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Industry risks staff exodus due to low pay and poor prospects

Declining job satisfaction is leading to low staff morale and churn across the industry, according to the first Drapers Salary Survey published this week.

According to snap polls conducted by Drapers, 68% of head office staff have taken on additional responsibilities without being promoted or given a pay rise in the past 12 months. More than a third (36%) are looking or will look for another role in the next 12 months. Almost half (41%) said a pay rise would most convince them to change jobs and 36% said a role with better career progression would lure them away.

The issue is more widespread on the shop floor, with 71% of staff saying they have taken on additional responsibilities without being promoted – or given a pay rise. Half of respondents said they are looking, or planning to look for, another role. Almost half (47%) of store staff said they’d had no pay rise in the past 12 months. The same number said a role with better career progression would most convince them to switch jobs.

At fashion brands, it is not much better. Nearly four-fifths (79%) of brand staff have taken on more responsibilities without being promoted, causing 50% to look for or consider another job. Half said better career progression would most convince them to change jobs.

Industry watchers have suggested that job satisfaction has been decreasing significantly over the past three years, mostly due to cost pressures on companies to reduce headcount and restructure in a tough economic climate.

This is resulting in a higher turnover of staff, but because there are fewer opportunities churn is not as high as would be expected. Staff that stay have low morale, while others are considering leaving the industry.

Buyers are also finding that development is increasingly being done over email due to a lack of travel funds, resulting in a less effective process than if it were done face to face.

One brand owner agreed that job satisfaction had declined and that growth prospects were key to retaining staff.

A buyer at one retailer told Drapers: “I’m doing two people’s roles and working much later. Everyone is. We’ve had wage freezes and even had stationery spend cut. We’re under so much pressure and aren’t as happy or as creative.”

The buyer explained that being unable to take her assistant on buying trips had meant she spent less time finding new suppliers, and cramming in visits with existing ones. Development work is being done increasingly over email due to lack of travel funds.

She said: “Development is not going to be as effective as it would be if you were doing it face to face. You have a lack of control over sample times. Morale is really low. A lot of people are looking elsewhere due to concerns over money. Some colleagues are now thinking of alternative careers.”

 

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