Why NABS Wants Your Input to Improve Workplaces for Everyone

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NABS’ director of strategy and development tells LBB’s Alex Reeves why the support organisation for the UK ad business is conducting an industry-wide survey
Why NABS Wants Your Input to Improve Workplaces for Everyone
Earlier this month at its President’s Breakfast, NABS revealed the outcome of its inaugural NABS Track survey: a new, twice-yearly ‘state of the nation’ gathering of data and insight. The support organisation for the British advertising and media industry revealed that the survey demonstrated a clear call from respondents to improve leadership and management styles across the industry. For example, a whopping 95% of respondents agreed that an important subject for NABS Track going forward was how much self-awareness managers had around their own behaviour and stress levels, as this factor can have a huge impact on team well-being. And in the year ahead NABS wants to gather as much feedback as possible to build on these insights.

LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with Nicky Harris, director of strategy and development at NABS, to find out why data and insights of NABS Track are so important.

LBB> Can you explain what NABS Track is and why you first decided to launch it?

Nicky> The NABS Track is a new, industry-wide survey that will go out twice a year to ensure that everything we do is insight-driven. 

We knew that data and insights needed to be at the heart of our new strategy as we reimagined our future and our impact on adland’s success. 

We wanted to develop a deep understanding of the motivations, the pressures, the behaviours and the fears of the industry now and in years to come.

The results will help inform everything we do at NABS, from advances in our service provision to new delivery methods and campaigns to help change working practices for the better. 

Ultimately our ambition is that the NABS Track will become the industry’s biggest research piece and that its findings will feed directly into the very best advances for industry wellbeing. 

LBB> What was the methodology? 

Nicky> NABS is the only fully cross-sector support organisation for the industry, from agency to media owners and beyond. That puts us in a unique position where we can survey the whole industry to gain a complete picture.

NABS Track will combine a standard survey with a series of other research pieces, from focus groups to deep-dive sessions, where we’ll interrogate elements and themes that need more debate or clarification. 

We’re taking a collaborative approach to developing the NABS Track, working with consultants Oomph and research experts 2CV to create and deliver a survey that gets the results we need to help transform our industry. 

LBB> And how did the 2019 survey pan out? What were the interesting findings?

Nicky> The results were far richer than we could have imagined. They weren’t meant to be anything more than a proof-of-concept exercise, testing our approach and methodology. In fact, we discovered valuable insights that are already helping to shape our strategy. Our respondents called for three main things in particular: better training for managers, more empathetic leadership and increased diversity across the industry. 

There was also a loud call for managers to become more self-aware about their own emotional and mental health, as this can have a huge impact on their teams.

LBB> How did that guide how NABS has responded?

Nicky> The first survey showed us that management is not only the problem but also the solution. In addition, it highlighted the individuality of well-being and the need for us to tailor our provision to each person’s unique needs to help improve their own well-being.

We’ve been reworking some of our existing programmes and updating others with the latest neuroscience and there will be many more to come - lots more following the next research wave. Being able to respond to the NABS Track results with our agility and expertise is exciting and we’ll continue to do that with each survey.

LBB> What are you most interested to investigate with this year's NABS Track survey?

Nicky> We want to build on the insights around management and leadership, particularly the notion of self-awareness and creating courageous cultures – leading from the top in creating workplaces where people can open up and be themselves.

LBB> How would you like to see the UK creative community engage with it?

Nicky> We have several ambitions for NABS Track and see it as playing an important role in our industry. Firstly, we want to reach out to more diverse groups and to ask them to share their views, so that we can fully understand and represent them in our future plans. This is key if we’re to help create a more diverse industry.

Secondly, we’d like our current community of respondents to share NABS Track with colleagues at all levels. Through positive referral and community advocacy, we’ll find new and varied voices to help shape a more rounded conversation that’s truly reflective of where we’re at as an industry.

We also want to build on NABS Track by creating a forum of senior leaders to discuss its results, and, as a collective, to turn the data into recommendations for action across adland. We’re planning to bring together our first group of leaders this autumn for the first meeting of what we’ll call the NABS Culture Collective, and we’re hoping that this will help to drive forward meaningful change to make our brilliant industry even brighter.

LBB> Finally, what single questions would you most like NABS to be able to answer using the information gathered via Track?

Nicky> We’d like to discover how we can best help people across adland to prioritise their well-being and their development as a prerequisite for creating thriving teams. You can’t possibly create harmonious team environments if you’re wrestling with your own inner conflict. That’s why we’ll be here to work with leaders and managers across the board - to help them, and in turn their teams, to thrive. 

NABS is encouraging everybody in the industry to sign up to the NABS Track survey panel. Email NABSTrack@NABS.org.uk to register for the next survey.

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