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Rejecting Hustle Culture: BAM's Annual Summer Shutdown

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Fast-paced. Competitive. Target-driven.

These are all positive buzzwords that generally summarize PR and marketing agency life. But when peeling back the outer layer of agency culture, what else can you (traditionally) expect to find?

Cut-throat. Demanding. Reactive. Exhausted.

Hustle culture at PR and digital marketing agencies is often attributed to driving success but comes at a high cost: zero work-life balance, employee fatigue, and total burnout. Combined with high turnover, tunnel vision, and superficial work, this environment is a recipe for disaster for employees and clients alike.

As a leading agency that specializes in storytelling for venture-backed tech-driven startups, the BAM standard is innovation. We pride ourselves on delivering exceptional results for our clients and promoting a positive and progressive work environment for our team.

So what does that really mean for our culture? While it might seem unconventional amongst a sea of old-school agencies, we firmly believe that time away from work is crucial to our individual and collective success. In July 2023, BAM introduced an annual summer shutdown: a BAM summer break. Everyone on the team, including our CEO/founder, Beck Bamberger, closed their laptops for a week-long break. Now, we want to share the reasons behind our decision and the benefits it brings to our teams and clients.

Physical and mental wellbeing matter 

We are all BAMfs (yes, that stands for badass motherf*ckers), so the fast-moving world of public relations is exhilarating for our crew. But even BAMfs have to take care of themselves! With a company-wide break, we empower our employees to rest and recharge. This places mental health and physical wellbeing at the forefront, fostering a culture of self-care and purpose, one of our company values. BAM’s clients rely on us to get sh*t done, so we have to ensure we’re also taking care of our team. 

“I’m so grateful for our summer break! I had the opportunity to spend time with family and enjoy free time getting things done that are difficult to do during the work week. I feel refreshed and energized coming back to work” — BAM team member, survey response, July 2023

To stay creative, we need breaks 

Can you think of a time when a brilliant idea came to you way after you needed it? Brain slumps are real; we need breaks to nurture creativity and fresh perspectives. Want to take it up a notch? Immersing yourself in new experiences and environments can profoundly impact your ingenuity. By taking a week away from campaigns, projects, and pitching, our team returned to work with renewed enthusiasm, energy, and ideas. This allows everyone to perform their best for our clients, ensuring creativity and strategic innovation remain priorities.

“It’s so rare for a company to recognize that burnout does not equal better work or more invested employees. These built-in breaks and flexibility allow me to fully SHOW UP. This was an amazing opportunity to connect with myself and get into ALL the planning for H2.”  — BAM team member, survey response July 2023

Reflection and personal growth are key  

BAM’s summer shutdown isn’t just about time off. It’s also about introspection and personal growth. During our summer shutdown, team members are encouraged to reflect on their achievements, challenges, and goals. This reflective process fosters self-awareness and encourages our team to develop or refine new skills. Ultimately, this investment in personal development and finding new ways of achieving happiness at work enhances the expertise we bring to the table for our clients. 

“I so greatly appreciated having this company-wide summer break. It focused us to rest, relax, and spend time with family or however we desired. I feel lucky to work somewhere that values me and treats me like BAM does! Excited to come back and tackle Q3 challenges and win as a well-rested team!” — BAM team member, survey response, July 2023. 

Knowing what your people want

Every year, we ask our team members why they stay at BAM, and every year company culture tops the list. This year, flexibility was among the top three reasons people stay at BAM. A flexible work schedule tells your team you trust them. Trust leads to team members feeling valued. Feeling valued leads to a more engaged workforce. More engaged people equals more productivity. You do the math. 

“It was SO nice to have a collective break. I feel recharged and ready to kick off Q3!” — BAM team member, survey response, July 2023

This isn’t just a vacation for BAM. It’s a strategic move 

We understand that it might sound counterintuitive, but we’re big believers in rest. Taking breaks improves long-term productivity and creativity. For far too long, we’ve glamorized hustle culture when we needed to prioritize break culture. We conclude that an annual summer shutdown at BAM further enriches our well-being, creativity, personal growth, and company culture. This strategic move benefits our team, our clients, and the agency world as a whole. 


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