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Marketing, Communications and Creative Industry Looks Set to Ride Out the Downturn

Marketing, Communications and Creative Industry Looks Set to Ride Out the Downturn

According to The Aquent Orange Book 2008-2009, a salary survey and monitor of key Asia Pacific and European markets for the marketing, communications and creative industry, the average staff turnover rates appear to be stabilising or even improving across the countries surveyed in Asia Pacific when compared to the previous edition of the survey.

“There are two indicators of skills shortage – high staff turnover and rising salaries. For the first time all companies in The Aquent Orange Book reported lower average turnover rates, with the exception of Hong Kong,” said Steven Pang, Regional Director, Asia, Aquent.

The survey was conducted in the first quarter of 2008, and the best improvement was seen in Australia with a 17% turnover rate in 2007 as compared to 28% in 2005. Malaysia (21% in 2007; 25% in 2005), New Zealand (21%; 25%), Korea (12%; 15%), China (17%; 19%), Japan (11%; 12%) and Singapore (18%; 19%) saw single-digit improvements. Hong Kong’s staff turnover rates were 23% in 2007 and 18% in 2005.

Talent-starved industry will weather downturn

“The improved stability comes in the backdrop of a tight talent market that is finally improving. In the last five years we were faced with a shortage of experienced talent across the region and only recently do we see supply meeting demand,” commented Steven.

“New and innovative digital and communication technologies have revolutionised the creative industry. There is a demand for people in the digital media arena and those able to integrate digital into the overall marketing mix. Jobs were being created as companies embarked on sophisticated projects to reach out to tech-savvy consumers, which they are unlikely to abandon even with the downturn.”

The situation is clearly evident in Singapore where over 90% of employees in creative departments in digital agencies and in digital departments in media agencies have been with the same company for less than two years.

Trend to hire freelance/temporary/contract staff

For the Asia Pacific region, more than 30% of companies surveyed predict to increase freelance/temporary/contract staff in the coming year. Employers in Singapore (46%) are amongst the forerunners alongside their counterparts in Korea (55%), China (43%), Malaysia (42%), Australia (33%) and Hong Kong (32%).

“Companies hire freelance/temporary/contract staff typically to assist with additional projects, during seasonal peak periods, when specialist skills are required and when there is an unpredicted workload. With the expected cooling of the economy, companies are unlikely to find replacements when staff resign, and flexible workforce becomes a good short term solution for hiring freeze,” shared Steven.

Keeping the top talents in Singapore

The Aquent Orange Book found that the primary retention strategies among Singapore organisations with a staff turnover of 10 percent and less are discretionary bonuses (65%), internal training (58%), career development programmes (54%) and flexible work practices (54%).

“As the labour market matures, it is fascinating to learn that candidates in these commercial markets value professional development and flexibility so highly,” said James Koh, Director, Singapore, Aquent.

“Our research now provides empirical data to show that money and other traditional drivers of job satisfaction are simply not enough alone to attract and retain key employees anymore.”

Retention is vital for employers, given the high average turnover recorded for certain sectors, including advertising agency account management (25 percent), and media agencies (19 percent).

It would appear that when employers offer opportunities for flexible work arrangements to staff in time of emergencies, such as working from home, flexible hours and special leave arrangements, it would contribute to a more committed and loyal workforce.

Sourcing strategies new to The Aquent Orange Book

For the first time sourcing strategies was surveyed in The Aquent Orange Book.

Across Asia Pacific, for both hiring managers and employees, the top four strategies are word-of-mouth/referrals (67% and 62% respectively), using recruitment agencies (64% and 68%), job websites (52% and 69%) and internal transfers/promotion (31% and 22%).

Singapore echoed the region’s response: word-of-mouth/referrals (81% and 75% respectively), using recruitment agencies (59% and 71%), internal transfers/promotion (47% and 31%) and job websites (30% and 49%).

“In Europe, we are seeing a trend of utilising social networking sites as a preferred method for seeking employment. Leading the pack are Germany, France and Poland with more than 30% of candidates and 13% to 18% of employers using social networking sites as a tool for sourcing talent. The figures are significantly lower for Asia Pacific with no greater than 9% of both employers and candidates across Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore doing so. This might change in time to come,” commented James.

About Aquent

Aquent is the leading global staffing firm specialising in helping companies find marketing, communications and creative talent. With 73 offices in 18 countries, they have an unmatched network of professionals that enables them to deliver the right solution for any client need and provide exceptional career opportunities for their talent. Today Aquent has over 11,000 professionals working at over 3,000 companies. Over the course of its history, Aquent has made over half a million matches of professionals to our clients on an individual, team or through an onsite or offsite managed service basis. The company’s Asia-Pacific headquarters are in Sydney.

About the Aquent Orange Book

Now in its fifth year, The Aquent Orange Book is an industry reference document on salaries and hiring trends published in two editions – Asia Pacific and Europe. Internationally, the Aquent Orange Book covers the following categories, among others: marketing, market research, creative, design, digital, advertising, MICE, publishing, editorial, media, PR and communications, and is targeted towards senior managers.

The survey provides salary information, detailed statistics on staff turnover, retention strategies, talent sourcing strategies, salary increase percentages and forecasts on permanent and contract hiring trends.

For more information on the Aquent Orange Book, please contact Carolyn Hyams, Asia Pacific Marketing Strategy Manager on +61 2 8288 8288 or

Media Contact
Greg TING Wee Liang
Filament Public Relations
Mobile: +65 9791 7870


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