Agencies have 'healthier' cultures than brand-side marketing teams, study finds

The Creative Industries Culture Index was devised by Brands with Values and run in partnership with Oystercatchers and Campaign.

Agencies have 'healthier' cultures than brand-side marketing teams, study finds

Agency professionals have a better working culture than brand-side marketers while a desire for honesty, success and independence are shared by staff at all levels, according to in-depth industry survey.

The Creative Industries Culture Index was devised by business performance consultancy Brands with Values with the aim of exploring the desires, observations and motivations of agency staff and marketers. It was run in partnership with Oystercatchers and Campaign.

The index was based on the principles of Brands with Values’ Culture Decoder, a diagnostic tool designed to improve commercial performance by delving into an organisation's culture. This was deployed across a range of sectors – including finance, professional services, education, government and travel – covering tens of thousands of UK employees and enabling researchers to create a benchmark for a healthy culture.

The benchmark score for a healthy culture was calculated as 20% or under, anything above was deemed unhealthy.

Overall, agency and in-house professionals gained a "health score" of 19%. However, when the two were separated, the agencies scored 15% while brand-side marketers’ culture rating was an unhealthy 32%.

"Limiting sentiments" cited by in-housers were siloed working, hierarchy, short-term focus and bureaucracy.

However, the results paint a picture of an industry with shared values across all levels of seniority. "Honesty", "success" and "independence" were the most popular desired sentiments expressed by respondents. This was in contrast to other industries, where the values of senior management contrasted sharply with those of more junior staff.

Jude Bridge, managing partner at Oystercatchers, said it was interesting to see that success was allied with values of community. "We should not underestimate the power of shared values to accelerate growth," she noted.

Other key findings:

  • Filtering the data across ethnicity showed that respondents identifying as African/Caribbean/Black British and Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups rated their work culture as unhealthy (23% and 25% respectively) compared with Asian groups at 17% and White/Caucasian at 18%.
  • Men enjoyed a culture health score of 15% while women came in at 21%, suggesting that women have a less positive experience at work than their male counterparts.
  • Senior managers appear to be feeling the squeeze. While chief executives, directors, middle managers and junior members of staff all scored "healthy" ratings, senior managers were above the benchmark at 25%. Limiting sentiments cited by them included "short-term focus" and "poor planning".
  • At agencies, account management was the "healthiest" department at 15%. Creatives were bang on the benchmark at 20% but planning and marketing were above (21% and 26% respectively).

The survey probed respondents on their personal values, the values they desire for their workplace and the values they actually observed at work. The more the personal and desired values of respondents were reflected in what they see at work, the healthier the work culture.

The data shows that the industry wants its personal values reflected in its work because "creativity", "teamwork" and "being human" are all sentiments that cut across personal and desired values.

Despite being a popular desired value, "selflessness" (covering sentiments such as equality and purpose) was observed less in the workplace, suggesting that there is room to improve in this area.

A split across seniority levels was also found in the rating of social responsibility, which was named as the number one concern for junior staff while chief executives and directors put this sentiment in sixth place.

Adrian Walcott, the director of Brands with Values, said: "The Creative Industry Culture Index has demonstrated that as humans first there is more that connects than divides us. And these connectors are visible every day in the workplace, supported by a united view of the industry they want to work in, in the future.

"Regardless of orientation or seniority, creative industry folks are connected by shared values. These values show up in their places of work, which are healthy overall and are supported by an aligned view of the future around selflessness, greater inclusion and drive towards social purpose."

These issues will be discussed tomorrow (28 January) at the Oystercatchers Club event.

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