After a turbulent 2020, the PR industry has seen a really positive surge in activity and new business causing a sharp rise in demand for PR talent. In this quickly evolving landscape, the PR sector is facing some of its toughest recruitment challenges in some time.
Why are PR agencies struggling to attract and retain talent?
During last year, many PR practitioners found themselves furloughed with very little communication or direction from their employers. This lack of engagement coupled with various changes in business direction throughout 2020 have meant some employees are questioning whether their values and long term vision align with those of their employer.
Throughout 2020, many employees felt they regained a sense of control and freedom over their time through remote working. Moreover, with 64% of the UK’s PR workforce being women, it’s important we consider the balance involved in raising a family with managing a career. Obviously, in the current climate access to grandparents and friends for childcare support is restricted, but not only that, parents and children alike have got used to spending more time together, parents (me for one!) are able to feel they are more present in their children’s lives simply by being home more, even if they are working at the same time.
So for those businesses now imposing a 5 day a week return to the office, there must be consideration given to the potential impact that will have on staff retention as many competitors are offering appealing long term flexible working.
Lack of career progression
On the whole employees understand they had to put ambitions of promotion or pay rises on hold during 2020, but as they began to see their business recovering, these desires were bound to become reignited.
The issue? Some PR firms are not providing clarity in communications surrounding how their employees can be supported to progress within the organisation. Mix this with an abundance of PR vacancies offering healthy packages and prospects and companies may be opening themselves up to losing great talent.
We talk a lot about the impact of having a positive employer brand can have on the reputation of businesses and their ability to attract candidates. For PR firms, failing to address some of the above points could have an impact on how their employer brand is perceived in the candidate market and therefore their ability to attract and retain the best talent. Meaningful time and consideration must be invested in establishing and promoting a credible employer brand. Soft benefits like duvet days or 4pm Friday drinks are not going to cut it. The talent market can see through genuine values and mission statements vs virtue signalling.
Where there are threats, there are opportunities
On the flip side, those PR firms offering strong organisational values, flexible working packages and strong career progression opportunities have a brilliant opportunity to stand out from the crowd and enjoy great talent attraction and retention throughout 2021.