Burnout is a word that’s been part of our lexicon for decades. It’s a word that’s tossed around a lot—so much, in fact, that its meaning, and the legitimacy of what is recognized as an actual psychological syndrome, has been diminished. For marketing operations professionals, job stress and burnout are all too real.

The Toll of Ongoing Work-related Stress

In an article for Harvard Health Publishing, contributors Nicole J. LeBlanc, MA and Luana Marques, Ph.D., write: “Certain work-related stressors are closely linked with burnout. Examples are having too much work or too little independence, inadequate pay, lack of community between coworkers, unfairness or disrespect, and a mismatch between workplace and personal values.”

The symptoms of burnout are many and include both physiological and psychological impacts. Physiologically, burnout can result in an increased release of a stress hormone called cortisol, which say these authors, “can disturb the immune system, and raise the likelihood of developing autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.” Psychologically, burnout is known to be linked with anxiety and depression. In short, while we may toss around the term lightly, the consequences of job stress and burnout can be quite serious.

Of course, when we’re talking about burnout, we’re talking about work-related stress. Not only can stress impact employee health, but it also impacts job performance, which adds to stress, creating a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.

Keep in mind stressors that impact employee health and performance are not limited to the workplace. While your staff members are dealing with increasing demands from internal and external customers, trying to learn new technologies or understand the impact of new Google algorithms on their digital strategies, ensuring compliance regulations are met— GDPR and CCPA specifically, and facing pressure to meet internal SLA’s, they may also be dealing with a myriad of demands at home. Work / life balance has been said to be something that is particularly important to the millennial generation; in truth, it’s something that is important to all of us but, unfortunately, increasingly more difficult to achieve and sustain.

It’s not only employees that feel the pain of work-related stress. Employers do too.

The Impact of Job Stress on Employers

Dealing with job stress causes disengagement for employees whose minds are often elsewhere. This is particularly true when they’re also experiencing stress in their personal lives and desperately attempting to attain a workable work / life balance.

Stressed-out employees, and particularly those also feeling the physical impacts of ongoing stress, are more likely to be absent or tardy, more likely to be injured, and more likely to be disengaged during the workday.

Stress takes a toll. In fact, according to Willis Towers Watson, more than 75 percent of companies consider stress to be their top health risk (followed by obesity at about 70 percent, poor nutrition at about 55 percent and tobacco use at about 30 percent). That toll has an impact on the bottom line.

Mental Health America (MHA) and the Faas Foundation conducted a two-year research project, Mind the Workplace, which determined that disengaged workers can lead to massive losses in productivity. Gallup has indicated that the impacts of job stress and burnout results in employees “checking out” of the workforce, costing between $450-500 billion annually in lost productivity.

In addition to lost productivity, employers are at risk of losing employees. In a SHRM article, Roy Mauer reports that, according to Compdata, employees quitting has increased from 13.5 percent in October 2017 to 14.2 percent in October 2018. The tendency for this exodus is especially prevalent among millennials who, according to Mercer, accounted for slightly over half of all voluntary separations in 2018—followed by Generation X at 25 percent and Baby Boomers at 19 percent.

Marketing Operations Feels the Pressure

Unfortunately, job stress is a term all too familiar for marketing operations, a field that is being pressured from a variety of fronts. What kind of stress impacts today’s marketing operations departments and individual staff members? There is a wide range of potential impacts:

  • Too-heavy workloads that can lead to exhaustion and a sense of defeat
  • Negative interactions with internal clients whose demands often seem to be impossible to meet
  • Boredom that may be the result of mundane tasks that become rote, thinking particularly about the back and forth associated with campaign execution
  • New technologies that require ongoing learning and drive continual change
  • An overflow of incoming work requests and increasing demands as organizations struggle to find Marketo talent to fill open positions

Marketing operations may feel the impacts of job stress and burnout more acutely than others. A Workfront study indicates that 80 percent of marketers feel “overloaded and understaffed”—25 percent say they are “highly stressed,” and 50 percent have concerns about juggling work to get it done in a 40-hour week. Sound familiar?

“When marketing teams are inundated with work requests, and spending large amounts of time simply trying to keep up with the workload, stress is bound to happen,” said Joe Staples, chief marketing officer of Workfront.

For marketing operations staff, one of the highest areas of angst (36 percent) is delayed management approvals that cause them to miss deadlines.

Digital marketers feel additional stressors. Search Engine Journal points to the following top sources of stress for those in this arena:

  • Metrics which often reveal that desired results were not attained despite significant effort
  • Limited budgets that don’t seem appropriate given desired results
  • MarTech updates and a constantly shifting digital landscape
  • Wearing too many hats
  • Lack of strategy
  • Inability to convert leads

Yet, despite the pressure, marketing operations professionals are a committed breed—a surprising 84 percent of respondents say they don’t regret choosing a career in marketing, according to the Workfront survey. It’s important, though, for marketing leaders to be aware of the stressors that staff deal with on a regular basis and consider ways of minimizing them and the negative impacts they may have— before it’s too late.


The support and resources your marketing operations staff needs do not have to all come from within your organization. Sometimes outside help and guidance may be just what you need. Perkuto can help — give us a call and let’s discuss your needs.