Marketers are feeling marginally more optimistic about employment prospects at their companies over the coming months, in spite of heightened ambiguity around the future of the UK and ongoing financial pressures.
According to the IPA Bellwether, the net balance of firms planning to hire extra staff rose to 5.1% in the second quarter, up from Q1’s record low of 2.7%.
However, hiring intentions were still subdued overall. While 22% of panellists plan to boost employment over the next three months, around 17% are set to cut staffing levels, with the remaining 61% anticipating no change.
“Muted recruitment plans come at a time where economic prospects in the UK have turned increasingly fragile,” says Joe Hayes, author of the Bellwether report and an economist at IHS Markit.
“The UK economy looks set to stagnate or possibly contract in the second quarter, while uncertainty regarding Brexit continues to linger. Additional risk has been introduced through the impending change in political leadership, with anecdotal evidence from the Bellwether survey suggesting that firms have adopted a cautious approach in the face of heightened ambiguity.”
Other risks were also noted, such as rising cost and competitive pressures, which have reportedly put a strain on hiring.
Still, the Bellwether suggests some businesses are looking to be pro-active amid these challenges. Where job creation was expected, panel comments indicate that technological development and innovation had prompted them to search for highly skilled recruits to support growth opportunities.
Marketing budget growth, meanwhile, has stalled. After a surprise return to growth in the opening three months of the year, the net balance of marketers increasing spend fell from 8.7% to 0.0% in the second quarter.
However – and in a sign that marketers are investing in long-term brand health – main media budgets (which includes channels such as TV, radio, outdoor and cinema) saw their highest growth in two years.
Overall, a net balance of 5.6% of companies reported greater main media marketing budgets, up from 5.2% in Q1 and 4.9% in the same quarter a year ago.