Keeping talent in the marketing research industry 

Editor’s note: Daniel Wilberschied is the executive recruiter at Smith Hanley Associates. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “How to Attract and Keep Talent in the Market Research Space.”

Today, the pool of talent in the market research space is limited and candidate standards are high. Which is a good thing! Candidate expectations have been a major driving force in change across both agency and client-side organizations. There are numerous things that entry level and early career researchers are looking for in their careers. From the obvious ones like salary and growth to the more unique like recognition and social impact. Here are a few of the most common qualities candidates are looking for when considering companies and their next career move.

Remote work and flexibility

The expectation of flexibility is twofold from prospective employees, not only in the traditional sense of work-life balance but also in career growth. Rightfully so, the younger professionals are looking for better work-life balance in comparison to previous generations and are looking to work somewhere that allows them to work remotely regularly. This should not come as a surprise to anyone as it has been a trend across all industries.

The flexibility of remote work and the draw it is for candidates cannot be understated. Nearly 75% of Americans surveyed by GoodHire say that they would need continued remote work offerings to stay with their current employer. Adding fuel to that fire is that only 15% of candidates will apply to roles that are back to full time office work. Some sort of remote or hybrid set up is the bare minimum for many candidates early in their careers. The talent in the market research space is focused on having better work-life balance.

While traditional work-life balance is important, many are also focused on understanding a roles growth and trajectory from day one. Having a clear outline of metrics and steps to achieve more responsibility goes a long way towards showing your employees and potential candidates that internal growth is something that is taken seriously as an organization. 

Making an impact and incentives

Another large consideration is being disengaged or underappreciated in the workplace. A bigger piece of this is whether an individual feels like the work they do is impactful to the firm or society. A recent study by daVinci found that 80% of workers would be more loyal to their company if they felt that there was a chance to receive recognition/rewards for their work. If employees or candidates do not get the sense that they and their work are valued, it may begin to inform their decision.

It is also important to note that every person feels valued differently and their motivations are a broad spectrum. Some individuals will thrive off public acknowledgement while others are looking for one-on-one positive feedback. Doing more to understand someone’s motivations and having a clear path to acknowledgement and recognition is something that engages candidates and employees. Have a plan in place and do your best as leadership and HR to check in on employees regularly to make sure they feel seen and appreciated for their abilities and contributions.

Company culture, community and DEI efforts

Diversity and Equity Inclusion (DEI) is something at the forefront of many young professionals’ minds. DEI is usually tied to the culture of an organization and how seriously a company takes DEI often informs a candidate’s decision. The benefits of strong DEI are clear for an organization and includes boosting productivity through diverse perspectives and innovative problem-solving, building a competitive edge with more diverse teams and increasing brand loyalty through employee trust and advocacy.

The benefits in your employees day-to-day life is not as obvious. Diverse teams tend to feel safe and respected in the workplace. Promoting DEI tends to lead to a stronger sense of community and increased productivity as employees feel a sense of belonging within their teams. The talent in the market research space is striving for more diversity in their teams and organizations.

Similar values and purpose

According to a Gartner poll 52% of participants have questioned their impact or purpose at their organization since the pandemic. Allowing employees to work on projects and research that they are passionate about is important to their day-to-day happiness and their overall viewpoint of an organization. Wanting the work to be meaningful and motivating also ties into a firms values. Working somewhere that shares your values and viewpoint of the world is becoming a larger factor in employee considerations. A Qualtrics study found that 54% of employees would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a firm with similar values. Finding balance across values and purpose is important for candidates to see in their perspective employer

Maintaining industry professionals 

Being attractive to candidates is harder now than it may have ever been. Having the ability to show candidates you are aware of more than just salary as a driving factor is important. Know who you are as an organization and see where you can improve in these areas. Though salary is still the largest consideration when looking for opportunities, candidates are evaluating every aspect of a company’s persona before deciding on a position.