January 31, 2024
By Paul Cook

Event professionals want to work for organisations that look after their people and enable them to create, develop, and grow. The most successful organisations are those who understand how to meet, manage, and exceed the expectations of their employees. But the latest data suggests that those needs are changing. 

The Annual Events Industry Salary Surveyproduced by You Search & Select, highlights the key issues that are top of mind with employees in the events industry. Based on data from more than 1,300 respondents, the report reveals the changing workforce dynamics in the events industry

Read on to discover some of the key highlights: expectations around salaries, the need for hybrid and remote working, and the challenge of the gender pay gap. 

💡Hear from Robert Kenward, Fitability® Recruiter at You Search & Select, on what the latest findings say about the events industry:

1. Salary satisfaction

Employers may be pleased to learn that 45% of respondents said they were happy with their salary. For Robert Kenward, Fitability ® Recruiter at You Search & Select, this is quite a high proportion: "This figure is quite high when compared to other sectors and other surveys I have seen, which cite the figure as much lower at around 25%." 

However, the report also reveals that 55% of respondents are unhappy with their salary. It's likely that the cost-of-living crisis is a key reason for this dissatisfaction. 

Satisfaction Salary

The biggest surprise for employers is likely to be the level of salary increase requested. Nearly half of respondents thought their salary should increase by 11% to 30%. 

One way to manage salary expectations on both sides is to conduct annual salary reviews. Surprisingly, while nearly half (47%) of respondents would like this, only 28% said their company holds an annual salary review. This disparity shows how easy it is for the perspectives of employers and employees to diverge. Salary discussions are typically something both parties find awkward, but salary reviews are a good forum to address these concerns openly and transparently. 

But salaries are just one part of the compensation package. The key challenge is the need to provide other essential benefits for employees that go beyond monetary compensation. 

💡Read more: For more on what event profs are saying about the industry, check out the latest insights from the Fourth Annual Benchmarking Report for Corporate Events

2. Increasing demand for a four-day week

According to the research, event professionals increasingly want a four-day week whilst being paid a full-time salary. 

Benefits would you like added

Over half (55%) of the respondents expressed a desire to see this implemented in their organisations. This compares to just 2% of respondents who said their company already supported a four-day week. 

Which benefits does your company provide

Clearly, there is a disparity between what event professionals want and what organisations are offering. However, the reality is that not all organisations will be able to provide employees with everything they need without risking the company's overall profitability. The four-day week request is a perfect example. 

Working a four-day week is different from working part-time hours. It's also different from working compressed hours, which is doing five days of work in four. 

Laura Capell-Abra, Founder of Stress Matters, said, “The appeal for a four-day work week does not surprise me…It is, of course, appealing to create a better sense of balance, but not an initiative that I see gaining huge traction in this industry in the coming year.

“Before it can be implemented, 20% efficiencies need to be found in the team and in teams where resourcing is often such a challenge. I see this as a working style that’s going to take a while to take off in the events industry.”

To her point, some of those efficiency savings could be delivered as companies become more familiar and adept at working with AI. Technology which saves time on mundane and monotonous tasks would help. 

Additionally, organisations that aim to attract and retain top talent will need to address questions such as which days would be worked, how to manage on-site visits, event attendance, and event execution.  

Could a four-day week work in practice for the events industry? It may necessitate a seismic shift in thinking from many employers, but the sector is well known for its creative and entrepreneurial thinking. Only time will tell whether professionals, both within the industry and elsewhere, will put enough pressure on their organisations to accommodate this. 

3. Pensions, health, and dental insurance

When it comes to other benefits, 42% of the respondents want their employers to make good pension contributions, whilst 35% cite health insurance and 35% want dental insurance. 

It's not surprising these are on the list of benefits requested, considering the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and growing privatisation in the health sector. 

Juliet Price, Development Consultant at beam said, “Interestingly, health benefits such as dental insurance, gym membership, and overall health insurance are desired by over double the percentage of those wanting a company mobile phone or workplace flexibility. I would expect that health insurance will be flying up the benefits wanted list next year."

4. The need for remote and hybrid working

A significant 85% of respondents said they would not consider an employer that didn't offer hybrid or remote working. 

