While more than a third of marketers expect to see new hires over the next three months, expansion plans have begun to tail off since hitting a peak last year.

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Marketers continued to signal “strong” hiring intentions within their firms at the end of 2021, according to research created exclusively for Marketing Week.

Amid the rapid spread of Covid-19’s newest variant Omicron and rising cost pressures on businesses, the latest data from the IPA Bellwether report reveals almost four in 10 marketers (37.7%) expect their companies to increase staffing levels over the next three months.

With only 9.8% of panellists anticipating job losses, and approximately half (52.5%) expecting staff levels to remain the same, the report records a net balance of 27.9% of firms planning to hire.

While high, the figure reveals a softening in hiring intentions since the previous quarter. A net balance of 38.7% of marketers had expected their firms to recruit additional staff at the time, the highest level since the third quarter of 2016. More companies were planning to hire than stay at the same level of employment, at 46.6% versus 45.5%.

Higher Same Lower Net +/-
Q3 2020 12.4% 43.8% 43.8% -31.5%
Q4 2020 21.8% 55.3% 22.9% -1.2%
Q1 2021 29.9% 58.1% 12.0% +17.9%
Q2 2021 42.6% 47.5% 9.8% +32.8%
Q3 2021 46.6% 45.5% 7.9% +38.7%
Q4 2021 37.7% 52.5% 9.8% +27.9%

Nevertheless, the report says the most recent data is still a “promising sign” for business growth prospects. However, the recruitment environment is expected to be “challenging”.

“Plans to hire additional staff came amid numerous reports
of staff shortages, reflecting high Covid-19 infection rates and staff in quarantine, as well as challenges finding suitably skilled workers,” the report explains.

“We also saw some Bellwether panellists mention pressures on wages due to heightened competition for staff across the UK labour market. According to some firms, additional resources have been allocated to retaining staff with skills in high demand.”

Hiring intentions were in positive territory throughout 2021, following a year of redundancies, furlough and pay cuts as the onset of Covid wreaked havoc on businesses.‘A hot commodity’: Why brands are struggling to hire marketing specialists

In September, data compiled exclusively for Marketing Week by job site Reed revealed a 302% rise in opportunities for marketers in the six months to August 2021 compared to the same period the previous year.

Marketing managers were in particularly high demand, accounting for more than one in 10 roles. Positions paying between £25,000 and £50,000 were most in demand, accounting for 65% of available vacancies.

Meanwhile, competition for digital and performance marketers has been extremely hot, with former Purplebricks CMO Ben Carter telling Marketing Week last year he and his peers at other brands were struggling to hire specialists.

As a result of the intense competition in the recruitment environment, senior marketing salaries were jumping by as much as 50%, according to executive search firm Grace Blue.

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