Creatives do not stay in a job longer than five years, research shows

A survey by recruitment agency Aquent/Vitamin T has found that 96% of creative and marketing professionals will leave a job within five years, citing the main reason as lack of career progression.

Courtesy of G Stock Studio

The creative industries are volatile with a high turnover of staff according to new research showing that most professionals do not stay in a job longer than five years.

The research was conducted by creative recruitment agency Aquent/Vitamin T in January this year, and saw 229 people working in creative, marketing and digital jobs surveyed, including permanent employees and freelancers. 155 of these were creative professionals. The majority were aged 26-34, and there was a split of 54% women to 46% men.

Half of all creatives work longer than their hours

It found that 96% of those surveyed say they do not stay in a job for longer than five years, and half of those surveyed say they leave a job within two years.

Half of creative and marketing professionals also say they work longer than their contracted hours; 50% of those surveyed work out of hours, with creative professionals working 40 hours a week on average, which is three hours more than the national average. Marketers work more than this, at 43 hours a week on average.

A quarter of creatives also say they have concerns about fitting parenting or caring duties around their job, while three quarters of creative freelancers say this is the main reason they left a permanent role to be self-employed. Other common reasons for leaving full-time jobs include the workload and the new-found ability to be their own boss.

Three-quarters are happy in their jobs

Despite working longer hours than the national average and jumping job often, less than a fifth of creatives – 16% – do not feel supported at work. Nearly three-quarters – 70% – say they feel happy in their current role.

Over a third – 35% – put the main reason for leaving their job down to a lack of career progression, in terms of pay and role. Other less common reasons for leaving include poor management and feeling underappreciated, each of which was mentioned by a tenth of respondents.

Mike Berry, UK country manager at Aquent/Vitamin T, says: “Companies need to find an effective way of not only developing but retaining good people.

“Our research indicates that ensuring staff can move along the career ladder and receive structured training development is key to keeping people on board.

“Employees want to be recognised for their work and effort. If employees feel valued, their job satisfaction is more likely to increase, along with their job tenure.”

Hide Comments (3)Show Comments (3)
  • Ash June 20, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Good article, there are a multitude of reasons creatives move on to different roles and companies do need to find effective ways to retain people as you say but it does come down to the individual, their goals, their own value in the company, happiness in the role whether they are being challenged/motivated and their work appreciated and understood.

  • madelaine cooper June 20, 2018 at 10:33 am

    Agree. It’s often more effective to keep your staff happy, engaged and feeling like they have progression in your company than to lose them and have to recruit and train new people. Invest in your people! Offer them coaching and development – including the managers and leaders who are often neglected in these discussions about progression. See my website: for ideas.

  • Vera Hanson October 24, 2018 at 9:51 am

    If you really don’t like the job, there will be a tendency that you will not yourself spending years in the same job. You must develop your forte and find what you really want than to spend working on things that you really don’t like.

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