446: #446: Planning marketing headcount budgets for 2024 with Sue Keith, Ceres Talent

In this special episode, brought to you by Ceres Talent, a marketing staffing agency run by modern-day marketing matchmakers, we’re going to talk about planning for 2024, and what the experts are seeing as marketing leaders are identifying hiring needs and developing headcount budgets for 2024.

To help me discuss these topics, I’d like to welcome Sue Keith, Corporate Vice President at Ceres Talent.


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The episode delves into the significance of returning to the office, highlighting that it encompasses more than just resuming work tasks. It emphasizes the importance of in-person interactions and spontaneous conversations, such as hallway chats and impromptu whiteboarding sessions, in fostering innovation within the organization. These types of interactions are seen as lacking on platforms like Zoom, which lack the spontaneity and connection-building that comes with face-to-face communication.

Furthermore, the guest, Sue Keith from Ceres Talent, underscores that being physically present allows for the development of what they refer to as the “connective tissue” of the organization. This involves getting to know individuals in different departments and areas of the company, such as operations, finance, or HR. Building these connections and understanding everyone’s collective role contributes to a stronger sense of connection to the overall mission of the company.

There is also a shift in management’s perspective on remote work. Initially, many companies recognized the productivity of their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic and embraced remote hiring. However, there has been a growing skepticism among management regarding the productivity of remote employees. This change in perspective may explain the desire for employees to spend at least a few days a week in the office.

The return to the office is not solely about work tasks, but also about the value of in-person interactions, spontaneous conversations, and building connections within the organization. It acknowledges that finding a balance between remote work and in-person work, such as through hybrid models, may be the optimal approach to maintain these important aspects of work culture.

According to the episode, employees who do not come into the office as frequently may feel marginalized and miss out on face time with their bosses and spontaneous hallway conversations. The absence of physical presence can limit their opportunities for informal interactions and connections with colleagues and superiors, potentially making them feel excluded from important discussions and decision-making processes. Additionally, they may lack visibility and opportunities for networking and building relationships with individuals in different departments or areas of the company. This can impact their professional growth and advancement within the organization. The episode acknowledges that addressing these concerns is a complex issue with no clear or easy answers.

There is a shift towards a hybrid work model in many companies. While remote work was widely accepted and seen as productive during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is now growing skepticism among management regarding the productivity of remote employees. Consequently, many companies are now advocating for employees to spend two to three days a week in the office.

This shift is not merely about returning to work, but specifically about returning to the office. The term “return to work” may inadvertently contribute to the notion that employees are not truly working unless they are physically present in the office.

Both Greg and Sue agreed that a hybrid work model is the way forward. They believe that spending a few days a week in the office allows for making connections, building relationships, and fostering innovative ideas. However, they acknowledge the challenges associated with implementing a hybrid model, including potential feelings of marginalization for those who are not in the office as frequently as their peers.

From the perspective of candidates, reactions to the return to the office are mixed. Some candidates are excited about the opportunity to interact with people in real life and are open to a hybrid work schedule. However, there are still candidates who prefer to remain 100% remote and are even willing to accept a pay cut to do so.

Overall, the podcast suggests that the shift towards a hybrid work model is underway, but uncertainties and challenges remain. The exact balance between in-person and remote work is yet to be determined and may vary from company to company.

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