Job prospects for marketers fell to their lowest levels in three years as firms look to contain costs and protect profit margins in the fact of political and economic uncertainty.
The IPA’s Bellwether report, found that a net balance of just 1.4% of marketers expect overall employment to be higher in three months’ time compared to now. Some 65.6% expect levels to stay the same, 16.5% to see a decrease and 17.9% an increase.
The report has asked this question exclusively for Marketing Week since the third quarter of 2016. And in three years of data, prospects have never been lower.
The 1.4% is below the net balance of just 2.7% seen the last time a Brexit deadline was imminent, and well behind the 17.2% recorded just a year ago.
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“Political and economic uncertainty remain notable risks to the hiring outlook, with firms looking to contain costs and protect profit margins by freezing their budgets,” says IHS Markit economist and report author Joe Hayes.
“An underlying sense of uncertainty and indecisiveness was also highlighted by approximately two-thirds of panellists reporting no expected change to employment at their firms.
“Nevertheless, some businesses went against the grain and took a more pro-active approach, looking to expand their workforces in order to drive innovation and efficiency.”
Uncertainty is not the only cause of the reduced optimism around hiring. Marketers also reported labour shortages and difficulties in hiring suitably-skilled staff as ongoing issues.
The weakening outlooks for jobs comes amid a general dampening of business confidence. Bellwether found that marketers views on company and industry-wide prospects have fallen to their lowest levels for seven years, while ad budgets were cut for the first time in seven years.
However, IPA director general Paul Bainsfair warns marketers against the “false economy” of cutting marketing spend when things get tough.
He says: “It’s a false economy to cut one’s ad budget when things look uncertain. The evidence shows that far from being prudent, it can have a negative long-term effect on growth. Companies that hold their nerve consistently, and that invest in the 60:40 ratio of longer-term brand building to shorter-term sales activation, outperform the market.”
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