So last week I was with a group of CEOs and our group leader mentioned a startling statistic that caused me pause and then sent me down a bit of a research rabbit trail.
The statistic that we talked about was from this Gallup poll and it said that 85% of employees worldwide are not engaged or are actively disengaged in their job.
That’s a very grim-sounding statistic, right? These are pre-pandemic statistics from 2017. What about today? The trend is clear: American workers are quitting their jobs in record numbers.
Sure, there are plenty of engaging political discussions we could get into and political theories as to the why. But, as marketers, there is a far more important conversation we need to have.
During the pandemic, there was a lot of soul searching going on. Professionals started to second guess and think through their priorities. They engaged in training and learning new technical skills. Today, they’re looking at making decisions and moves based on these pivots they made last year.
There’s also new confidence about the future of available options and professionals feel security they didn’t necessarily have before the pandemic. In other words, there is safety and freedom if the new move doesn’t work out.
So, what about Marketers?
While I didn’t find any pre- vs. post-pandemic data for marketing jobs specifically, I did find some historical statistics that are staggering.
According to LinkedIn — the largest professional database out there — Marketing has the highest turnover rate than any other job function. In fact, the turnover rate for marketers is 50% higher than the average global turnover rate.
While the rest of the professional world is suddenly jumping from one ship to another, marketers have already been doing this for years.
Your first response may be that marketers are flaky or unable to commit.
There are many reasons marketers have a higher turnover rate than other professions.
First, let’s talk personality.
Marketers are usually more adventurous. They never seem to rest. They are unusually hungry for growth and are always looking ahead.
They also have a trait that we at WPW call an “Innate Curiosity.” The best marketers have this trait that includes a need for constant learning and soaking up of knowledge.
Are these personality traits bad?
Think about it. Imagine if someone you’re interviewing said they were adventurous, don’t rest on their laurels, are hungry for growth and have an innate curiosity. My guess is you’d be impressed and think they’d bring a refreshing change to your organization.
So aside from personality traits, why else are marketers constantly on the move?
Sit down. We need to talk.
The Unicorn in the Room
Marketing Unicorns are not real. Yet, they’re plaguing job descriptions and team expectations all over the place.
To keep myself honest, I went out to indeed.com and started a search for “Marketing Specialist.” Literally, the first listing that came up is a perfect example of what’s going on here.
So let’s look closely at the overall description of this position. first of all, they’re talking about leading, strengthening an online presence and developing a strategy. Do they want a specialist or is a leader? They often don’t go together at all. But rather than hire a leader and a specialist, they assume they can find both in a single person.
This “specialist” will design digital advertising campaigns, email marketing campaigns social media blog content, be the analyst, handle SEO, manage press outlets and industry associations… and by the way, it’s great if they could speak Spanish.
This is not a specialist. This is not even a generalist. This is a marketing unicorn.
This listing also stated that this position would make $600 a week. So…ummm… yea… a cheap unicorn, at that.
Now, I’ve had people argue with me on this. Saying, “I know marketing unicorns, they’re amazing,” or, “I was a marketing unicorn back in the day.”
Okay… if you were a marketing unicorn, how long did you stick with that? How long is the marketing unicorn that you know now going to stick around? Not to mention, is that unicorn producing results? Are they happy, healthy, and thriving in a well-balanced role with work/life balance? Important questions.
Ways to Get Past the Unicorn Syndrome
First, look at the marketing skill sets that you need on your team. Figure out the exact mix of what your company needs and your strategy demands.
Next, look carefully at how you distribute this list across your team.
Finally…and most importantly… ask yourself the following:
Does this do right by the Customer, the Company and the Employee?
If your answer is no…you don’t necessarily have to hire a bunch of new employees with tremendous overhead.
You can supplement with an agency partner. The right agency partner will complement your existing team that exists today, provide relief after large attrition, or help you to regain or reset strategic focus.
Marketers Seeking a Change: It Starts With You
If you’re a marketer who’s feeling cringy as you read this and realize just how much you need a change — it starts with you.
To fight that unicorn syndrome and to achieve greater job satisfaction, you need to take charge of your career, your purpose, and your future.
Where to Start
Start by taking a professional inventory. For a full explanation of this, watch this video.
By doing this, you’ll:
- Document what you love to do (and what you don’t love to do so much)
- Understand your “why.”
- Create a vision for what’s next in your career
When you find purpose, you find confidence. And when you have confidence, you have better conversations with your manager, assess open positions with a sharper eye and take charge with a newfound motivation.
Open a document or a blank sheet of paper…
Divide it into three columns.
The LOVE Column
Your love column includes what enjoy most and most importantly why you enjoy those things.
The HATE Column
Yes, I’m using the “H” word here. We all have things that we literally hate to do in our jobs every day. It doesn’t mean that we’ll never have to do them, but it’s good to jot them down.
The EXPLORE Column
What piques your interest? What haven’t you done yet or only had a small taste of?
For more on this process, watch this time-linked clip: Taking Charge with a Professional Inventory.
Will things change?
The nature of marketers may not change, but will this turnover statistic follow us forever? We, as an industry can do better. We need to nurture our best talent and determine what’s best for the customer, for the company, and for the employee.
So what are your thoughts on this? Is this something that you would like a workshop on?
Talking about the unicorn in the room isn’t enough. We need to do something about it.