Marketing is an industry that requires a mix of creative and analytical minds. People have to understand what hard data means, and then transform that into a creative solution for a problem.
Yet, many creatives — including writers and designers — do their best work under very specific circumstances. Too much pressure, and some creatives flop. Others need the ability to chat and collaborate freely with their coworkers, while others like to hide away in isolation while working.
If you want to get the best work out of your creative marketers, you need to establish the right work culture for them. That includes creating the right work environment, establishing policies that encourage creativity, and giving them perks that help prevent creative burnout.
Identifying What Your Team Needs
Don’t just assume you know what makes your marketing team effective. Along those same lines, don’t just accept what online articles about work culture have to say either. Every single person requires different conditions to do their best creative work. Your first step is to identify what kinds of conditions your employees want or need.
Start by just observing their current work habits and how they interact with your current environment/culture.
What do your employees do while working? Analyze their work habits and see if there is a way you can help. Maybe some employees hate outside noise or conversations, so they put headphones on to block the noise. What are they doing during breaks? Are they taking walks for every single break because they need to get outside of the office? Chatting with coworkers over a cup of coffee? Grabbing a snack? Playing games on their phone?
Once you feel like you have a decent idea of what employees do currently, survey them for what they would want changed. These responses could be eye opening to problems in your current culture or barriers they want removed. Take the responses with a grain of salt though. Many employees might think they would like a specific perk, but it might not help productivity or creativity at all, and could even hurt it.
Creating the Right Office Environment
Having the right office environment can make a massive difference to how your employees work. The trick to it is finding the right balance between what all of your employees want. Some might prefer isolation from others while working, while others do their best work while around coworkers.
A good place to start though is making your office nicer and more professional. Depending on your lease and budget, do your best to improve where your employees spend most of their day. Even on a strict budget, you could do a lot to improve your office space, just like a home remodel. Rip out old carpet and replace it with hardwood, get employees to volunteer time to help do the labor, and decorate the office to look nice. When employees like their surroundings, they’ll do better work.
A good work environment is more than making it look good, though. You’ll need to determine whether you want to pursue an open floor plan, having more enclosed areas, or both. One solution, if you have the space, is making smaller areas in the office with different designs. One area could be full of couches and comfy chairs, another with cubicles for isolationists, and open desks for those who want them. Just because they are creative doesn’t mean they want an open design. Find what actually works for them or provide options.
Preventing Burnout, Encouraging Creativity
Your workplace’s marketing culture needs to focus on providing your marketers what they need to stay creative and successful. Especially if your employees have to pump out large amount of content or are under a lot of pressure consistently, find ways to help prevent burnout.
Consider allowing extra or longer breaks, providing treats or free food, encouraging employees to take walks or some other form of recreation to clear their minds and give their brains a break. If there is an activity your employees love, like ping pong, video games, or sports, put something in the break room that lets them relax how they want to.
Preventing burnout is more than just making the office fun, it’s also being aware of what causes burnout in your employees and putting up policies to prevent it. For some, burnout happens when doing the same task day after day, and for others it happens after working on a big project with long hours. Create company or department policies that give employees an option to avoid burnout. Give employees the flexibility they need to prevent burning out.
Perks They Need
If you’re looking to hire and keep highly creative workers, a lot of that comes down to perks. Popular perks today include being able to work remotely, flexible work schedules, extra time off, and extra incentives to doing exceptional work.
Just be aware that with every perk you provide, there might be a downside. For example, if your employees want to bring their dogs to work, others might dislike it because they are allergic. Many sources show that dogs can help increase productivity at work (a worthwhile benefit) but those with allergies either won’t want to be in the office, or you’ll need to find a solution to the allergies. That could include a separate, dog free room, or paying for air filters and vacuums that help prevent the hair and dander from bothering those who are allergic.
With every perk you want to pursue, you’ll need conditions, company policies, and a trial period. If a perk isn’t working as intended, don’t continue to pursue it. For example, if you introduce working from home, but then you find the quality of work starts to suffer, take it away. Make employees prove the perk is worth having, or that they can handle having the perk alongside normal work.
Managers Who Understand Their Employees
Nothing is worse than a manager or boss who doesn’t understand their employees. They play a huge role in company culture and, especially in a creative position, can make or break a person’s creativity.
Whoever is managing your creative marketers needs to understand each of their creative processes and what they need. Then, those managers need to advocate for their employees to make sure they get what they need. One employee might need extra supervision to keep them focused on working, while another flourishes with little oversight and struggles if they feel like their manager is constantly watching.
When it comes to creating the right culture for creatives, there is not perfect answer. Each creative marketer has their own process to working, and the best approach is being flexible. Give employees options so they can choose the culture and environment that best works for them. That includes how they are managed, where they do the work, and how they prevent burning out.