May 22, 2022

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4 sustainability strategies to preserve marketing’s emotional environment


The pandemic has further strained mental health while upending how we think about the role of work in our lives. The New York Times recently reported that millennials are having a hard time managing Gen Zers, who are quick to prioritize their well-being over work.

Given that the advertising industry provides extraordinary opportunities to young people and invests in youth culture, it is in a unique position to address emotional sustainability. Here are four ways we can work to improve emotional sustainability:

Listen more

When we begin communications with effective listening, it is far more effective. We’ve found that when we listen more and ask the staff how they feel and how they are interpreting our actions, we learn a lot more than if we lead with talking. People want to be heard. They want to know that their leaders are listening and genuinely care what they have to say. Sometimes it’s easy for the staff to tell us what they think. Other times, they’d prefer to be anonymous, so we’ve created several anonymous feedback tools that have been very effective. 

Talk it out

Staffers can sometimes stew over unintentional slights from management. If the culture doesn’t allow for airing these grievances in a safe way, these kinds of resentments become an organization’s cancer and corrupt its culture. Managers and teams must become better at talking out issues. These dialogues can’t happen only in company-wide meetings. They need to happen in the halls, in small groups, within teams and during frequent one-to-one check-ins that should be part of a manager’s daily routine. 

Be open to alternative points of views

The more an organization listens and talks, the more likely alternative points of views will surface. Everyone brings their own experiences to problem solving, so people of different backgrounds, seniority and tenure will inevitably uncover different ways to solve the same problem. If staff always see their ideas dismissed in favor of those of management without thoughtful consideration, then trust and openness will suffer. People want their ideas to be considered and evaluated fairly, which can take time. 

Encourage talk therapy

There are lots of outside resources available to help improve and protect our emotional sustainability. One of the best resources is talk therapy—or psychotherapy. We should encourage staffers to seek outside help if their emotional well-being can’t be safeguarded by the organization. The more we talk about outside resources the less stigmatized they become, and the more the entire organization will benefit from staffers who are getting the emotional tune-ups they need.

Advertising and marketing have directly contributed to our collective emotional environment. The messages we put out into the market and the algorithms we deploy to optimize our media buys directly impact emotional sustainability.

Committing to a messaging strategy that makes consumers feel better about themselves is an important factor in protecting their well-being. Creating organizations that support emotional sustainability is another. Since we know and study the impact of our culture on our emotional well-being, we can begin to protect ourselves in our workplaces, where we spend most of our time. 

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