Talent retention: developing future Marketing leaders


Talent retention: developing future Marketing leaders

Karen Lloyd employer, Marketing, HR...

Marketers notoriously have a case of itchy feet.  Data from Marketing Week’s career and salary survey over the past 20 years has consistently shown around 80% of marketers plan to leave their job within three years.  When the reasons for leaving were examined in 2018, limited development at their current company (37.4%), promotion (34.5%), a new challenge (54.9%) and improved financial remuneration (65.1%) were the top cited causes.

But what about the cost?  What does poor talent retention mean for the business itself?  Apart from damage to the employer brand so that future recruitment becomes more challenging, there are the costs on onboarding new employees as well as the time spent in getting them up to speed.  

What can businesses do to turn their talent retention in the marketing team around?
Digital marketing

The business needs to invest in its technology as well as its people.  Staying on the edge of the curve; upskilling existing employees rather than simply bringing in new talent.  If you do bring in new skills, then sharing those new skills amongst employees helps create multi-skilled teams.

Clear development paths

Admittedly more challenging when you are a small business, but still possible.  It might not mean role moves if roles are limited, but it can mean skill development.  

For larger businesses, start with a dedicated graduate scheme to nurture early talent.  However, it’s not formulaic – i.e. two years in as an Assistant, then time to move to an Executive role; but rather a clearly laid out path that employees can aspire to when they reach the desired skill set and experience levels.  

Handy hint; make sure that development path is salary benchmarked externally.  When you add in internal banding and salary increase caps in the process gets more complicated.  However, it can demotivate employees if they know external candidates earn significantly more than they do.  Employees are savvy – if they know roles are advertised externally, they will find them!

Marketing Job Titles

Where possible, make sure it reflects the money and duties of the role.  Often in large structures a Marketing Executive could be a £45,000 role with budget responsibility, elsewhere that would be Marketing Manager level.  Status is a key part of your career identity and is important to people, as our survey of Marketers last year showed, and it is not unknown for people to leave a role for a title change, but the same money and responsibilities.

Don’t ignore your employer brand  

You have the disadvantage in that Marketers are very switched on individuals.  With sites like Glass Door etc. your failings are made far more public than ever before.  Did you know, 69% are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand according to Glassdoor?  This needs to be embraced from CEO level down.  If the senior leadership team are not on board, then the rest of the business will struggle, and it will affect the entire company’s retention figures, not just marketing.


Embrace it!  This is an easy win to implement and a big reason for Marketers to stay in their current role.  When they are trusted by their current employer and are given freedom and flex to deliver, employees will be more encouraged to stay unless they are deeply unhappy, rather than risk their lifestyle with an unknown employer. 

Reward and recognition

Never underestimate its importance!  There are structured processes, alternatively a recognition scheme where others can nominate employees for outstanding efforts pays dividends.  Don’t ignore the softer skills such as team work in addition to hitting targets.  Reward and recognition help create a motivated and engaged team.

In conclusion, let your employees know they are valued and that you are willing to invest in them; encourage them to invest in your business, both now and in the future.  

You might be thinking – why is a recruitment business talking about this?  Surely, it’s not in their best interests?  Well, at the bottom line, maybe not.  But we believe in becoming long term partners with our clients and that means helping them to retain their existing talent as well as recruit outstanding new talent as their business grows and develops.