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
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
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
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
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
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
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%
Personal finance 33%
Finding a new job 32%
Contract clarification 31%
Maternity rights 19%
Personal and emotional issues 15%
Getting a flatmate/renting a flat 11%
Paternity rights 10%