Clemenger CEO Andy Pontin recently suggested agencies needed to up the dollars to get new staff through the door, however, in this opinion piece, Anna O’Dea, director at Agency Iceberg believes it’s more a case about how we treat those making their way up through the ranks.
In B&T’s recent article on agency-bred talent, suggested agencies needed more cash to attract top tier candidates.
It got me thinking.
Money certainly plays a role in securing top-level talent. However, the issue in my experience is less about money, and more about how we treat our talent on the way up to senior roles.
Pontin is right in that salary is just beginning of a conversation with a job seeker, particularly passive talent who are already gainfully employed elsewhere. However, agencies have a bigger issue to tackle, and that’s how they look at career progression, from mentoring junior team members to parents returning to the workforce.
Consider what a career trajectory looks like for a junior these days. They are under immensurable pressure to ‘prove their worth’ which that only intensifies as they progress their career. Juniors are expected to hit the ground running as they cut their teeth, on below average salaries, long hours and little mentorship along the way.
After a few years, they may get promoted, seeing little salary increase and an increasing workload. By the time they’re in their mid twenties or early thirties, they’re exhausted and quite frankly, over it.
Women who choose to have children, are equally forced to make a choice on the way up. Many agencies simply do not want workers who can’t be available 24/7 for their clients. Clients are people, with families and commitments too; yet this appears to be a foreign concept in agency land.
The reality for new mothers returning to the workforce is to either stall their career for a ‘flexibility trade off’, work part time at a less senior position, or leave the agency behind entirely to begin their own consultancy.
It is to the detriment of the industry that very few agencies are open to recruiting part time senior management positions around the requirements of new parents. This leads to a lack of diversity in senior positions and quality of senior talent with rich life experiences.
The majority of my clients are open to opening bigger budgets for star talent in senior roles, however, the discussion curbs around remunerating and rewarding junior to mid level roles or returning to work mothers.
All these factors combined lead to a shortage of quality talent, forcing agencies to look internationally to source quality senior staff.
Agencies need to alter their thinking dramatically and get as creative with their recruitment strategies as they do their clients
They need to ask themselves whether they’re contributing to a culture that develops and nurtures talent to progress into senior roles, or burns them and churns them out along the way.
Agencies need to nurture young and upcoming talent to grow them into future strategists and leaders. They need to lead by example by understanding workers are humans, with families and personal lives. They need to treat them with respect on the way up.