The boss of Clemenger recently declared it wasn’t a talent shortage that was holding agencies back, it was the fact they didn’t have enough money to pay for the talent. However Matthew Gain, general manager of communications agency Edelman PR in Sydney believes it’s more about environment.
“We’re not necessarily the highest payer in the industry, but we try to work hard on getting an environment people want to work in,” he told B&T.
“I genuinely think that young, brilliant people, don’t put money as the first thing,” he mused.
“I think that you need to pay people a lot of money when the environment’s not quite right. I think young people today, if they believe in what they’re doing, if they believe that they’re making a contribution that’s making a difference and they feel value, and they get paid enough they can live in Sydney etc, then you attract great talent.
“Rarely do I think people make decisions when it comes down to it, first and foremost, to money. As long as the money’s enough they will be more focused on culture and doing something they believe in in an environment where they can make a difference.”
We at B&T are pretty curious about salaries in the industry, which is why we’ve produced an anonymous survey for people to vent their feelings about industry moolah.
The statement from Clemenger boss Andy Pontin came during a skills shortage workshop in Sydney in collaboration with ADMA and B&T. There, Pontin pinpointed the fact agencies pay less for their staff due to clients paying less for their services.
“I think where we and every other agency is really struggling is that we used to be able to attract really great thinkers because generally we pay more, we used to offer a better working environment and often more variety in the role,” he said at the time. “All three of those things have changed now.”
His comments were met with incredulousness from the boss of Agency Iceberg, Anna O’Dea, who said it was about how agencies treat people.
“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,” she wrote in an opinion piece.
“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.”
Gain echoed O’Dea’s sentiments, stressing the environment and culture of a workplace is critical, he himself doesn’t have an office per se and sits on the agency floor.
He believes agencies need to follow the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon in creating an environment that is flexible and people want to work.