atisfaction: the Rolling Stones can't get any, and according to the results from our 2010 Salary
Survey, neither can our readers. While base salary and additional compensation have increased since 2009, the percentage of survey respondents who reported being "very dissatisfied" with their jobs doubled during that same time.
Furthermore, 58 percent of respondents indicated their compensation was low relative to their job responsibilities, compared to just 51 percent in 2009. Pair those statistics with data that indicates a 5-percent uptick in the number of exhibit and event professionals who work 50 or more hours per week (and the fact that 54 percent are making the same salary - or less - as they were 12 months ago), and it's not surprising that many feel overworked and underpaid.
Those feelings aren't confined to our industry. A poll conducted by human-resources consultant Right Management and cited in an article by The Wall Street Journal found that 60 percent of workers intend to leave their jobs when the market gets better.
Based on verbatim responses to open-ended questions in our salary survey, it appears a primary force behind that potential mass exodus is the downturn in morale caused by heavy cost cutting and downsizing. As exhibit and event professionals have been asked to take on more responsibility and work more hours (and do it all without a comparable increase in salary), they have begun to feel less personal fulfillment in their roles. Furthermore, many feel they are making major sacrifices when it comes to their personal lives, but are not seeing a return - financial or otherwise. In other words, they lack a work/life balance.
The problem is, most of the people who thrive in our fast-paced industry fall into the personality type of "The Achiever." While only 5 to 7 percent of the general population gets lumped in this behavioral bucket, an informal psychographic survey of exhibit managers in 2009 found that a near majority (48 percent) can be defined as achievers. And achievers are typically workaholics, regularly putting in 12-
to 16-hour workdays in their quest for financial wealth and professional status.
What's more, an additional 20 percent of those surveyed were
categorized as "Emulators" who are also predisposed to workaholic status in an effort to be viewed as professional.
Simply put, nearly seven out of 10 exhibit and event managers lack the ability to step back and recalibrate their contributions if and when they are unable to negotiate a salary or reward they feel adequately compensates them. Why? They are hardwired to give 110 percent, and if they don't obtain a level of reward they deem adequate, they're more likely to go in search of greener
pastures than to punch out at 5 p.m. and leave work at work.
Corporate cutbacks have forced these marketers, who were already overworking themselves, to kick it into even higher gear. All the while, they are foregoing bonuses and raises (which, whether due to the financial rewards or the psychological kudos, are essential when it comes to the morale of achievers and emulators).
It might be too late to avoid the resulting turnover predicted in the WSJ article. Online job board Dice.com asked members what could persuade them to stay in their jobs if they found another opportunity. More than 57 percent said nothing could persuade them to stay, while 42 percent wanted a higher salary.
Will our industry see a tectonic shift as the economy starts to improve and seasoned marketers jump ship? Will salaries spike in 2011 as management ponies up the dough to retain - and re-motivate - employees? Or will the sketchy job market continue to force marketers to stay put, trading job satisfaction for a perceived sense of job security?e