Between post-pandemic realities and election cycle uncertainties, public affairs professionals face a range of short and long-term challenges. To plan ahead, it is important to take stock of emerging trends and devise a strategy for organizational success – and your professional advancement.
In July 2022, Bloomberg Government surveyed 231 professionals across organizations specializing in public affairs. This article highlights key findings from the 2022 Trends in Public Affairs report, which shed light on the factors shaping strategies, careers, and industry growth.
Organizations are prioritizing good communicators
Roughly half of the survey’s respondents say the biggest challenges to a successful public affairs strategy in 2023 will be engaging the right audiences and building relationships.
To meet these challenges, organizations intend to prioritize hiring staff who possess the ability to develop and maintain relationships, and have strong written and oral communication skills. These professionals should also be prepared to handle robust workloads – according to respondents, both staffing and budgets are projected to grow in 2023.
Changing jobs is on the rise
During the height of the pandemic, employees across industries left their jobs in droves to seek new opportunities with higher pay, better benefits, and greater flexibility. The public affairs industry was no exception to the Great Resignation. In 2020, one in four respondents reported a job change. In 2022, that number increased to four out of ten respondents. Men, in particular, were three times as likely to leave their jobs within the public affairs sector.
The Great Resignation has evolved into the Great Reshuffle. This past year, organizations have fine-tuned their approach to workplace culture and benefits to attract and retain talent. Nearly all the survey’s respondents report that their organization allows employees to work either fully remotely or on a hybrid basis. This shift has helped workers stay put in their current place of employment. In 2020, if someone changed jobs, they were more likely to move to a new organization. However, in 2022, the public affairs sector saw internal job shifts.
Higher compensation and bonuses don’t always cut it
Due to a tight labor market and high inflation, public affairs salaries increased in 2022 for both men and women. However, the gender wage gap still pervades. Female respondents reported an average salary of $167,311 in 2022, whereas their male counterparts made $191,908. A majority of men and women, though, received an increase in cash bonuses this past year.
The climb in salaries and cash bonuses might not be enough to retain top talent, especially for female employees. Many women respondents did not believe they were being fairly compensated; the level of dissatisfaction rose from 13% in 2020 to 31% in 2022. With that, many public affairs professionals are motivated to take advantage of a hot hiring marketing and seek out new job opportunities.