And for good reason. Still battening-down-the-hatches, the dilemma for brands remains whether to hike salaries to remain competitive. After all, it costs a lot of money to replace good people, with the truly talented not governed by the rules of recession.
With this in mind, what should we take out from this year’s Marketing Rewards survey, published exclusively this week by Marketing? There is some evidence of a levelling of pay’s unequal playing field, though some bumps remain, and one big surprise.
1. The good news is that while the pay gap between men and women is still evident, it appears to be closing. In 2011, the difference between the genders was more than 16%; today the disparity has shrunk to just under 3%.
2. The pay freeze, that morale-crushing hallmark of a static or declining economy, is thankfully starting to thaw, though not significantly. A fifth of respondents told Croner their salary had not increased since last year.
3. Average salaries rose by 2.5%, hardly enough to keep today's marketers from looking for better and higher paying opportunities.
4. Those for whom money is the chief motivator, the message in this year’s study is ‘head North’ where, according to Marketing Rewards, they can command salaries more four per cent higher than in the South East.
This is not as incredible as it first seems. One financial services CMO I know, living in Wimbledon with his children but commuting weekly to his firm’s HQ nearly three hours away, did so for salary and benefits that topped £250,000. He was top notch talent, and his employer valued his services enough to compensate him for his partial relocation from London.
So do marketers have a legitimate beef about unfair pay? Perhaps this is beside the point. The spectre of job cuts in 2013 is a real one, with Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo and others promising a reduction in headcounts.
If brands bank on retaining marketers based on the privilege of working for those companies, that privilege should result in quality training, stronger CVs and better non-monetary benefits.
5. There’s evidence that brands have woken up to this, with nine out of 10 marketers reporting job satisfaction.
It begs the question: just how important is money to marketers? For the future health of the industry, it is vital for brands to understand this, amongst the other needs and aspirations of their marketing employees.
Yes, money talks but according to this survey, not at all costs and not during a downturn.
Noelle McElhatton is editor of Marketing
Follow her on Twitter @n_mcelhatton