The sector is under pressure with only a quarter of employees saying they are happy in their present role and not looking for a new job. A further third are considering other industries. The most common reason cited for changing job was a lack of progression (35%), followed by poor management (15%) and low pay (7%). Conversely, while employees may have itchy feet, six out of ten marketing leaders say there’s a talent shortage and are finding it hard to recruit.

The industry’s volatility

The current workforce does not want a job for life, rather a stimulating role offering a good work-life balance.

On average, UK employees switch jobs every five years. However, the marketing industry is more volatile, with marketers and creatives staying in their jobs between two and five years (50%), while another 46% stick around for less than two. The survey also highlights that one in three professionals are dissatisfied with their career choice and are considering moving into other industries.

With a quarter of employees actively looking for a new job, most marketers and creatives are waiting for the right opportunity to come along. Whether it is through a good offer or via word of mouth, one in two UK marketing and creative workers (52%) are quietly biding their time for a better option. This finding comes in a challenging recruitment environment, with over half (54%) of bosses finding it hard to source quality talent.

Job security is not enough anymore. What people want is a role that stimulates them. Nearly half (42%) of marketers and creatives joined their present or most recent company because the position looked exciting. A similar proportion (46%) researched their company on social media to see if it looked like a fun, supportive place to work. A quarter checked for positive reviews on Glassdoor. High quality offices were a big draw for a quarter, but 65% were either neutral about luxury workspaces or did not consider it a significant factor in deciding to accept their job.

However, three quarters of employees said they took their present position because they found their new boss likeable and inspirational.

A caring employer culture and good leadership are key to employees’ well-being and career progression. Organisations and bosses seem to be delivering on that front. 88% of marketers and creatives identify their companies as being nurturing; only 10% said that they don’t feel supported at work. As for the management, two-thirds of employees say that their bosses are good leaders (which is in line with senior marketers’ self-assessments of their performance).

Tired of being tired

It seems that there is not enough time in the workday for marketers and creatives to get everything done with one half of employees admitting to frequently working out-of-hours. The marketing industry works six hours more than the national weekly average – putting in almost 43 hours compared to 37.1 hours for the rest of the nation. That being said, almost 40% of marketers and creatives say that they are fatigued by their job and a quarter feel at risk of burnout.

In addition to the long working hours, marketing and creative professionals highlighted a few barriers to productivity. The most problematic one is the practice of holding meetings about meetings which more than one in two found a problem (65%), followed by e-mail volume (58%), team members’ attitudes (44%), and (surprisingly) in our digital world slow internet (50%).

Marketers and creatives, however, are a resilient bunch, and menial tasks and burn-out were not the most common reasons for them to change jobs. What pushes people to move is a lack of progression (35%) followed by poor management (15%) and low pay (7%).

There is a fracture between what motivates them and the reality of the workplace. Three-quarters of employees are motivated by challenging themselves and thrive when faced by an intellectual problem.

While many professionals benefit from and want to be stretched by their jobs, one-third either don’t find their work engrossing or felt neutral when asked if their work interests them. Along with this, a significant quarter of marketers and creatives feel that that their ideas and contributions are not recognised.

Only a third (32%) have found that the training and development promised at interview has been implemented in a structured fashion.

Unbalancing Act

Three-quarters of marketers and creatives say that putting in an OK effort is not good enough. As a result, the sought after work-life balance is tipping in favour of the job. A third of people expressed concerns about fitting in parenting or caring responsibilities.

While this imbalance is not a critical factor behind people changing jobs, it is the top reason highlighted by freelancers for having left the structure and stability of permanent work (80%). Workload was the second most cited reason by seven out of ten independent marketers. For most, it seems to have solved the problem of work-life balance. Over three-quarters identify the top perk of freelancing as being able to live their life flexibly (80%), and only a fifth find it more stressful than full-time permanent work.

There are, however, a lot of similarities between freelancers and those in permanent roles. In both situations, nearly 90% of people say that they go above and beyond in their work. Even in the freelance world, close to half don’t finish on time (44%). Regardless of the nature of their roles, marketers and creatives are a hard working bunch.

Mike Berry, UK Country Manager, Aquent/Vitamin T says, “In a competitive industry where six out of ten marketing bosses are finding it hard to recruit quality talent, companies need to find an effective way of not only developing, but retaining good people. With a quarter of marketers and creatives unhappy enough at work to be actively looking for a change employers need to up their game. Our research indicates that ensuring staff can move that career ladder and receive structured training development is key to keeping people on board. Employees want to be recognised for their work and effort. If employees feel valued, their job satisfaction is more likely to increase, along with their job tenure.”