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UK Design and Digital employees planning their exit

UK Design and Digital employees planning their exit

Nearly two-fifths (38%) of UK design and digital agency staff are either definitely or possibly intending to change employers when the recession ends.

That’s according to the Design Industry Voices Survey 2009 by Fairley & Associates, Gabriele Skelton and On Pointe Marketing.

Research for the report was carried out online between 15-24 October 2009 amongst people who work within UK design and digital agencies.

The report further highlights that the likeliest people to consider leaving their jobs are those that are responsible for day-to-day client satisfaction and delivery.

Some 36% of directors, 53% of managers and 47% of coordinators and assistants intend to change employer when the recession ends, compared to only 19% of the executive team.

Strategists are least likely to change employer (21%). Designers (43%), account managers (44%) and those working in other roles in the agency (36%) are most likely to leave.

Of those intending to leave, almost three quarters (73%) intend to stay in the same field. The rest either don’t know or intend to do something different. A substantial change in those responsible for the day-to-day client satisfaction and delivery may have an impact on the agency’s ability to service and farm existing clients. There is also a risk of losing knowledge and experience.

Agencies are likely to face the need for financial and time investment in the recruitment and training of new talent which they can ill afford.

Stef Brown, Managing Director of On Pointe Marketing, says,  “Agencies are all about people. Building relationships and satisfying existing clients is one of the best ways to weather any downturn.

“If agencies start losing the key staff that delivers the work, they risk damaging those relationships to the point where clients may decide to look elsewhere. They also risk being so stretched that they’re unable to seize new opportunities as the market begins to pick up.”

Perceived agency delivery gap is major factor in deciding whether to stay or go In the survey, respondents were presented with a series of attributes listed as statements. They were first asked how important each attribute is to them personally.

Respondents were then asked how well they feel their agency is currently performing against each attribute. An agency delivery gap is defined as the difference between an attribute’s level of personal importance versus the respondent’s perception of how well the agency performs against it.

All respondents broadly agree on which attributes are important to them personally. However, employees who intend to change job perceive bigger agency delivery gaps than those who wish to stay.

The median delivery gap is 19% for all respondents. However, for those intending to leave the median delivery gap is 36% while just 13% for those intending to stay – an average difference of 23% between those intending to leave and those intending to stay.

The five attributes in which there is the greatest difference of opinion between those intending to leave and those intending to stay are: ‘rewards people for going the extra mile’ (39% difference); ‘has a management team that demonstrates strong leadership skills’ (35% difference); ‘helps employees to manage stress’ (33% difference); ‘supports professional development and growth’ (32% difference); and ‘is quick to change in reaction to new situations’ (29% difference).

Rachel Fairley, Managing Director of Fairley & Associates, says: “Employees agree on what makes a good agency and on how their agencies are letting them down. For two-fifths, enough is enough.

“It isn’t about money; everyone knows money is tight. It is about respect and appreciation. Agencies must empower their managers to lead, coach and nurture their teams so employees are involved in ensuring their agency’s and their personal success.”

Crucial deficits in agency performance in the psychosocial work environment For those intending to leave, the attributes where the delivery gap is greatest are in the psychosocial work environment such as job demands, job control and workplace support/training.

Jobs with high demands and high control are generally considered the most rewarding whereas jobs with high demands, low control and poor workplace support are worst for mental and physical health.

The five attributes with greatest perceived delivery gap for those intending to leave are: ‘rewards people for going the extra mile’ (64%); ‘supports professional development and growth’ (60%); ‘provides training’ (55%); ‘helps employees to manage stress’ (55%); ‘appropriate workload for staffing levels’ (53%). Karina Beasley, Managing Director of

Gabriele Skelton, says, “As a recruiter, of course we are reliant on people moving from one agency to another. However, we also want our agency clients to thrive, and from the results of our research, many are risking their future success by not paying attention to nurturing, and therefore, retaining their employees.

“Bearing in mind the level of redundancies in the first half of 2009, many agencies are now down to teams comprised entirely of their key people – the very people they can least afford to lose when the upturn comes. It is vital that they look at how to reward and recognise their people – something which doesn’t have to cost a fortune.”

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