Media Insights: data from our benchmarking report

Nov 27, 2021 | Blog

For the world of media, 2020 brought a spate of cancelled projects, a shift to remote production and events, and a lot of news to keep the world up-to-date with. How have people working in the industry coped with all these changes?

Using our 2020 benchmarking data, we’ve uncovered the strengths and weaknesses in the sector – so leaders know where they need to focus.

The top 3 strengths of the Media sector in 2020

1. Role Fit

82% agree or strongly agree with this statement: “My skills and talents fit well with my role and I feel able to get the job done.”

As we’ve mentioned, ‘role fit’ was a strength for most UK sectors in 2020 – so it’s not surprising to find that’s the case for the media sector too. From videographers to music editors, many roles require specific skills that are needed to do the role at all – let alone successfully.

Ensuring role fit – both through technical training and positive feedback – has also been identified as a driver of engagement in other research. So while the sector has a high turnover rate of 30% per year, ‘role fit’ isn’t the culprit.

 2. Collaboration

79% agree or strongly agree with this statement: “Our organisation is an effective team that works well together and we help each other when needed.”

‘Collaboration’ was an encouraging strength to see. As with many sectors, the pandemic has forced remote working on many of us. For officer workers, that’s less of a problem. But for those involved in complex production workflows, demanding significant computing power and network speeds, it posed some problems.

But as the ‘collaboration’ score suggests, the sector rushed through ways of working when it came to remote production and invested in tools to make it possible. As collaboration is part and parcel of media production, this seems to have been rightly prioritised.

3. Empowerment

75% agree or strongly agree with this statement: “When faced with a difficult situation at work, I feel trusted to exercise my judgement and make appropriate decisions”

Perhaps also a result of remote working, media employees feel empowered and free to act when needed. This may be born from necessity: while journalists surveyed haven’t seen much support from managers, this could be seen as an expectation to act more autonomously. And with difficulties meeting deadlines in journalism in particular, as sources are harder to pin down, cutting out sign-off time may have been necessary.

The 3 biggest opportunities for improvement

1. Experience

Only 46% agree or strongly agree with this statement: “My knowledge, skills and expertise are respected, recognised and fairly rewarded.”

This score is about having a positive career experience. Sadly, for many in the media, this is not the case. As seen in The Looking Glass report, the situation is dire: 62% in film, TV and cinema say work has negatively impacted their mental health. And there are several factors at play: over 1 in 8 work 60+ hours a week, 56% have experienced bullying, and 55% haven’t received adequate mental support when working with distressing content.

Simply put, there is a wellbeing crisis for media employees. With the added complications of the pandemic, leaders need to act fast to improve the employee experience.

2. Listening

Only 46% agree or strongly agree with this statement: “There are opportunities to give genuine feedback and I feel like my voice is heard.”

One key way to impact wellbeing is by simply listening. Unfortunately, that’s a weakness for the industry too. 54% say discussing their mental ill health at work made no difference and, alarming, 5% say it made it worse – so it’s no surprise that 42% avoid seeking support for fear of being judged and 43% worrying it would affect their job prospects.

If leaders want to tackle this, they need to open the floor for feedback – listening carefully to the challenges their people experience, and using that to make positive changes.

3. Leadership

Only 50% agree or strongly agree with this statement: “My manager is aware of the needs and challenges I face in my job and reacts appropriately.”

If leaders want to tackle this wellbeing crisis, they need to welcome employee feedback – listening carefully to the challenges their people experience, and using that to make positive changes. Right now, the ‘leadership’ score is low. That needs to change for the sake of media employees, and for the future of the sector.

Mental health-related leave costs £6.8 billion per year. It costs employers £3.1 billion a year to replace staff who leave for mental health reasons. Even when it comes to freelancers and the self-employed, mental ill health costs the industry £860 million.

Our takeaway for Media:

The business case is there: it makes financial, moral, and social sense to start caring for media workers. Steps must be taken to address the wellbeing problems they face and, as we would always recommend, that starts by listening to what those issues are. 

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