Reversing the “always on work culture” isn’t just good for your health, it can give you a competitive edge on the job.

Burnout is usually a silent issue. While conversations around mental health in the workplace are beginning to happen, tackling workload overload can be a major challenge in the “always on work culture” of PR.

Years ago, I experienced burnout on the job. A combination of things – poor culture and endless workload – led to frustration, loss of motivation and operating in survival mode. It got so bad that I thought that I didn’t love PR anymore. I almost quit the industry, an industry I originally loved. Sadly, I’m not the only one who has felt this way.

Being in a state of burnout is incredibly difficult for PR pros who are often driven, “type A” professionals. The fact is, burnout isn’t a reflection of your dedication, talent or drive – it’s a reflection of poor management of day-to-day operations.

 PR has become an industry where pros are expected to work around the clock and to never say no to a deadline. The PR industry is characterized by:

  • Around the clock access,

  • 24/7 social media and media monitoring,

  • tight, unreasonable deadlines,

  • responding to shifting corporate priorities,

  • issues and crisis management, and

  • and reacting to the unfortunate truth that communications and PR is often an afterthought.

These are just some of the reasons why PR pros are under persistent, unrelenting pressure whether they work at an agency, or in house.

Burnout stress can affect your productivity at work, your creativity, your mental health, your physical health and your family life. It takes a serious toll and if left unchecked can have devastating consequences.

While there are aspects of PR work that will ultimately lead to some after hours work, the fact is: burnout can be prevented. At the end of the day, we all deserve self care and to benefit from feeling recharged. Long hours and drained employees actually decrease productivity and the quality of work being produced.

Managers and agencies can help prevent employee burnout by creating positive and open work environments where employees feel empowered to speak up. It’s important to check in with your team and ask how they are managing. It’s just as important to manage client expectations and negotiate deadlines that are a win for all parties. My team only works with clients that we believe in and know we will have a good working relationship with. I always try to work with my team to ensure I understand how I can best help them achieve our goals. 

Employees can prevent burnout by being honest about their workload and balancing work priorities with their personal goals. It’s important to prioritize your wellbeing, whether that’s through fitness, friends or family goals. If you are flexible with your schedule, it is possible to fit in a workout or lunch with a friend, even if that means responding to a client call a bit later in the day. It isn’t healthy to work around the clock, and you will be a less productive employee for it.

Have you experienced burnout in the PR industry? Share your experience with me in the comments below.