Disclaimer: The following opinion is penned by the author. She asked generative AI for help but was put off by the boring response.
‘Burnout’ and searches about it are at an all-time high. The hashtag on TikTok has over three billion mentions. Research conducted by Workplace Intelligence indicates that half of the global workforce is either exhausted or stressed. It is now a recognised medical condition and companies have started to take it more seriously. Within social media advertising, specifically, keeping up with macro and micro trends, cultural shifts, reactive opportunities, new channels, and new formats in a 24/7 manner weighs heavily on the teams’ physical and mental capacity. Work got fast, real fast, and we just simply can’t keep up.
So, rather than writing another opinion on how AI is going to destroy the world and take our jobs, I am here to argue how we really should be embracing it as a core productivity tool to save us from algorithmic burnout. There is nothing that makes me more angry than repeating the same, or very similar tasks, manually when part of it can and should be automated. And yet, with the emergence of usable AI in the past few months, little has been said about how it actually can help our roles, especially in account management.
Recently, the World Economic Forum released an article about the positive effects of a four-day workweek and there have been ongoing discussions on its feasibility in adland. Whilst such trials have yet to happen globally, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, the US, and the UK have trialed a four-day workweek either at a company level (Microsoft Japan) or at a state/city level (Valencia, Spain). Regardless of location, productivity and happiness levels improved, and people reported less burnout and stress.
I am not advocating for less work, I am advocating for less uninspiring work that machines can do better and cheaper in order to set the workforce free and get them back to doing the things machines can’t do—building trusted relationships, spotting opportunities for growth, finding less obvious creative solutions. It’s amazing how little of our day is spent on creating space for new opportunities and for people collaboration.
I also can’t really write this article about workplace burnout and not mention the quiet quitting viral phenomenon and how relatable it is to “check out” and stop going the extra mile for the employer. The trend made headlines last year, but it’s rampant and relevant even today. Then there is also something called “rust out"—which isn’t caused by overwork, but by feeling underutilised at work and doing work that doesn’t fuel your fire. It’s a depressing, slow deterioration of work productivity and the lack of purpose in a person’s role and the overwhelming banality of repetitive tasks are to be blamed. If AI could help even a fraction of the people feeling this way, perhaps we could re-engage a workforce that has clearly lost its way in these past few years.
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Alex Dalman is managing partner and head of social & innovation at VCCP.