The New Events Staffing Landscape is ‘Unsustainable’

Event planners and suppliers say staff reductions have created additional responsibilities for those still on the job — and many are at the breaking point.

Author: Barbara Palmer       

audience at conference

Many event planners and suppliers are doing double or triple duty in their positions due to staff shortages. (Stem List on Unsplash)

In Convene’s April Dashboard Survey, four out of 10 planners and more than half of suppliers said their roles have changed as a result of furloughs or staff reductions during the pandemic — namely, they have taken on additional responsibilities and roles. “It’s unsustainable,” said one planner.

A sampling of the write-in comments by planner and supplier survey participants reveals how the industry is grappling with fewer staff and heavier workloads. The survey was conducted in mid-April, when nearly 400 planners and 181 suppliers participated.

Planners

“I took on a lot of other responsibilities outside of events.”

“I’ve taken on the workload of two full-time staff in addition to my own while trying to keep everyone else who is overworked on task.”

“We have experienced staff reductions and turnover of our entire staff (except for me and one other person). Our education department has turned over three times in 2.5 years, and I now find myself doing the work of three FT staff. It’s unsustainable.”

“Doing more with less. Stakeholders don’t see behind the scenes of a virtual track and think it is so easy. What used to be one event is now four or five, and yet we aren’t able to increase our staff by four or five times. People click a link to log on to a Zoom call and they equate that with what we do for a virtual or hybrid experience. A Zoom call is not an experience and we are constantly having the discussion for more money for platforms or staffing. This part of events is very vague to stakeholders and I am exhausted by the constant conversations and ‘AV-splaining.’”

“I started my own agency after being in an organization that downsized my department by 50 percent and then when we returned to pre-pandemic levels in a compressed window. We still only had the reduced team but greater workloads due to managing the health and safety of attendees along with the omicron spike.”

“Technically, my role is still the same, but mass resignations by event ops/planning team members resulted in need for coverage. Unfortunately, there is little understanding by remaining executive leadership about how extensive and specialized their roles were and no support for contract professional assistance in the interim.”

“We haven’t had reductions or furloughs, just a lot of added work.”

“More marketing and now in charge of our website. Not just registration sites, the company’s website. That was a learning curve.”

“I used to lead a department of six. Now it’s me and three consultants.”

Suppliers

“While the position is still the same, the workload due to layoffs and rightsizing is significant. Difficult to keep up with what we did previously.”

“Additional workload without any additional compensation.”

“Taken on larger territory, harder to get responses from partners that are short-staffed, clients are a bit anxious.”

“Much more work with less time and less resources for less pay.”

“More responsibilities. Getting involved in the day-to-day operations in addition to long-term planning.”

“Trying to hire to bring back a strong and vibrant team but staffing is tough.”


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