Apr 12 2022
Clare McKinley

The Great Resignation Demands a Streamlined Workflow


The Great Resignation: the name alone is enough to strike fear in the hearts of employers and inspiration in the minds of workers. Why? Beyond the face-level implication of workers quitting en masse for better opportunities, the phrase harkens back to the Great Recession and the Great Depression, two culturally transformative—and, for many, traumatic—periods of time.

What is the Great Resignation, Really?

Many have written about the accuracy of the name that’s attached to the phenomenon. Some say it misses the point completely, while others argue that the Great Renegotiation, the Great Discontent, or even the Great Retirement would be more apt. So what’s really going on, and what does it mean for those of us working in advertising and digital marketing?

It's true that a record number of people quit their jobs in 2021. In September alone, 4.4 million Americans quit—that's more than the entire population of Los Angeles! However, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the current quit rate isn’t a short-term trend spurred only by the pandemic. Instead, we've seen an acceleration of a long-term pattern: before COVID-19 struck, the monthly quit rate had increased by 0.1 percentage point each year from 2009 to 2019. The takeaway? A trend that’s been building for more than a decade isn’t going to end any time soon.

While there are many factors influencing quit rates, employee satisfaction is—both intuitively and statistically—one of the big ones. Gallup's State of the Global Workplace: 2021 Report found that 80 percent of global workers are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. Another study from Zety found that 75% of respondents chose “more meaningful work” as a major factor attracting them to a new job.

Professional Dissatisfaction in Digital Marketing

Consider the following statistics to understand how the Great Resignation is playing out in the digital marketing industry:

  • More than one-third of advertising professionals plan to leave their current positions within the next two years.
  • Less than 25% of advertising professionals are completely satisfied with any one aspect of their job.
  • Advertising professionals report spending an average of six hours per week on low-value, repetitive tasks.

For marketers, professional dissatisfaction is one of the leading causes of resignation increases—and for good reason. The marketing landscape has grown increasingly fragmented and complex, forcing marketers to contend with many disparate technologies and point solutions—media buyers report using an average of nine platforms over the course of a campaign—and massive amounts of siloed, low-quality data.

As a result, marketers report dissatisfaction due to three key pain points:

  • A frustratingly complex matrix of point-solutions
  • A lack of high-quality, role-related education
  • A feeling of underemployment or an inability to meet goals due to time spent on low-value tasks

It’s clear that too many marketers aren’t getting to do enough of the creative, strategic, collaborative work that makes the field fun and fulfilling. When employees leave for what they hope are greener pastures, their short-staffed teams must then find and train quality replacements—tasks that marketing professionals report as top challenges. The company must also contend with a loss of valuable client-related and institutional knowledge that walks out the door with their former employee. To add insult to injury, replacing exiting workers costs an average of one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary.

Programmatic advertising calls for even more education than other types of media buying—programmatic ranks second in terms of marketing skills that are most difficult to staff and require the most training (strategizing is number one). At the same time, programmatic ad spending will represent 91% of US digital display ad spend by 2023. That adds up to one big yikes for agencies and brands looking to retain quality programmatic talent for more than a few years at a time.

How Advertising Automation Can Streamline Workflow

Enough doomsday talk—let’s get to the light at the end of the tunnel. If the complexity and fragmentation that characterize the digital marketing space are leading causes of employee dissatisfaction, how can agencies and brands lessen that complexity, carve out more time for the creative and strategic work that media professionals enjoy, and retain their team members as a result?

Automation provides solutions for many of marketing professional’s pain points. Workflow automation, for example, consolidates disparate tasks in the media buying process—such as planning, buying, optimization, reporting, and financial processes—into one streamlined system.

Additionally, reporting automation can help digital marketers avoid the tedious, error-prone manual work that’s often involved with analyzing data. In contrast to the fragmented systems that force marketers to stitch together campaign data from various channels and vendors using Excel or Google Sheets, reporting automation consolidates data and generates reports from a single place. Billing automation provides the same benefits, integrating delivery reports and invoices for easier and more accurate financial reconciliations.

According to industry studies, marketing professionals report that successful workflow automation would allow more time for strategic thinking and creativity, more time for optimization and analysis, and an overall increase in productivity. By tapping into automated solutions, brands and agencies can decrease the time employees have to spend on boring and frustrating tasks, as well as the margin of human error inherent in those tasks. In solving their team’s biggest pain points, they’ll both retain and build trust with the people that work for them, while decreasing the loss of money and legacy knowledge that comes with high rates of turnover.

Want to learn more about the pain points causing employee dissatisfaction, how agencies and brands are impacted by the great resignation, and solutions to alleviate both? Check out our report on Complexity, Job Satisfaction, and Automation in Digital Media.

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