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Talent is in the driver’s seat… what next?

Aliza Sweiry, UK managing director - Aquent

The results of its 2021 Talent Insights Report*. The key takeaways from this year’s iteration are the significant impact of the post-Pandemic ‘Great Resignation’, and the rise of the hybrid workplace as a recruitment deciding factor.

Now in its third year the Talent Insights Report* collates and analyses the results from an in-depth survey of marketing, creative, and digital talent. This proprietary research is aimed at helping organisations and hiring managers attract, and retain, top talent by understanding what they value most.

This year, data was collected from 1,479 respondents across the US, Canada, UK and the Netherlands, covering roles in marketing & communications, agency account management, creative & design and digital in companies of all sizes.   

Looking closer at the 2021 results :

The Great Resignation
Over the past few years, the job market has seen an unprecedented shift in what talent expect from their employers, and they are showing more confidence to leave if they don’t get it.  Although the number of people actively looking for a new role in 2021 has fallen by 10% compared to a year ago, talent are clearly still in the driver’s seat as millions of job openings remain vacant.

Worringly, job dissatisfaction increased to almost 33% in 2020 and 2021, compared to 22% in 2019. This unhappiness was most likely influenced by poor leadership and layoffs.

While trying to find a new work-life balance in the middle of a global pandemic, talent was frequently expected to maintain the same level of production, if not more, especially for middle-management roles (VP, Director, Manager). Talent in this category are facing increased pressure from above and below, with 54% to 59% of middle-management employees considering leaving their role in the next 3 to 6 months.

The pandemic also exposed and amplified whatever shortcomings that had previously existed in businesses, with leadership being one of them. UX, CX, and Service Design were more likely than any other group to leave their positions owing to bad leadership or management. Compensation was the second most prevalent reason cited, after COVID layoffs/restructuring, which disproportionately impacted Creative and Design professionals.

When it came to identifying talent’s requirements, the survey also revealed they are now choosing flexible working arrangements almost as much as higher compensation (28%). Further, career advancement slipped from a high of 25% last year to 17%, indicating changing priorities post-COVID.

The future is hybrid
98% of survey respondents wanted to work remotely at least some of the time. Two days a week in the office is the most popular hybrid option. Employees value flexibility so much that they will quit or decline job offers if it is not provided. Companies that embrace a flexible workforce will have the pick of the greatest candidates from  within and outside their geographic region. Higher productivity, fewer overhead and capital expenditures, and a happier staff are all part of the bigger picture. Unsurprisingly then, offering staff flexible hours was ranked as one of the top factors to facilitate effective remote working.

Talent has also expressed that typical office perks such as free snacks and drinks, a lounge area and games are not so impactful in a hybrid working environment (fewer than 6% said so). However, nearly 60% of respondents placed a high value on the ability to meet, collaborate and train in person as well as the opportunity to form personal friendships with coworkers. 

No sleeping on passive candidates
Only 35% of people are actively searching for a job, significantly lower than 2020 figures. However passive candidates rise up to 10%, especially in UX, CX and Service Design. Overall, 42% of talent say they would want a salary increase of 16%–30% to push them to make a move.

Commenting on the 2021 Talent Insights Report, Aliza Sweiry, UK managing director at Aquent says,  ‘‘What’s clear from 2021’s findings is the pandemic has been a wake-up call for many people. After a year of adapting to such big transformations, many are reconsidering their career and lifestyle choices and demanding more from their employers. Ultimately, organisations that cannot operate remotely and provide flexibility will fall behind.’’

How employers can fend off turnovers
Ultimately, to retain top talent and protect their teams, businesses must create a work environment that people don’t want to leave. As the world’s largest recruiter for creative and marketing talent, Aquent suggests a few ways organisations and hiring managers can make a difference.

Surveying staff and collecting feedback on a regular basis is an excellent way to stay in touch with everyone’s individual needs and concerns in the workplace. Additionally, investing in talent by providing competitive salaries and leadership training is one of many ways to make sure employees feel valued. As top talent is increasingly opting for the work/life balance that comes with living outside of big cities, remote employment gives businesses access to a wider range of professionals, some of whom may be based outside of their geographic area.

*Research from Aquent

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