Adapt to Attract: What Agencies Must Address in 2022 to Build Teams and Keep Talent
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Current employment news has an increasingly familiar refrain. Whether the industry is fast food or financial planning, delivery driver or data entry, there are jobs aplenty available. Companies have realized that attracting and keeping top talent within their ranks is, accordingly, a top priority. Nowhere is this more evident than within the advertising and marketing biz. Leadership at shops large and small, at in-house agencies and marcom departments, and even among the legions of freelancers flirting with a return to the stability of agency or company life are commanding — and receiving — the compensation, benefits, and remote flexibility.
Talent is still proving tough to track down. This past summer — a time when work tends to slow and staff needs to stabilize -- many decision makers were getting nervous about the gap between open positions and available talent. Creatives (and, as we’ll see, a strong class of tech pros) have been hanging back, weighing options, and holding out for ideal circumstances. Agencies are chomping at the bit to bring the best people on board, which means the best people are happy to court offers and weigh options.
What caused this condition? The obvious answer has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in what specific ways has that impact expressed itself?
Every business has felt the pandemic’s effect on workplace structure, teleworking, and virtual collaboration. Today, we probably “Zoom” more than we meet face to face. That seismic shift in how we work has not only made working from home plausible, for many it’s made it preferable. Employees are outright over with hour-long commutes. A recent survey by the Association of National Advertisers about remote and hybrid working noted one of the strongest responses boiled down to this sentiment:
"After working remote now for over a year, I can’t ever see working face to face again. Going forward, working remote will be a must for any future job that I take."
Talent, Transformation and Growth: Creative Agencies in 2022
How have creative agencies evolved to meet the current challenges, and what are their top priorities for the year ahead?
Looking Out for Number One
Here’s an absolute truth: the days when you worked decades for a single company are long gone. Gen X was perhaps the first workforce wave to recognize that you work for yourself, even if you work for someone else. That means your eyes are always open for better opportunities. Fast forward to today’s Millennial and Gen Z talent and that energy is beyond amplified. This is a workforce that wants plenty of flexibility, perks, and opportunities to acquire new skills from their employers, as well as competitive compensation. If those aren’t served up, they’re happy to move on.
The Intersection of Tech and Creative
In the B2C and even B2B realms, e-commerce is commanding center stage. That means agencies need people who not only come up with catchy slogans and eye-catching images, they also need the programmers, developers, and UX/UI experts who can design, develop and deploy intuitive e-commerce platforms. A recent Forrester piece offering predictions on agency talent expectations for 2022 noted that smart agencies are understanding the need for both compelling creative and strong tech skills to deliver the goods for clients looking to avoid “digital sameness”.
". . . agencies will bring creative campaigns to product launches on Amazon Marketplace; scale livestreaming in China, Europe, and the Americas; and finally make creativity relevant to category owners and traditionally B2B scenarios . . . "
The takeaway here is that people who straddle those skill sets, who have stellar technological proficiency and a marketing mind, are in the Unicorn category . Spot one and you better snag them and for goodness sake, keep them happy!
All of this speaks to agencies having to themselves get creative in how they will attract, train and retain talent in 2022. The search for solid creatives, admins and management will have to be anchored by an understanding of new, now indelible expectations of hybrid and remote work accommodation. And with similar, perhaps even more intensity, agencies will have to hunt for tech pros who can deliver on the new demand for engaging, interactive, multifaceted marketing efforts.
This landscape is definitely the new normal. Professionals have a strong sense of their intrinsic value, an appreciation of an untethered work environment has become the expectation, and everyone is contributing to the merge of creative consultation and deep data analysis. The agencies able to both accommodate and empower their people will be building the strongest, most successful teams, and they will be perfectly positioned to take the lead in the year ahead.
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