NABS All Ears Community Consultation Report
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NABS All Ears Community Consultation report

After six months of deep investigation across the industry, read the findings from All Ears, our community consultation. 

This substantial research project gives a deep and up-to-date picture of the state of mental wellness in our industry.

All Ears’ findings reveal an industry in need of practical, inclusive mental wellness support.

How we consulted

We started with a strong base of knowledge, both from NABS’ own subject matter expertise, and from the All In Census.

We therefore focused on depth. We reached into every part of our community, dug deeper for better understanding – and committed to advancing what we learnt.

Along the way we held 67 in-depth conversations, in groups and individually, with people in every part of our industry and at every stage.

We also conducted two pulse surveys with a representative sample of 1,121 people.

Throughout this was supplemented with deep reviews of literature from the industry and beyond.

Our Key Findings

The mental wellness conversation needs to open up.

Leaders who show vulnerability in discussing their mental wellness can drive positive culture change. Yet half of C-suite or department heads still worry that discussing their mental health could impact on their career. Meanwhile, 39% of early careers respondents were unlikely to share their experiences due to concern regarding colleagues’ reactions. Overall, just 35% of respondents feel unable to discuss mental wellness in the workplace and 46% of LGBTQ+ respondents feel like they can be themselves at work, contrasted with 69% of straight respondents.

Respondents who have suffered, or are currently suffering, from mental wellness conditions that affect their ability to work feel the least optimistic about the direction of the dialogue around mental wellness.

The gap between policy and practice is widening.

Many businesses in our industry have launched supportive policies and initiatives. Some of these have been effective. However, often initiatives are not implemented. Respondents highlighted the disconnection between policies and practice. In our research we spoke to two organisations in the industry who evaluated their policies and initiatives. In both cases, the organisations over-estimated the impact of the work they had been doing. There is a common perspective that more energy goes into the creation and launching of these initiatives than into embedding them..

There are broken steps on the management ladder.

Too many people are funnelled into management positions without the required training. In total, 42% of people experiencing mental wellness issues would take them to their line manager first – despite a widespread awareness that managers were not always prepared with the best way to respond and able to signpost or suggest an appropriate next step.

Remote and hybrid working are creating both tension and opportunity.

Back-to-back video calls and a blurring of boundaries create pressure on mental wellness, although being at home creates greater flexibility and a more manageable home life blend for many. Mandated returns to the office are a common source of stress. Just under two-fifths of senior managers believe we have the tools to manage high workloads, while just over a quarter believe we have the right tools and practices to collaborate effectively.

We have a lived experience gap, not a generation gap.

People experience this industry differently, and this directly impacts their mental wellness. Both newer entrants to the industry and senior leaders are equally likely to stereotype each other, and to find frustration with each other based on these assumptions. As the industry becomes more diverse, this is becoming more of an issue, leading to stress and anxiety in many employees.


What NABS is doing:

  • Increasing our visibility and relevance and advocacy work in advancing mental wellness, so that more people know we’re here when they need us
  • A special focus on supporting managers, creating a manager’s programme for up-and-coming talent and established managers
  • Creating more opportunities for connection and engagement in our community – with us and with each other – creating spaces for people to explore shared challenges and how to achieve progress together
  • Exploring a collaborative campaign for driving change, harnessing the industry’s collective influence and creativity


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Methodology and more


We’d like to acknowledge the collective efforts required to create this report:

Hook Strategy, NFP Research

Our industry partners:

Brixton Finishing School, The Advertising Association, IPA, MEFA, WACL, Outvertising.

Everyone from our industry who gave their time, their perspectives, and their stories.


How we use your data:

Your data will help us to engage you in the most relevant discussions in ways that are suitable and convenient to you.  By completing this form, you are not making a time commitment to take part. 
Any details that we collect adhere to our privacy policy.

Get in touch

If you have any questions, please contact:


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