Staff churn, wage inflation are just some of the issues that adland’s CEOs are worried about as the industry heads into what looks like a very busy 2022, according to the latest IAPI Census which was published this week.
With 27% staff churn on average in 2020, and similar figures predicted for 2021, this is the single biggest concern facing the industry, particularly as two-thirds of those moving leave the industry, according to IAPI.
“Most leavers are choosing a completely different career path, stepping down altogether or, moving out of Ireland. In fact, the highest % of leavers that move to tech platforms are those with 9-12 yrs’ experience (38%) – generally the industry’s most valuable and experienced talent,” says the IAPI Census.
“Naturally, the level of churn has contributed to wage inflation across all roles in the sector. IAPI members took part in a confidential salary survey in the Autumn and the findings show above inflation wage increases across a wide spectrum of agency roles. Wage inflation ranges from 5% on average for all creative roles; 7% for social and paid search media roles (contrary to anecdotal evidence); 10% for account management and media buying roles; 14% for all digital roles and 17% on average for planning and insight roles,” it notes.
The Census also notes that industry leaders are concerned about losing skills in ecommerce and digital while creative agencies are most concerned about gaps in creative strategy and planning.
“Despite this churn, total staff numbers have increased by 7% since 2019, This reflects in part, IAPI’s growing membership which has increased by 10% in 2021 with a number of new, smaller agencies keen to use the services offered by IAPI,” it says.
Diversity & Inclusion
When it comes to gender balance, females now have an equal say in executive management across the industry and have 40% of the C Suite positions in agencies.
The Census also notes that across IAPI membership, there has also been a large (24%) increase in the presence of a D&I policy in place. 87% of agencies have a policy in place, with 6% of those utilizing the IAPI D&I Policy provided to members in June 2021.
The industry is also growing its’ non-Irish workforce, according to IAPI, with 1 in 5 employees from Europe, UK, US, Canada, South America, Asia, Africa, The Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. This represents a 7% increase of international talent since 2019. For the first time this year, IAPI also looked at the socio-economic backgrounds of the workforce, and with two-thirds of our workforce from affluent, middle-class backgrounds, there is room for improvement here.
According to the IAPI Census, 87% of agency leaders are very optimistic that their agency will fully recover from the impact of the pandemic, and three-quarters believe that revenues will increase next year.
With nearly two-thirds of all agencies pursuing business from international clients, this again reflects the confidence of Irish agencies to compete on a global stage, says IAPI.
However, the industry still faces a number of challenges as the pandemic continues to affect our working lives. Aside from talent churn, maintaining agency culture, as we continue to work from home, remains the key concern of agency Leaders for the next twelve months.
Long-term return to office plans, as for all industries, are on hold again despite timing predictions made my leaders in the Autumn this year. What is certain is the future of working has changed for good, with agency leaders predicting that three-quarters of the workforce will continue to work part-time from home, although they believe that less than one in ten will want to work full time from home.
Sustainability is very much on everyone’s agenda with 38% of agencies having a sustainability charter in place and three-quarters of leaders placing this as a priority moving forward. Agencies believe that seven out of 10 of their clients have sustainability as a priority for their business but only 4% as a top priority.
When surveyed in Sept 2020, 3 in 4 agency employees stated that they wished to work for an agency that is committed to climate change, and 91% of staff stated that the industry had an important role to play in sustainability action because of our ability to connect with consumers.
Agency leaders are seeing some positive trends are emerging from clients including their focus on great creativity and their belief in its’ positive impact on business effectiveness. Much has been discussed about the improvements to working relationships between agencies and client marketers over the pandemic as empathy levels increased. Leaders believe that that this, more informal, and agile way of working is here to stay.
The industry is also seeing continued opportunities in social and digital with the phenomenal growth of Ecommerce and Data Science creating another revenue stream for agencies offering strategic consultancy in this space. However, the unceasing growth of the digital economy, coupled with the uncertain over the last two years, continues to contribute to short-termism and ever tighter timelines. There is also some concern over budget pressures but the intensity of work is the biggest issue as expectations have been met time and again over the pandemic and there is a real danger for the industry that this way of working has become the norm.
“It is heartening to see how pragmatic and optimistic the industry continues to be and has shown itself to be over the past two years,” says Charley Stoney, CEO, IAPI.
“As the ‘great resignation’ continues, our members have been hit particularly hard, and the pressure to plan, create, re-plan and re-create has been intense, and yet, their commercial performance this year has been extraordinary. Not only that but the increase in gender balance, in diversity of talent and in international business against this backdrop indicates that this is an industry with highly skilled and strategic leaders looking to the future with confidence.
“What does concern me is the level of wage inflation of up to 17%. I will fully support IAPI members in standing firm on rates and fees going into 2022 in order to continue paying for the best talent for their clients. I also hope that marketers are cognisant of this upwards pressure on rates and understand its’ significance. IAPI members continue to be a vital part of the growth engine for Irish businesses so paying for the best talent is critical for the sector,” she concludes.
To download a copy of the latest IAPI Census click HERE