How to manage workloads at digital agencies

Staff To Client Ratio. Is There A Golden Number?

/ / Latest Digital Marketing News / 14 January 2020

A constant juggling act for every digital marketing agency is in managing staff workloads. Too little work obviously isn’t great for profitability, and too much work can impact on staff morale, stress levels, and quality of work. So, is there a golden number or formula when it comes to how many clients each staff member should work on?

In my days as a Registered Nurse (many, many years ago), there was a golden number. 1 nurse to 4 patients. Looking after 4 patients meant you could spend the time needed to assess each patient, develop a decent care plan for the shift, and adequately implement that plan. Add an extra patient or two, and the care plan starts to spread thin. Add another patient, and adequate patient care (and arguably patient health outcomes) goes down the hospital drain. Alongside this, fulfilment and job satisfaction are also often severely impacted as a result of being overworked (not to mention underpaid!!).

Whilst we’re clearly not directly saving lives as a digital agency, I am critically aware of staff workloads. This may be because of my nursing background and having a genuine passion for looking after people. But, as an ethical business owner, we have worked tirelessly to structure our agency to ensure manageable workloads are achieved. An agency has to be profitable without having to rely (and expect) their staff to work overtime on an ongoing basis. Apart from the human element of genuinely looking after our staff (which is at the heart of Wired), let’s face it – high stress levels and overworked staff can be very, very bad for business.

So, is there a golden number or formula? Unfortunately, the answer is no. I wish it were that simple. Instead, we have set up systems and processes here at Wired to manage staff workloads as best we can. For example, we track hours and set up alerts if staff are working overtime. If this happens, we very quickly set up meetings to workshop solutions to ensure workloads remain manageable. Another example – across each team, all staff are technically trained to help other team’s when work is forecasted to ramp up. If our SEM team have a high number of search ad campaigns to build, our social team have the ability to step in and help out

To wrap all this up, even though there isn’t a golden number, there are certainly ways of structuring an agency to; keep workloads at a manageable level, maintain a high level of quality and strong campaign performance, achieve staff happiness, achieve client happiness, have enough time to win new business… oh, and of course, maintain a decent profit margin… Piece of cake! 

Words by Angela Hampton, Founder & Managing Director

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