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June 26, 2024

Emotional salaries: How do media jobs stack up?

By Amanda Kavanagh

“And you never say thank you.”

“That’s what the money is for!”

Mad Men’s The Suitcase may have first-aired fourteen years ago, but the episode spawned some of the show’s most-quoted and memed lines.

In a disagreement about credit for an award-winning ad, Peggy Olsen communicates her frustration at the lack of acknowledgement, and Don Draper snaps back with his now-famous retort.

Three media roles hiring now:

While it’s true what Don says – there is no credit on commercials – his management approach wouldn’t wash in a modern company that values employee engagement, and considers emotional salary.

In the fast-paced world of media and advertising, employee engagement and retention have always been important, but as platforms and working models evolve, so too must the industry’s approach to compensation and workplace satisfaction.

What is an emotional salary?

According to Achievers Workforce Institute’s (AWI) 2024 Engagement and Retention report, compensation is the number one reason to job hunt (motivating 28% of those surveyed), and 41% of survey respondents plan on job hunting this year.

But of course, only one company can offer the highest salary.

That’s why the report is so focused on emotional salary, and cites this as a key element of employee engagement and retention.

Emotional salary is the non-monetary compensation that affects an employee’s attitude towards their work, including work-life balance, culture, and career.

This type of compensation includes feelings of fulfilment, acceptance, and validation—all significant benefits that money cannot buy.

And while adequate financial compensation ought to be a given, the survey reveals that 72% of workers would rather work in an environment where they are supported and valued than in one where they are not-so-appreciated but receive 30% more in pay.

Five factors for workplace happiness

Recognition does help build workplace satisfaction, and is especially needed in years when salary increases are minimal or not on the cards at all. Though recognition only placed fourth in a list of reasons to leave your current workplace according to the survey.

After salary at the top of the list, career progression came second in the list of reasons to leave an employer in 2024 (24% of survey respondents), while work flexibility came in third at 23%. However, for those who said they are able to live comfortably and save, flexibility was the number one motivator.

After recognition, it is culture and values fit that matter to employees. It’s not enough to outline a company approach to culture on a website or in onboarding sessions, and consider that box ticked. An organisation must actively live and breathe its values – though according to the AWI survey, 82% of respondents don’t believe their organisation is currently doing this.

Relationships are also cited as important, and these can be improved at all levels, regardless if you’ve manager status or not.

Three more media roles

Knowing how a colleague likes their tea, remembering an important detail about their weekend, or just generally being interested in them as a person can go so far – for both parties. Workers who have a close bond with their colleagues are happier in their workplace, and will be 22% less likely to look for work this year.

On the flipside, some 13% of respondents said a sense of belonging was a reason to stay in 2024, while 12% said culture and values fit was an incentive.

For organisations of all sizes, embracing the concept of emotional salary offers a pathway to creating more engaging, satisfying, and happier work environments.

By prioritising culture, career development, work-life balance, and meaningful recognition, media companies can build and retain effective teams that are happier in the workplace. If this doesn’t sound like where you work, it could be time to find somewhere new.

Ready to start your search? Find new roles in UK media updated daily on the Press Gazette Jobs today

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