Digital agencies must think deeply about adopting a remote-first approach and creating an attractive culture to win the war for marketing and sales talent that’s set to intensify in 2022.
Amid the sliding unemployment rate and rising wage pressures, reports suggest that hiring activity is picking up among the vast majority of employers in America, and businesses seeking skilled workers need to fork over more than just good money to lure or keep workers.
According to recruiting company Robert Half’s State of U.S. Hiring Survey of over 2,300 senior managers:
- 64 percent of respondents anticipate boosting new permanent positions in the first half of this year
- 33 percent expect to fill vacated positions
- 2 percent are not filling vacated positions
- 1 percent are eliminating staff
Among the 24 U.S. cities in the survey, those with the highest percentages of employers planning to add permanent positions are Charlotte (75 percent), San Francisco (74 percent), and Detroit (72 percent). In addition, managers in administrative and customer support (72 percent) and marketing (69 percent) departments have the greatest hiring needs.
Which skills are in-demand?
Market conditions are particularly favorable for digital marketers. Robert Half is expecting salaries for specialists in this profession to increase 5.6 percent this year due to strong demand from employers, outperforming the 3.8 percent pay rise expected for all occupations in general. The national midpoint salary for digital marketing specialists is currently $61,250.
The level of demand for digital marketers is supported by LinkedIn data, which showed that half of the top 10 jobs posted on the business networking and posting platform are in digital media – including related salesperson roles. The below image provides a synopsis of the fastest growing and highest demand occupations in this vocation.
“As the pandemic accelerated our industry’s shift to virtual everything, it also accelerated the demand for marketers in digital roles,” says Tequia Burt, Editor in Chief of LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions Blog.
Furthermore, LinkedIn said in its 2022 Jobs on the Rise Report that a number of specific sales and senior marketing positions were expected to boom and define the future of work in the U.S. over the next several years. These include:
- Customer marketing managers, who often sit between sales and marketing departments, help develop and execute programs that drive client engagement, such as digital campaigns, awards, and events. Their salary ranges from $89,900 to $154,000.
- Search marketing managers, who develop paid search campaigns across digital channels to promote the adoption of a product or service. Their salary ranges from $46,000 to $90,400.
- Business development representatives, who are usually early-career salespeople responsible for identifying and reaching out to prospective clients. Their salary ranges from $35,000 to $68,200.
- Strategic sales specialists, who develop processes across sales organizations with responsibilities including market research, competitive strategy, forecasts, and business growth recommendations. Their salary ranges from $39,500 to $128,000.
The strategies companies are using to lure and keep talent
The job market has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past two years.
Whereas during the early days of the pandemic some workers felt fortunate to keep their jobs, the tables have turned and now employers are feeling lucky to keep skilled talent, especially at the senior level.
"Today's professionals have more career options and negotiating power than ever," says Paul McDonald, Senior Executive Director at Robert Half.
"In order to land the best talent, employers must move quickly, create a positive candidate experience from the initial contact to the job offer, and provide competitive salaries and flexible work options."
According to Robert Half’s research, companies are pulling multiple levers to attract skilled candidates:
- 55 percent are increasing starting salaries
- 50 percent are offering remote options and evaluating candidates outside of their office's geography
- 44 percent are providing signing bonuses
- 41 percent are giving more paid time off (PTO)
- 31 percent are loosening education, skills, or experience requirements
Think beyond just money
For agencies and other businesses that may not have the financial firepower to offer up to 50 percent pay rises, or in Apple’s case, $325,000 salaries for digital marketers, benefits may need to make up a higher weighting in a total package for candidates and current employees.
"Amid talent and skills shortages, employers are more willing to hire remote professionals — and they're wise to do so," says McDonald.
But simply offering extra PTO and letting employees work remotely isn’t enough. The key is in building a unique culture, offering genuine flexibility, and ensuring employees feel like they’re part of a community no matter where they work from.
According to Spencer Hadelman, CEO at Advantage Marketing, companies should consider the following strategies to make their culture stand out:
- Prioritize employee wellness and a healthy work-life balance by checking in with employees to gauge their workload and overall happiness at the company, and proactively actioning feedback.
- Be on the front foot with compensation by awarding timely bonuses and pay rises before they decide to walk out due to feeling undervalued.
- Invest in education and training. Employee satisfaction is likely to increase if their employer is providing financial support or mentorship opportunities to help them advance their careers.
“There are many other options that you can explore when it comes to increasing employee happiness, but the main takeaway is always making sure that your employees feel valued,” Hadelman wrote in a Forbes post.
Consider four-day workweeks with the same pay
While some companies are able to compete for talent through strong compensation and benefits packages, others such as smaller agencies may not have the financial resources to do so.
That’s where out-of-the-box thinking comes in. Harvard researchers Brian Kropp and Emily Rose McRae suggest that instead of bumping up pay, companies could shorten their workweek.
“Historically, as wages rise, leisure time becomes more valuable and appealing to workers," they said.
Reducing the hours employees need to work gives less liquid employers a better chance to compete with organizations that offer higher overall compensation but don’t offer reduced hours.
“Ultimately, we’re likely to see a handful of organizations adopt 32-hour workweeks with the same compensation as a new way to compete for knowledge workers," Kropp and McRae said.
Focus on employees’ mental health
Lastly, a focus on mental health will be crucial to creating a positive image of a company’s culture.
According to Alyson Watson, CEO of Modern Health, mentions of mental health issues and burnouts due to being overworked soared on job review website Glassdoor and this could be a real red flag for candidates.
According to Modern Health’s research, mental health is particularly important for employees aged 18-29, with 86 percent saying they would more likely stay at a company that provides high-quality resources for them to care for their mental health.
“In the midst of the 'Great Resignation' and with the war for talent heating up, this is a statistic that cannot be ignored,” says Watson.
“With Americans quitting or changing jobs in near-record numbers, offering mental health support to employees is a no-brainer.”
With the war for talent heating up, agency owners and other businesses seeking to hire skilled workers cannot afford to go back to the “good old days” and dictate the terms and conditions of employment arrangements.
Jobseekers and current employees who know their skills are valuable can easily pack up and find an employer willing to offer flexible work arrangements along with better pay and benefits if they feel undervalued in their current role or experience hardline policies around where and when they need to work.
That’s why agency owners need to step up and, beyond compensation, think about creating and articulating clear policies that contribute to a unique culture where employees feel valued, connected, cared for, and empowered - rather than monitored - to do their jobs well.