The Agency culture and leadership workstream is identifying areas in the supply-side and other sectors where there is good employment practice and staff support to identify areas where sector wide improvements can be made.  

The key remit for Agency Leadership and Culture is to dive deeper into some of the findings from the initial research reported in 2022, with a core focus of proposing a realistic and actionable framework that sets out what ‘good’ looks like in the context of healthy leadership and culture within research agencies. The main focus to date has been on research agencies, but many of the recommendations apply equally to client-side research teams.  

We’ve taken a broad perspective on the topic, from quite specific subjects, such as our work on the current cost of living crisis, while other areas are broader, such as our work on the factors that drive positive employee retention. From the start, we’ve recognised that while there are challenges in common across agencies, the way in which different companies address these challenges differs, according to individual circumstances. For that reason, the recommendations we have made to date are intended as ‘food for thought’ rather than a list of prescriptive actions.

Under the umbrella of our core objective there are five sub-streams each focused on a particular aspect of healthy agency leadership and culture.

  • Exploring and producing a guide and resources for the ‘Best Place to Work’ benchmarks. Based on research both within and outside the sector, the main output from this is a ‘ready to use’ employee survey which covers all the key measures of employee satisfaction.
  • In a world of hybrid working, establish best practices for remote and flexible working that work for both employees and employers
  • Practical approaches to addressing the current cost of living crisis – a menu of ideas of what actions can be taken to ease the burden on employees
  • Driving positive retention in the sector – based on research with a range of different leaders in the sector, an understanding of what creates a culture of positive retention and how to maintain it over the longer term
  • Giving employees a clear voice – identifying the best ways to achieve this, including practical guidance on how to set-up and run an effective Employee Board

Positive Retention Report

Following the publication in 2022 of the MRS research into Talent and Wellbeing in the research and insight sector, entitled 
“Wellbeing in Research”, a working group was set up to explore challenges in our sector that could affect employee recruitment and retention.

Within this working group, a workstream was established to focus on ‘positive retention’. The remit here was to draw fresh learnings across the sector today on what factors are believed to help research agencies retain their staff. 

Download the Positive Retention Report 

While pay is an important factor in recruitment and retention – and all the more so in today’s inflationary context – this workstream sought to look more widely than financials. The group purposely focused on the idea of ‘positive retention’ because this looks beyond passively retaining staff regardless of satisfaction. To seek to ‘positively retain’ employees puts more emphasis on employers making an effort to ensure staff are genuinely satisfied, learning and developing, and feel valued as well as having a sense of belonging in their roles. Ultimately, that they can see a future they wish to be part of in their organisations.

The Positive Retention Report offers some inspiration, stimulus and practical prompts to help managers and employers consider what ‘positive retention’ best practice looks like in 2023 in an insight agency.

Cost of living and inflationary pressures

The cost-of-living and inflationary crisis is affecting many individuals and businesses across the world including the research sector. Businesses are grappling with the challenges of supporting staff whilst protecting their financial stability. Staff are having to cope with the stress of higher costs and increased financial pressures.

This guidance is to review different ways which businesses can support staff, and to consider some of the benefits and pitfalls of the options available, to help businesses identify what might work best for them.

Download the guidance on how to support your staff and business during the cost of living and inflationary pressures.

Not all of the available options are financial; communication, policies, working culture and accessibility can all help. Some of the suggestions may cost business significant sums, whilst others less so. Businesses should consider what suits and mix and match to find the best approach for their business and staff. But remember, even the smallest changes can often make the most difference if staff are really struggling. The important thing is to manage staff expectations and to ensure that whatever is offered can be delivered.

Cost of living and the global consumer

Our ‘Testing the resilience of the global consumer’ Professional Webinar highlights the fascinating global study of consumer attitudes to the rise in the cost of living detailing reactions from across the globe, how behaviour has changed and how the crisis has impacted the emotional and health of individuals. Lucia Juliano, Head of Research UK and NL, Harris Interactive, Toluna Group outlines the importance of continuing to demonstrate strong social, ethical and brand values.

Becoming employee owned - an interview with DJS Research

In 2021, on its twentieth birthday, market research agency DJS Research became an employee-owned business, guaranteeing the independence of the company and placing its 70 permanent staff at the heart of decision making. 

In this interview Danny Sims, chairman and co-founder, discusses the benefits of the new model for employees and clients alike and offers advice for leaders considering employee ownership as their companies’ next chapter.

Becoming employee owned

You can find out more about employee ownership here.

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