Like so many businesses across the country, medical marketing agencies are dealing with ongoing fallout from the Great Resignation. Amid broader economic turbulence and lingering effects from the pandemic, millions of workers have quit or changed their jobs in recent months, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. So what can agencies do to mitigate the situation?

For many, it’s a dual challenge of attracting the right workers to join the organization while retaining the people who might be side-eyeing another gig — and the raise that likely comes with it.

ClarityQuest CEO Christine Slocumb said navigating the current labor market represents a balancing act for executives, who must weigh concerns over compensation, hybrid or remote work expectations and industry expertise. She doesn’t expect a full return to the in-person office experience, especially now that companies have become comfortable with hiring talent from outside their immediate geographic market. 

At the same time, Slocumb disputed the use of the term “Great Resignation,” instead positing that the labor market has been reshuffled based on what employees are seeking from their jobs. She noted that the pandemic prompted many workers to reevaluate their professional lives.

“Most people aren’t in it just for the money. They want the culture of being respected, knowing they can grow and support to learn,” she explained. “A big problem that a lot of agencies have is that they want people coming out of the womb knowing healthcare or pharma. Not everyone is going to know that; there’s a small pool of those people.”

Brian Gibbons, chief people officer at Real Chemistry, described existing labor trends as “tough” and stressed the importance of companies listening to their employees. Real Chemistry employees have been pushing for “community” and learning opportunities, he noted, prompting the company to provide resources like LinkedIn Learning sessions and flexible working options.

Real Chemistry has taken a proactive approach to soliciting feedback from its workers. Gibbons believes this is an outgrowth of the DE&I initiatives which have become mainstream across most industries – and are clearly of increasing importance to would-be employees.  

“If you’re mindful and meet your people with meaningful actions, hopefully they’ll stick around,” he said. “I don’t think these things are going to fall away, because this is part of the workforce evolution. It’s unfortunate that a pandemic had to come in to make it happen, but leaders should do things that are meaningful. Don’t do things that are mandates.”

Reem Nouh, SVP of healthcare marketing at Adams & Knight, emphasized the need for medical marketers to appreciate the three Rs: retention, recruitment and representation.

Nouh said internal employee engagement is vital for boosting retention rates, but added that agencies must break down silos between marketing and HR that stand in the way of effective recruiting campaigns. For representation, Nouh said organizations need to show real, quantifiable action on the DE&I front to prove that they abide by their oft-stated pledges to foster a diverse workforce.

Meanwhile, as employee work preferences change, marketers must pay even closer attention to their own brands.

“There’s a lot that marketers have to do, but they should think about recruitment, retention, employee engagement and culture,” Nouh stressed. “It’s important for them to be at the table with one another and start the conversation.”