From 'sociopathic partners' to 'age discrimination': What's causing adland's morale problem?

We asked respondents to our Second Annual Morale Survey to share the reasons behind their mood. Here's what they said.

Today, Campaign US revealed the results of our Second Annual Morale Survey, which found that 48% of industry employees suffer from low morale—a 34% increase over 2015. As part of the survey, we gave respondents the opportunity to submit their own reasons for feeling good or bad about their jobs. Below are a sampling of those submissions in the respondents' own words.


Some managers try to be very positive; others don't. I work for one who generally does.
Female, Media agency, White/Caucasian, $51,000 - $100,000

The clique formed by those who work on the largest accounts throw their weight around and make work life hard for those they work with.
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $51,000 - $100,000

Culture. Respect for each other and each other's differences, making time to celebrate our success, variety of activities that have us spending time together without focusing on work.
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

Lack of vision/direction at the top. What does success look like? No single north star.
Male, Brand, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

Dynamic in the industry - tech disruption + client pressures = downward pressure on fees, price competition.
Male, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $251,000 - $500,000

THE AMERICAN ADVERTISING INDUSTRY IS RACIST AS FUCK.
Male, Media agency, Black/African American, $51,000 - $100,000

We all just get along and are hard working.
Female, Freelancer, White/Caucasian, Less than $50,000

Knowing that some men who report to me make more money than I do.
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

I am one of the founders/owners and I am really proud of our growth and accomplishments.
Male, Marketing consultancy, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

Sociopathic partners.
Male, Media agency, White/Caucasian, $51,000 - $100,000

Transparency of leadership, company commitment to employees.
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

Expectations grow higher but there are no more hours in the day, and due to client contracts, they expect more for less resources constantly, leaving agencies feeling overworked and underappreciated/underperforming.
Female, Media agency, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

Opportunity to mentor students and encourage them both in their studies and what they can expect in the workplace.
Female, Higher education, White/Caucasian, Less than $50,000

Everything being a bake off versus having ownership. Creative shops love to make things. Not endless talk about making things.
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

A fun environment.
Male, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

Freelancers have their own set of distinct fears and troubles in this industry.
Male, Freelancer, White/Caucasian, Less than $50,000

Room to breathe as in the opposite of operating at 110% with tight deadlines.
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $51,000 - $100,000

Forced to take furlough days.
Female, Media agency, White/Caucasian, $51,000 - $100,000

Having more freedom to work from home. Not feeling bad if you miss a day of work.
Male, Media agency, White/Caucasian, Less than $50,000

High rate of turnover and terminations leading to no sense of security and too few people left to do the work.
Male, Brand, White/Caucasian, $51,000 - $100,000

Respect among all employees, no matter what level/age.
Female, Media agency, White/Caucasian, $51,000 - $100,000

Clients will always be clients. They can be bad, but rarely ever cause the true problems the industry is facing. We are doing it to ourselves. Specifically, the few "rulers" at the top of holding companies and their agencies are doing it to the rest of us. Starting to follow the golden rule of "doing onto others as you'd have done to you" would be a step in the right direction. There's a complete lack of compassion from most in leadership positions. It is completely bizarre. Who raised these people?
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $251,000 - $500,000

Personalities. Good people.
Male, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, Less than $50,000

Poor internal communications, no sense of belonging.
Male, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $251,000 - $500,000

Positive company culture, charitable giving initiatives.
Female, Retailer, White/Caucasian, Less than $50,000

Constant threat of losing job, of being interchangeable.
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

Appreciation/acknowledgement.
Male, Brand, Asian/Pacific Islander, $51,000 - $100,000

Clients are not spending money or planning to spend much money. Our craft is undervalued.
Male, Stock photo agency, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

Winning awards.
Male, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $251,000 - $500,000

Toxic culture, ego driven, boys club.
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

Personally, creative freedom is big for me because I head up the creative team.
Female, Brand, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

At my age, 60, I am still inventing stuff, leading campaigns into all media ... but I would love to go back to big agencies—they are more fun. Age discrimination is even stronger than racial or gender. It is truly automatic.
Male, Freelancer, Hispanic/Latino, $101,000 - $250,000

I work for myself on my own terms. I have control over my clients.
Female, Freelancer, White/Caucasian, Less than $50,000

Leadership hasn't offered marketing solutions that can make staff feel as if they have a real grasp of what the future of the industry is. There's too many people recycling ideas from the 1980's and 1990's in leadership posts.
Male, Creative agency, Black/African American, $101,000 - $250,000

Higher leadership is strong.
Female, Corporation, White/Caucasian, $51,000 - $100,000

Lack of resources to do what really needs to be done. Unrealistic expectations on the role of marketing.
Female, Brand, Black/African American, $101,000 - $250,000

Being challenged.
Male, Media agency, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

Clients constantly cutting budget, asking for more when paying less.
Female, Creative agency, Asian/Pacific Islander, $51,000 - $100,000

Just good people without giant egos. Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $251,000 - $500,000
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $251,000 - $500,000

Less than ideal working conditions as far as building, offices, facilities, etc.
Male, Brand, White/Caucasian, $51,000 - $100,000

Just good people without giant egos.
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $251,000 - $500,000

Almost constant organizational changes are exhausting.
Male, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

Dogs. The office is dog friendly.
Male, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $51,000 - $100,000

Staff is not trained properly.
Female, Full-service agency, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

Level of responsibility.
Male, Creative agency, $251,000 - $500,000

Restructuring.
Male, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

After-hours drinks.
Female, Creative agency, Less than $50,000

Internal dynamics/support.
Female, Publisher, White/Caucasian, $101,000 - $250,000

Proud of the work that is produced.
Female, Brand, $51,000 - $100,000

Discrepancy between job description and actual duties.
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $51,000 - $100,000

Team dynamics.
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $251,000 - $500,000

Holding company relationship.
Male, Digital agency, White/Caucasian, $251,000 - $500,000

Pay and benefits.
Male, Construction, White/Caucasian, Less than $50,000

Job security.
Male, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $51,000 - $100,000

Being an independent agency.
Female, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, Less than $50,000

Rarely pursuing new business.
Male, Creative agency, White/Caucasian, $51,000 - $100,000

Subscribe today for just $116 a year

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.com , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a subscriber

GET YOUR CAMPAIGN DAILY FIX

The latest work, news, advice, comment and analysis, sent to you every day

register free