Hybrid working

The overwhelming desire for hybrid working is unsurprising. How we work has changed, and hybrid working is now the norm in the events industry (with 66% of companies providing it). Nearly a third (30%) of respondents said that hybrid working would provide a better work/life balance. "That's a scary amount of people who haven't got this option," says Kenward. 

He continues, "I understand that some companies can't offer hybrid, but even one day a week from home would benefit most people."

The challenge is ensuring employers and event professionals benefit from hybrid and remote working. Employees benefit by having more control over their work/life balance, but employers must ensure client expectations are met and exceeded. After all, the events industry is built on human relationships and encouraging people to meet face-to-face. Let’s not forget the benefits of collaborating and exchanging insights with colleagues in person. 

We can't do that as a sector if we’re all working remotely. There’s a balance to be struck. 

5. The gender pay gap challenge

The survey revealed that there is still a gender pay gap in the events industry, which needs to be addressed. If not, recruiting and retaining staff will become even more of a challenge. 

Although the industry is 75% female, the survey found that 38% of men are directors or board directors, whilst only 23% of women hold those roles. In terms of pay, 50% of men earn over £60,000 compared to only 28% of women.

Gender Pay Gap Challenge

But why is this still the case? Is it that some organisations don't have recruitment and retention policies to identify such imbalances? 

Or is it because the organisation may not be legally required to report its gender pay gap data? For example, in the UK, only companies with 250 employees or more are required to report their gender pay gap data. As there are numerous small businesses in events below this size threshold, many are not obliged to report on this. 

What’s clear is that the issue is complex, and there is a myriad of reasons why the gender pay gap still exists. Whatever the cause, what's important is having the knowledge that enables both employees and employers to do something about it. 

Kerrin MacPhie, Chief Executive at the Meetings Industry Association, sums the position neatly:  “There is an opportunity here for further change; the dial has moved greatly compared to the past, but there is still more to do. We need to consider that not all women are striving to get to the top, which is great, but the ones that do, should be given every opportunity.”

Employers can take an active role in addressing the pay gap by engaging in an open conversation with their employees. This includes asking critical questions about the skills and experience needed for a role, being clear on how to progress to a new role, and being curious about opportunities available.  

Organisations can reduce the gap by: 

  • Re-evaluating recruitment processes
  • Reviewing bonus and benefits packages 
  • Being transparent with salaries on job adverts
  • Analysing data from staff satisfaction surveys 
  • Undertaking training on unconscious bias 
  • Encouraging salary negotiations at the annual review 

Clear two-way communication between employer and employee will produce better results. Everyone deserves to be paid for what they bring and not what their gender happens to be. 

6. Attracting and retaining top talent

The events industry has challenges with attracting new talent, exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic and many leaving the industry altogether. 

Measures employers can take to attract and retain top talent: 

  • Recognise that salary is only part of the package
  • Implement employee satisfaction surveys 
  • Offer hybrid and remote working options  
  • Implement annual salary reviews 
  • Provide clear career pathways for progression 
  • Open communication with employees 

Some companies have taken the approach of reviewing their whole package of benefits. Dale Parmenter, CEO at DRPG, comments:  "We knew a refresh of our benefits system was needed, and it was clear that this could not be a decision made top-down. We have now implemented a brand-new benefits scheme in which every team member has their say. It's not only given a more reflective and flexible list of benefits for our team but also installed the Next-Gen board with a sense of collective leadership and empowerment."

The future of work in the events industry

How we work and view work has changed, while technologies like AI are reshaping how work is done. 

In a fast-paced industry like ours, it's the highly skilled and committed workers that drive exceptional value for clients. It's only fair that compensation packages can meet the needs of top talent.

This report reveals that event employers and professionals need to communicate clearly so that they align and everybody benefits. 

For more insights on salary and employee benefit expectations, download the Annual Events Industry Salary Survey.

Paul Cook

Paul Cook has been immersed in business events for over 20 years, as a writer, producer, speaker, advisor, and educator. He is the author of three event focused books; Supercharge Your Virtual Speaking, Remotely Engaging and Risk It! Paul is a Past President of the UK Chapter of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and he is currently serving as a Jury President for the Eventex Awards.

The Annual Events Industry Salary Survey
The Events Industry Salary Survey
Get the scoop on salaries and workforce dynamics in the events industry

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