Covid-19 crisis hits marketers’ job confidence

Irish marketers now feel less confident in their jobs than they did nine months ago with a doubling in the number of executives feeling “insecure” since the Covid-19 outbreak, a survey by marketing recruitment specialists Alternatives indicates. Last year, 71 per cent of marketers felt “secure” or “very secure” in their roles, compared to 53 per cent now.

People working in the Government, financial services, education, agri, FMCG and utilities sectors feel most secure, while those least secure work in the hotel/tourism, NFP and media/publishing sectors. Marketers in small companies tend to feel more insecure, with 28 per cent compared to 15 per cent of those working in larger companies.

Those at an early stage of their career feel the least secure.

The crisis has a negative/very negative impact on business performance for 81 per cent of respondents, with 12 per cent seeing some positive impact. Three quarters of respondents expect their companies to be badly impacted. Tourism, drinks, professional and business services, logistics, construction and agencies are the most downbeat.


As of last week, 70 per cent of respondents have had no change to their job status, while 15 per cent have been made redundant or laid off short term or on a permanent basis and 13 per cent are working reduced hours. Those at early career stage were hit more than those at more senior levels and were more likely to have been laid off temporarily.

Hotel and tourism sectors have been the hardest hit to date, with 29 per cent on temporary layoff and one in four on reduced hours. The report shows that 29 per cent of professional and business services and a quarter of agencies are on less hours. People working in small companies with 50 or less staff have been much more impacted by the crisis.

One in four executives have had their working hours reduced and seven per cent have been made redundant. Conversely, 87 per cent of marketers working in larger companies have seen no change to their job status. As far as salaries are concerned, 60 per cent have seen no change up to now, with one in three experiencing a salary reduction.

Some executives who have not had salary impacted have had bonuses cut or postponed and several anticipate changes to come. Respondents from financial services, utilities and government have not recorded any salary reductions. Those in telco, tech and FMCG are also much less impacted than average – particularly small companies.


Between a third and one in two small companies have reduced salaries and more than half with cuts of over 20 per cent. By contrast, only 17 per cent of those working in large companies have had salary cuts yet, while 46 per cent of directors have had salary reductions versus an average of 31 per cent and half of those have taken a 20 per cent cut.

Healthcare, e-commerce, and tech are among the sectors most positive about future prospects. The current crisis has completely overtaken Brexit as the key threat for 81 per cent of respondents, with Brexit a bigger issue for only three per cent now. With 78 per cent seeing a role change since the crisis struck, there is a new set of priorities.

The business response includes immediate crisis management, shorter term planning and activities and longer term strategy. There is a new focus on cash, revenue and customers, moving  business model online, more comms/internal comms/digital online and with people working from home, more complex, remote team management.

Businesses are also adapting more now to how they manage and support their employees. In addition to email, companies have certainly moved online, with virtual meetings (87 per cent) and company online updates (63 per cent), remote team building exercises and events (36 per cent), as well as one-to-one supports and employee training.


Almost two thirds of companies have put recruitment on hold and over half see less contracting and consulting opportunities. Companies may be open to contracting and consulting solutions before taking on new full-time hires. In terms of personal impact, new living arrangements have seen 46 per cent are living with school children or pre-schoolers.

Four in 10 are living in households with no children and 14 per cent are living on their own. When asked how they are coping with today’s new realities, respondents gave on average a score of seven out of 10, showing the resilience, adaptability and positivity of the community, even under unprecedented circumstances.

Working from home (WFH) works for most people, with just seven per cent saying otherwise, with 36 per cent of women and 29 per cent of men find managing children and work at home difficult. Those who are most junior in their career find it the most difficult to self-motivate and are most likely to feel that their job does not lend itself to WFH.

WFH difficulties 

I miss my colleagues 35%
Difficult managing children and work 32%
Don’t have an adequate ‘office area’ at home 28%
Difficult to self-motivate 20%
Difficult managing workload 18%
Difficult managing stress 14%
Don’t have the right technology/IT tools 10%
Don’t have good enough broadband 9%
My job doesn’t lend itself to WFH 8%
It’s not difficult 21%

Main worries

Job security 42%
My elderly or vulnerable relatives 42%
Finances 36%
My own health 21%
My children falling behind in school 20%
Having to move back to working in an office 18%
Falling behind in work because I’m juggling kids at home 16%
Tension in the home 10%
Not worried at all 8%

Many respondents voiced concerns for the overall long-term impact on the economy and society. They are worried about how long the crisis will last, and when it is “over”, what the “new normal” will look like. While much focus has been about WFH, almost one in five are worried about having to go back and work from the office, an interesting development.                                                                                   

Keeping motivated and well

  • At support (junior) level: Less food and drink treats, more online games and online learning.
  • At practitioner level (4-9 years into career): More helping of elderly family, helping of elderly neighbours and more community care, as well as food and drink treats.
  • At manager level: More contact with family and friends online, more food and drink treats and more online learning.
  • At director/head of level: More exercise, more online contact with family and friends, more helping elderly relatives and neighbours.

In all of this, there are positives…

I enjoy not having to commute 61%
I’m happy the environment is benefiting 52%
My lifestyle is less frenetic 51%
I’m exercising more 51%
I have more quality family time 49%
I enjoy spending more time at home 47%
I realise what is important to me now 41%
I feel more connected to nature 31%

Commenting on the findings, Alternatives’ founder Sandra Lawler (pictured) said that Irish marketers’ skills in strategic planning, in customer insight, communications and digital have never been more critical in helping companies respond, adapt and drive growth.

The Alternatives’ Marketing at Work Pulse Survey was carried out between April 27 and May 5. It was completed by 442 marketing professionals, working in large and small companies,  from junior to director level, across 20 or more sectors of the economy.



Privacy Policy | Cookies Policy