B&T’s work-life balance report released last week showed some staggering figures around staff experience in agency-land.
A survey released by the Media Federation of Australia in January reported staff turnover at media agencies had fallen to 30 per cent down from 34 per cent in 2012 and 37 per cent in 2011. It is time we addressed this.
There is plenty that we can do as agency bosses to create an environment where people are motivated, learning, delivering best practice work and, most importantly, enjoying themselves.
Since a majority of staff churn in the media industry is reported to come from younger and middle management staff, it makes sense to look at the issue from those levels. I come into contact with a lot of graduates who ask me the best way to get a start in a media agency. These sorts of conversations not only make me reflect on what it takes to work in a media agency, but what an agency can provide to its staff and the importance of giving grads a good start.
The type of agency you work with at the beginning of your career can have a big impact; the exposure you get from working across varied clients and with experienced leaders sets up careers and motivates young employees. Nurturing local growth and fostering graduates into a strong career is of prime importance and shouldn’t be overlooked by agency bosses.
In my experience, senior staff are critical role models throughout a business and offering quality management to both your clients and your people is where agencies distinguish themselves both as a service offering and a desirable workplace.
Global connectivity is also of great importance. Agencies that live local but think globally offer their people the opportunity to stay abreast of industry trends and pass their knowledge on the benefit of the colleagues and clients. Having global affiliates provides an advantage in terms of resources, research, liquid talent and, often, local new business opportunities.
These networks bring in IP from around the world and strong relationships with its global counterparts can define a company locally. Recruiting senior staff from different global markets – within your network or not – increases access to this IP and ensures that it is engrained in the business.
Grads may have finished their university education, but continuing to learn at work is critical for staff at this level. A structured learning and development program considering a balance of technical and soft skills courses at each level throughout a person’s progression in an agency is critical. Encouraging staff to branch out from internal training to attend industry events and programs that may be beneficial is also well worth the investment.
Staffing accounts with the right people at all levels and building cohesive teams gives clients the best experience. If you can develop a culture of working hard and having fun that comes from the top, coupled with plenty of mentoring and learning on the job, junior staff develop faster and are more loyal, playing their part in a happier and more efficient environment.
There is a lot we can be doing to build our agencies for the future. People are the number one priority – get that right and the rest will follow.
Simon Ryan is the Managing Director at Carat Melbourne