Is the employee experience now the key to retaining and attracting marketing talent?

Is the employee experience now the key to retaining and attracting marketing talent?

No-one in the industry has missed the elephant in the room – people are leaving marketing in droves since the pandemic.

A study by recruiters Aquent recently found that 94% of global employers are working hard to enhance the employee experience over the next three years.

So how can companies improve the employee experience to retain talent, and can it even be a key way of attracting talent?

We asked senior marketing recruiters to outline their views.

Employers 'with employees at the heart of what they do'

Rohan Shah, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Reuben Sinclair, says, “In 2019, an extra £10k would have encouraged most people to consider a move. But after the pandemic, marketers are moving because they want to make a genuine change in their personal and professional lives. So a great employee experience is about individualising employee benefits as much as possible. Companies tend to have blanket rewards and benefits policies but it is critical that managers speak to their team and listen to their needs.

“Someone with children may want to leave early some days to take their kids to an after school club. Those without children may want to leave early to attend a football match. A great employer might pay for a season ticket for the person without children. The parent might appreciate having their child’s club membership fees paid. This is an employer with employees at the heart of what they do.

“And as flexi working is now the norm, it’s important to define what it actually means for individuals. While the majority of marketers want to work in the office at most one or two days a week, businesses have to recognise that there are employees who would rather be majority office based for colleague collaboration, learning and the working environment. Employers need to take them into account.”

'Return to four or five days in the office' not for marketers

Clare Kemsley, Managing Director, Hays Marketing, says, “Quite a few roles across companies say they are keen to eventually return to four or five days in the office but not marketers. They demand hybrid working. Wellbeing days or days off, a day off for parents on the day their child starts school are talked about much more.

“Marketers want to know what a brand is all about in terms of its purpose and whether it does good in the world before they will even consider an interview. They are looking at sustainability and purpose much more deeply. So the employee experience is also about answering the question: Are we really serving our customers’ needs or are we just driving demand? Marketers overwhelmingly want to know that they are making ‘good profit’ in their roles.”

The importance of onboarding

Aliza Sweiry, UK Managing Director Aquent, says,It’s important to note that the employee experience begins before a candidate is even hired. Indeed, how your company presents itself online or how employees, current or not, talk about you to others plays a significant role in how you’ll be perceived.

“First things first, ensure you have a smooth hiring process with good constructive feedback in a timely manner and show your candidates that you are taking the time to get to know them and want them!

“Avoid dragging your heels on decisions, don’t make the process too long. At the later stages, I suggest involving the rest of the team so everyone can meet. Basically, this will show the candidate what the company ethos is and it will make the whole experience more human.

“When the time comes to onboard a new recruit, it is crucial to provide them with adequate support. Over the course of their tenure within the company, schedule one-on-one meetings with employees to discuss professional goals, personal goals and how you can work together to make these happen. Determine how success is measured and remain clear with what is expected from employees as well as managers.

“Employees who feel they are an integral part of their team and who feel supported by their managers are more likely to perform well and to stay within the company. Even if an employee eventually decides to leave, continue to engage with them and try to generate some feedback to reflect upon how you can improve your employee experience.”

Employees 'need a lot more support'

Lucy Cairncross, Executive Director, VMA Group, says, “Onboarding is still a big challenge. Lots of new recruits have not yet even been in the office, so they don’t feel connected in the same way, and they leave quite easily if they’re not connected. That’s a big danger for in-house and agency recruitment. So as part of a great employee relationship, you need to engage people emotionally and build a relationship.

“Making people feel supported is difficult right now. Companies need to invest in the mental health side because there is a lot to worry about in relationship to the on/off pandemic and employers need to be conscious of the fact that some people have bigger struggles with this than others. And that means they will need a lot of support.”