Opportunity lies in wait for those ready to invest in a holistic career mobility strategy that offers viable options for career growth

The pandemic left an indelible mark on global business. This abrupt market force challenged leaders to re-evaluate their business model, think creatively, work collaboratively and aggressively invest in their future or risk becoming obsolete.

Unexpectedly, the global workforce also re-evaluated their lives while re-envisioning their career paths. Employee choices created the most significant business disruption, as millions of workers took control of their future by changing jobs, leading to the great resignation.

The great resignation exposed inherent risks in traditional job architecture and deficiencies in legacy people/development/career programs. Would we have experienced a mass labor disruption if leaders addressed the early warning signs of pay inequity, unclear job roles and dead-end career paths before the pandemic? Possibly. But an opportunity lies in wait for those ready to invest in a holistic career mobility strategy that offers viable options for career growth, mitigating further market risk that drains human and financial resources.

Halting a Vicious Cycle

The gap left by unfilled job roles resonates throughout organizations. Alexander Group’s research indicates that the average seller turnover increased from 2020 to 2021, 12.5% to 20% for media companies and upwards of 30% for some.1 Similarly, companies find it difficult to fill open positions. The percentage of companies reported that more than 5% of positions remain unfilled is expected to almost double from 27% in 2021 to 53% in 2022.2

Recruiting remains costly and time-consuming for HR and sales managers and results in productivity losses. Once hired, ramp-up time is six months for media sellers, which translates to $1.6M to $4.3MM loss per organic quota-carrying seller across media organizations.1 This turnover also impacts the customer. Improved employee experience leads to better customer experience and is ultimately the missing link for growth.

But the focus must still be on attracting employees who now expect clear job roles, transparent pay scales and innovative career pathways. Without these foundational aspects, employers risk losing high performers and potential candidates, as well as the new employees they have invested in but have yet to receive a return.

Media firms have rediscovered the critical role that employees play in an organization’s revenue flow and growth plans. Existing labor challenges have increased costs, limited potential revenue, restrained corporate growth and frustrated customers. By redoubling efforts to stop the vicious cycle of labor gaps, low productivity and unclear advancement options, companies aim to optimize employee experience, exceed customer expectations, limit risk, and meet and exceed their growth goals.

Investing in Institutional Change

Attracting and retaining top talent starts with a long-term, collaborative approach that provides career growth, flexibility and mobility in an environment that values the employee experience.

Employee expectations that emerged during the pandemic are now table stakes for employers and include:

  1. Additional base pay, variable pay and pay equity
  2. Flexible work arrangements that have hybrid and remote roles and flexible hours
  3. Programs that recognize and value employee contributions

Paying lip service is no longer an option. Leaders not only implement these programs but also create talent pathways that allow employees to progress and thrive within their organizations. These programs require institutional change, consistent investment and collaboration across commercial silos.

Career mobility and advancement strategies provide thoughtful and logical progression options. Employees value employers who elevate their knowledge and skills, increasing engagement. Per Alexander Group’s research, firms with engaged employees are 43% more productive, outperform the market by 28% and have 25% higher overall wellbeing.3

Job profiles, aligned competencies and a reimagined career path framework clarify sales role expectations. Starting with standardizing job profiles, employers should clearly outline tenure, performance, competency expectations and training expectations for each level within a role.

Clear job profiles define the required skills for each role, including foundational, core and functional competencies. No longer a guessing game, employers can assist employees in developing required skills and present a documented path for growth.

Finally, career paths can delineate the potential for upward movement within a job or a lateral career shift across jobs. Creative options include growing as an individual contributor, moving to a management role or taking the opportunity to move from one functional area to another.

Typically, the account management role is nice pathway into direct sales (e.g., account executive). But a budding trend in media firms is to encourage non-traditional pathways such as marketing or creative roles shifting to sales. Within sales you also see shifts across segments or offerings (e.g., field sales to enterprise sales, or field sales to strategic specialty offerings and vice versa). Ultimately, the messaging for media firms is, “We want our talent looking for other meaningful opportunities within our firm before looking elsewhere externally.”

Career paths visibly demonstrate an employee’s future course, reducing the risk of individuals searching for greener pastures.

It’s Time for a Revolution

Customers are king, but employees create the kingdom that sustains revenue. Corporate leaders have a moral obligation to serve both parties equitably.

Looking back, employees weren’t revolting because of the pandemic. Their mass re-evaluation stemmed from dissatisfaction with the status quo of unclear expectations, limited career mobility and selective advancement. Today’s workforce wants more than a paycheck. They want transparent and equitable practices centered around their development and that prepare them for the next level.  This is a win-win for the people and the entire organization.

Leaders have a choice. They can lead a revolution that helps each employee chart their own unique career path in a way that benefits the organization or insist on following a structure that no longer works. A thoughtful talent strategy allows for flexibility but is also grounded in logical competency progression. Those that lead the way by designing the talent pathways of the future will unlock a strategic advantage and will be rewarded with best-in-class talent to win in a competitive landscape.

For more information on Alexander Group’s Media Sales practice and our AdTech solutions, please contact a practice lead.

1 Alexander Group Media Sales Industry Trends Study
2 Alexander Group Sales Compensation Trends Study
3 Alexander Group Women Revenue Leaders Forum, A Purposeful Leader


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