The number of staff working in digital and design agencies intending to move job next year is at a four year high, according to a new report published today.
The Design Industry Voices report (DOWNLOAD HERE) by Fairley & Associates, Gabriele Skelton and On Pointe Marketing is now in its fourth year and shows how small firms have suffered during the ongoing economic crisis. It reveals increasing instability with fewer permanent staff, more freelancers, more unpaid interns and agencies being asked by clients to do more work for less money.
The annual survey - of almost 500 agency staff - paints a picture of the squeeze experienced by small firms during the UK's double dip back into recession this year.
Agencies are experiencing more staff turnover than ever, since the recession began in 2008:
Businesses and design agencies are also failing to seize the opportunity of the 'Blue Pound'. They are not designing websites or communications to be accessible to people with disabilities. 10 million disabled people live in the UK with a combined annual spending power in excess of £80 billion - the Blue Pound.*
Rachel Fairley, lead author of the new research and MD of Fairley & Associates, said:
"Design and digital firms are feeling the squeeze from the UK's double dip into recession during the last year. Businesses are demanding more work from agencies for less money to make up for their budget cuts. They are also demanding safer work and solutions, which will not achieve the business objectives and do nothing to enhance agencies' or clients' reputation as being at the forefront of innovation. The opportunity to address the needs the 10 million disabled people who live in the UK has yet to be seized. Less than one in ten clients ask for designs to be accessible to people with disabilities and less than half of agency staff know how to design in a way that improves accessibility."
Karina Beasley, co-author and MD of Gabriele Skelton, said:
"59% of design and digital agency staff say they are ready to quit. They perceive a crisis of leadership within their agencies, and part of the issue is that owners have a rosier view of agency performance than their staff. The soaring use of freelancers is driving many permanent workers to take contracts, so talent is harder to find. Agencies are busy and there is work out there, but it's definitely a case of 'more for less'. There is a general sense of instability. We hope 2013 will be better as agencies adjust to working with smaller budgets and more smartly. But it's vital that their business strategy is better communicated so that staff know what to expect."
Stef Brown, co-author and MD of On Pointe Marketing, said: "Seven out of ten say clients expect more work in pitches for free. Social media was rife with free pitch examples in 2012, and some agencies are even beginning to name and shame those brands that are asking for free pitches. Times are tough, and it's all too easy to over-deliver in pitch and give too much away, especially when your peers have jumped on that bandwagon. But consider this – the act of giving Intellectual Property away commoditises services. This undermines clients' appreciation of the value of agency expertise and they then may refuse to pay a premium for those services. If enough agencies take a stand and stop this practice, clients will follow suit."