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The so-called Great Resignation is real. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the wave of people quitting their jobs peaked in September 2021, with an incredible 4.5 million people doing so. Labor Department figures showed that there were 10.6 million jobs available in the US, with 6.9 million people unemployed – that’s 1.5 jobs for every unemployed person. These are historic figures.

The marketing industry has been no exception, with Forbes citing a 25,000-strong industry survey that showed not only that 75% of respondents were expecting a wave of resignations, but 48% of them were expecting to leave their jobs themselves. These figures mark what Forbes calls a ‘fundamental shift in workforce mentality’. The pandemic not only gave many people an opportunity to re-evaluate their work/life balance, it also showed them the possibilities available to them. Many marketing industry employees launched freelance careers, becoming creators themselves, earning more money and putting control of their time back into their own hands.

Retaining talent in a changed industry

These are worrying numbers for agencies. Indeed, a survey reported at Campaign’s industry webinar ‘Talent, Transformation and Growth: the agency resurgence of 2022’ showed that 60% of agencies report retaining staff as their number one current issue. So what can be done to retain talent in an industry landscape that’s unrecognisable from its pre-Covid version?

Well, as Forbes said, people no longer care only how much money they make (though it’s still important) – they also care how they make it. That means agency culture is more important than ever before. If your agency is going through changes it can be particularly difficult to maintain the culture you’ve built so carefully, but making the effort on company culture is now absolutely essential.

Building a culture that values diversity, inclusion and equality, but more importantly living and retaining those values even if your workforce are working remotely, increases employee engagement and will play a huge role in retaining your best talent. But it’s just part of a broader approach to talent retention that, if it’s done right, contributes to your bottom line and ultimately the success of your agency:

  • Offer more flexibility in contracts to reflect the changed working landscape.
  • Place a particular emphasis on training to help mitigate the opportunities your employees may have lost from not being in a physical workplace to receive on-the-job training.
  • Be honest and transparent in communicating with them.
  • Get feedback, at least yearly, and anonymously so you know how they’re really thinking.
  • Invest in mental health/development initiatives to look out for their well-being.
  • Tech transformation is critical, as we’ve seen, but streamline your tech solutions to keep them simple. Too many different technologies confuse people and make their work more stressful, not less.

Let creative talent create

The wider effort to retain your best talent has to include the work itself, too. If you’re producing a lot of repetitive iterations from your creative work, offshoring the more mechanical work will not only save your agency money, it leaves the creative team free to concentrate on what they’re there for, and be more fulfilled in their work at the same time.

Collaborating with an offshore agency builds agility into your agency’s business model too. The ability to scale capacity up or down quickly when a big new project comes in or you win a pitch (something else, incidentally, that We Are Amnet can help you with) is hugely important. Even when world events provoke sudden changes in market conditions – an all-too frequent occurrence recently – such instant flexibility is invaluable. Particularly when scaling up, you’ll save considerable money on recruitment and not have to risk burn-out in your existing team if the extra capacity is already available to you.

Indeed, flexibility needs to be built into your whole model now employees have got used to the hybrid model of working. They’re looking for flexibility from their employers, so the agility inherent in a mixed model of in-house talent, agency work and offshore capacity works well for both sides.

Diversify to thrive

Another way to ride out unpredictable times, and broaden your employees’ skill set in the process, is to diversify. Providing your clients with more services is an ideal way to add value to your offering, and if you’re partnered with the right providers, you can expand your services without having to expand the company.

You’ll also gain the breathing space you need to on-board and train staff if you want to make new services a permanent part of your offering. Lean on translation and localisation services to extend your reach into new territories, for example, and get more income from the same original creative.

Whether you’re looking for increased capacity, to diversify into new activities, or producing your employee engagement materials, talk to We Are Amnet. Whatever it is you’re looking for, our Smartshoring® model makes the best use of talent wherever it may be to produce it quickly and cost-effectively.

Saskia Johnson

Author Saskia Johnson

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