Recruit & Retain: The Battle for Event Management Talent

Recruit & Retain: The Battle for Event Management Talent

Corporate in-house event organisers pinpoint a shortfall in talent and challenges in recruiting, according to C&IT’s annual State of the Industry report. Mike Fletcher looks at the findings.

The competition for talent is now one of the biggest challenges to impact corporate event planners, according to C&IT’s State of the Industry: Corporate Report 2022.

The extended period of Covid uncertainty during the past two years, evidently left many in-house event staff disillusioned and keen to move into roles they believed would be more reliable.

This, coupled with employees reassessing their work life balance and being offered more flexible workplace conditions elsewhere, has resulted in employees leaving what is often considered one of the most stressful jobs, in search of something else.

With an appetite for in-person events returning, organisations have now found themselves starved of the talent required to run in-house strategic meetings management programmes, book venues and organise the logistics of both internal and external events, meetings and exhibitions.

Competition within the industry

“There are certainly fewer candidates for open roles because people have left the industry,” one in-house planner told C&IT for its annual gauge of industry trends. “As a result, the competition to land experienced and motivated talent is pushing up expected salaries.”

When asked about sourcing and recruiting candidates in the coming months, a third of corporate in-house planners (33%) said it would be difficult or very difficult – with 13% opting for the latter.

Brexit and existing staff being given different roles during the pandemic period when events weren’t happening, are also playing their part in compounding the issue.

“There has been lots of reshuffling of jobs and positions and a lack of overseas hospitality staff due to Brexit,” one planner said.

“After the pandemic, lots of event professionals were forced to move roles and did not necessarily get one that’s the best fit, so people are still reshuffling looking for longer-term opportunities.”

Almost half of those planners surveyed (47%) by C&IT said it would also be difficult to retain talent in the next 12 months, as companies compete to rebuild their events divisions with the most knowledgable and experienced staff.

“There are more jobs out there to apply for, so it’s even more tempting to leave,” said one respondent.

“Employees are always seeking self-improvement and better work options,” agreed another.

A future of opportunity

C&IT’s corporate readership also inferred that any additional benefits being offered in current roles may be less alluring than a fresh challenge with higher wages.

“I expect there will be many more events and subsequent roles being created out there. A new interesting role will be more attractive to people than incentives and perks,” one respondent said.

Even employees who may not actively be looking for a new role, are being lured away by headhunters and recruitment strategies.

“It’s certainly an employees’ market out there and people are being proactively approached by recruiters and companies on places like LinkedIn,”

If staff shortages continue within corporate event teams, the likelihood is that organisations will rely more heavily on agencies for additional support by outsourcing certain parts of their MICE programmes.

C&IT however warns that agencies are also facing the same staffing challenges and the freelance pool of talent has been slow to replenish.

It’s therefore vital that all organisations review workplace culture in order to ensure an environment that’s rewarding, flexible and inclusive. Those that take the necessary steps to create a more inviting and empathetic place to work, will reap the rewards, both in terms of recruitment and talent retention for the long-term.

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Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for over 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.

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