good old job ads. And what would you

change about the magazine? Not much, according to 41 per cent of you.

But those who would dabble would lose a slug of, 'self-glorification and

self-centred journalism', make it less London-centric, have fairer

agency reviews and make the stories more reliable. All I'll say here is

one man's fair is another man's load of b******s. But Campaign doesn't

need me to defend it.



All in all, though, it's stress that stands out as the major issue this

year. It is clearly a serious concern.



Taking part in the Monitor helps us develop NABS in ways that are

relevant to you and gives a rare insight into the assets of the business

- the people. If you did participate, thank you. If you didn't, then

have your say next time. For more information about NABS and Fast

Forward, contact Charlotte Dyball at NABS on (020) 7299 2888.



TOP CAUSES OF STRESS

Long working hours 64% Pressure 22%

Heavy workloads 13%

Relationship management 10%

TOP TEN WAYS TO ADD VALUE TO PEOPLE'S WORKING LIVES

Training 37%

Extra holiday time 36%

More praise and encouragement from line manager 34%

Opportunity to take career break/sabbatical 34%

Share options 29%

Overtime pay 28%

Chance to work in company offices abroad 26%

Time for self-development 26%

Company pension 26%

More fun! 25%

TOP TEN AREAS FOR NABS TO OFFER INDEPENDENT ADVICE

Employment law 48%

Training 40%

Personal finance 33%

Finding a new job 32%

Contract clarification 31%

Redundancy 21%

Maternity rights 19%

Personal and emotional issues 15%

Getting a flatmate/renting a flat 11%

Paternity rights 10%



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