How Can Fashion Brands Attract the Right Talent?

The fashion and retail industry is at odds over job satisfaction – particularly with its most sought-after digital talent – according to the 2013 Salary and Job Market Report by 24 Seven Inc., the international search firm specializing in marketing, creative and digital talent for the fashion and retail industries.

Surprisingly, the study found that 76 percent of fashion and retail executives surveyed feel pressured to identify high-potential talent within their organizations, yet only 42 percent have a formalized strategy.

"It's time for fashion and retail companies, particularly those looking to attract top talent in the digital and creative spaces, to get as connected and competitive with their benefit offerings as they've always been with their products," said Celeste Gudas, president of 24 Seven Inc.

"Retail leadership must consider each of their talent touch-points – compensation, career development and traditional and soft benefits – to establish an attractive employment brand that drives job satisfaction and loyalty," she added.

The seventh annual study surveyed more than 1,300 fashion and retail professionals ranging from the executive suite to the retail floor, and across categories including apparel, footwear, accessories and sports.

Key findings of the study include:
  • Conflicting benefit priorities: The retail industry continues to offer traditional benefit packages (i.e. medical, dental, discounted merchandise, life insurance, and 401k plans), but the priorities of its talent pool have changed dramatically, with life balance benefits dominating the list. Digital talent's most desired benefits include: medical (76 percent); summer hours/comp days (33 percent); flex time/telecommuting (26 percent); 401k with match (17 percent); international travel (8 percent).
  • Ready to move: While 77 percent of fashion and retail professionals reported an increase in total compensation since 2012, job loyalty remains extremely low with 89 percent of digital talent saying they're open to making a career move within the next year. Salary tops the list of reasons to move with 72 percent of digital talent citing higher base salaries among their top reasons to change jobs, followed by better growth potential (51 percent), improved quality of life (34 percent) and better advancement opportunities (33 percent).
  • Keeping them up at night: Staying professionally relevant and employable is the number one issue keeping digital talent up at night (38 percent). This is followed closely by a lack of clear career direction/path, which was ranked as the number one concern by the broader fashion and retail talent base, despite a lack attention to career development on the part of their leadership. Other concerns keeping retail talent from their beauty sleep include lack of management support (29 percent) and problems completing a project or objective (23 percent).
  • Freelancers in demand: As digital and creative positions remain challenging for management to fill, demand for freelancers is on the rise. In fact, 69 percent of managers say they plan to rely on freelance talent the same or more than they did last year for these positions. This is good news for freelancers, 87 percent of who say they plan to increase or hold their rates in 2013. Higher pay rates, flexible hours and the freedom that comes from freelance work adds up to 82 percent of freelancers reporting that they have achieved and maintain a good work/life balance, versus only 64 percent of full-time employees.
Survey methodology and analysis
24 Seven Inc. surveyed more than 1,300 fashion and retail professionals around the world. The survey examined the current state and prevailing attitudes of the employment market in the fashion and retail industry and the impact of compensation and benefits on overall job satisfaction.

Of those surveyed, 74 percent were female, 26 percent were male and the median annual salary was $68,000; 42 percent of respondents worked for a company with over $500 million in sales and 72 percent were GenXers.

Furthermore, 35 percent of those surveyed held Senior Executive/Management titles. Job functions of those surveyed included: Design & Technical Development; Production/Sourcing & Product Development; Planning & Merchandising; Sales, Marketing/Creative and Advertising; Store Level and Field Retail; Wholesale; Corporate Retail; Operations/IT; E-commerce; Retail Environment Design and Architecture.
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