Facilitating growth is a key priority for UK digital agencies – strategic and creative agencies focused on user experience, mobile, social, data gathering and analytics. And it will continue to be so as the ongoing macroeconomic climate proves difficult for scale-ups. 

For digital agencies, this growth is especially seen with financial expansion, talent acquisition, and bolstering customer pipelines. While rising inflation and interest rates are affecting businesses across the country, growth is still at the top of the agenda for many ambitious digital agencies. However, this must not come at the cost of employee welfare.

Wellbeing or wealth?

NHS data suggests that one in six people in the UK experience mental health problems in the workplace. Over 12% of all sickness absence days are a result of mental health conditions.    

Despite this, a worrying number of digital agencies are currently prioritising growth over their employee wellbeing. This is according to recent research from Cloudways, which found that 40% digital agencies prioritised growth above all else. 58% of those surveyed stated that growth is important, but not at the expense of employee wellbeing. The findings come as part of a wider report that exposed the obstacles preventing digital agencies from growing during times of uncertainty.  

This data also comes at a time where the mental health of Britons is being significantly affected by the rising cost of living. This revelation of not fully considering employee welfare is concerning. 

When organisations offer mental health support to their employees, it paves the way for optimal performance. By prioritising employee wellbeing, stress levels are reduced, job satisfaction is elevated, and work-life balance is improved. This supportive work environment cultivates heightened productivity and efficiency among employees, empowering them to deliver outstanding customer service to customers or clients. There are a variety of ways that digital agencies can keep employee wellbeing at the heart of their ethos whilst also facilitating necessary business growth.

What issues are proving to be barriers for digital agency growth?  

De-prioritising employees is also a vicious circle when it comes to growth potential. Cloudways’ study revealed that 30% of UK digital agencies cite a shortage of staff as an obstacle to achieving growth. By concentrating on filling gaps in employment and empowering employees to perform at their best, digital agencies will ultimately see their output grow. This is by plugging any productivity gaps caused by staff shortages.   

Moreover, it’s also important to consider the potential improvements to overall employee wellbeing by having ample resources to keep up with workloads. This can halt productivity if not correctly addressed. Reduced productivity creates a cascade of problems which can be detrimental to the success of any digital agency.  

Digital agencies also named in-house issues such as poor cash flow (24%) and taking on bad fit clients (26%) as their greatest barriers to growth. These are more problematic than the current state of the economy (22%).   

Sales and marketing were also key areas hampering growth, with more than half (52%) of digital agencies blaming their sales and marketing strategies. In addition to this, 40% of those surveyed said their average customer lifespan doesn’t exceed 24 months. This suggests a lack of insight needed for customer retention.    

Utilising new tools to empower employees  

Surprisingly, many digital agencies at present do not realise that they already have the tools to address these in-house issues. They may be able to handle the issues that are stifling growth and burdening the wellbeing of staff easier than they imagine.   

Indeed, the core issues affecting sales and marketing can be overhauled and corrected with existing business tools. For example, in terms of customer retention, data-driven analytics provide insights into customers’ activities, behaviours and frustrations. This is helping digital firms retrace customers’ journeys to empathise with them and anticipate future needs.  

When looking to grow, digital agencies should prioritise factors that can be controlled and influenced. These include talent, building a customer pipeline, and investing in technologies that will help differentiate from the competition to sustain growth.   

While it may come at a significant cost for smaller agencies, such measures should not be disregarded. Especially if agencies not only want to survive but prosper, even during the most uncertain times. It’s also essential that in-house issues that can be easily fixed by utilising the right tools are addressed when considering long-term employee wellbeing for digital agencies.  

Despite this, all business growth will only be truly achieved if agency staff wellbeing is also a top priority. When companies prioritise the wellbeing of their employees, it positively impacts their engagement, service quality, consistency, reliability, and overall brand image and reputation. By cultivating a supportive work environment, digital agencies can foster a customer-centric culture and provide outstanding experiences that distinguish them from competitors. 

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