Dilemma - Should I have to put up with these stressful conditions to work in the media industry?

Quite a few people in my agency have taken stress leave in the past 12 months and I am worried that I might be heading the same way. I work late at least three nights each week and am under increasing pressure to meet unrealistic deadlines. Is this something I have to put up with to work in the media industry? Should I see my GP?

Nicola Jones, joint head of commercial development, IDS

Well done for courageously taking steps to nip your concerns in the bud. If a GP visit will make you feel better, go for it. Another way to get this off your chest would be to speak with your manager or with HR about those pesky deadlines – do they know you feel they are unrealistic? If there are casualties around you, your boss should be especially keen to ensure that you are supported and to lighten your load. If not, is that agency's culture really for you?

If you do like the buzz that working in an agency can offer, it's vital to make sure that you're getting your just rewards and it's also crucial to gain a good work life balance. Are you getting exercise? When did you last book yourself a holiday? Taking small, positive steps towards a better work-life balance will make you feel loads better and give you head space to ponder whether this fabulous industry is for you.

Peter Jennings, senior sales executive, PR Week

Stress isn't isolated to just the media industry – it's more indicative of the pressures of modern life.

However, everybody reacts differently to different pressures – some thrive and some find it difficult to cope. If you're finding things difficult enough to be considering medical help, you definitely need to do something to make things better. But before seeing your GP, you should talk to your boss.

Set up a meeting and tell him how you see the situation with your agency. Just getting things off your chest will probably help, but be sure to be constructive with your criticism. Explain how and why the deadlines you have are unrealistic and the pressure you are under. Show him how things can be improved rather than just listing problems.

Mark White, director of sales, Five

Talk to your boss – it's important to have a healthy dialogue with them to earn honest feedback. If you've got too much on your plate, it's better to tell someone and reach a solution together. If you're working in a good team, you can share the workload.

Some people have a peak at certain times and, by sharing the work around, you get rid of the stress caused.

From a team perspective, volunteer your help to someone else when you have a quiet time.

They can reciprocate the work.

Ensure there's a work balance; if you work late, the department is understaffed or not working as efficiently as it could. Get advice.

Also, make time for fun and banter to relieve the stress of a situation. Make time to go outside and break up the day.

Basically, spread the load and share the problem. If you can't talk to people about the issue, it's an unhealthy culture you're working in.

Your team should recognise when you're under too much pressure and should divert it.

Refer to your GP if the situation's got to a bad stage, but talk to your friends, colleagues, or preferably your boss beforehand.

Remember, nobody ever looks back on their life and says: "I wish I had spent more time at the office."

Rebecca Pepper, director, Results Integration

Have you spoken to your superiors about this? If more than one person has taken stress leave in the past year, then that suggests to me your company needs to look at its approach. If the way it's running things has staff falling ill, then regardless of the moral implications, this impacts on the bottom line of the business.

Secondly, how do you manage your stress?

Some cope with it better than others and there is a range of strategies: exercise, healthy diet, meditation, creative visualisation, deep breathing, affirmations, daily fresh air, having clear goals, saying no to unrealistic demands, seeking solutions that serve you and your agency, sharing your troubles with a friend.

Ask for advice from people in Should I have to put up with these stressful conditions to work in the media industry?

your field who manage their stress effectively; learn what they do and apply some of it.

Tim Smale, founder, Mindworks

The pressure is there in the industry and some people deal with it better than others.

Sometimes chasing an ambition or goal you can't achieve can cause more stress.

I don't think GPs can do much good other than state the obvious (take time off, prescribe medication). But you can change your behaviour very quickly by understanding the causes of stress and dealing with it yourself.

Everyone has a choice.

If getting on in this (or any) business means work overload, politics, long hours, ill health through stress, then one has a choice to make. If the stress is too great, they have to get out of it.

This week's dilemma was compiled by Alice de Picarda


Dilemmas to come

In the past month at work I've been having increasing problems with another account manager on my team, who is becoming extremely difficult to get on with. I believe it's because I was given an account he wanted and felt he should have been given instead of me. It's making our work environment a tense and unpleasant place to be. What should I do to resolve our differences?

I am keen to get into media planning and I've been offered a one-week work experience placement at one of the top-10 media agencies next February.

I’m not sure how beneficial work experience would be. I've heard of people landing jobs through it but is that just a rarity or is it all based on the attitude and work ethic people illustrate in that all-important week?

Send your advice to amanda.lennon@haynet.com.

And if you have a dilemma, we'll try to help solve it. Simply e-mail us and we'll keep your name confidential.

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