Win the War for Agency Talent in the New World of Work

January 13, 2022

TwitterTweet it:'In this new world of remote/hybrid work environments, agencies have not only changed how they operate, but have also recognized the need to transform their approach to recruiting and hiring top talent'

Ask any agency leader what his or her biggest priority is for 2022 and you’ll most likely receive the same response: attracting and retaining talent. In an industry where talented people are the main commodity, the kind of talent you attract and hire is critical to any agency’s success. In this new world of remote/hybrid work environments, agencies have not only changed how they operate, but have also recognized the need to transform their approach to recruiting and hiring top talent.

In our recent webinar with Adweek, Winning the War for Agency Talent, three industry leaders from George P. Johnson, the Munroe Agency and Known shared actionable insights on how agencies should position themselves to attract and hire the best talent in the industry.

Promote Work-Life Balance & Company Culture

According to Susan Scott, SVP of Talent and Culture at George P. Johnson, salary is no longer the main factor for candidates seeking a new job, but rather work-life balance has become a critical element in the workplace. “When you talk about work-life balance, I think we are all struggling, and that balance is not an easy thing to achieve. One of the benefits that we offer to our employees is unlimited PTO, and employees don't always take it. So we're having our leaders taking time off for themselves and asking them to talk about taking time off and encouraging this to their staff. We want our leaders setting an example by taking PTO and disconnecting from email and work. Because as much as we say, “take the time off,” if that example is not being set by leadership, employees won’t do it.”

Alyssa Adelson, SVP of Talent Acquisition at Known, agrees with Susan and believes that company culture and how you brand your agency, will help attract talent. “As an agency, part of what your culture and your organization means is identifying really what your core values are and sticking to that…having your management support it, and then fueling that and everything you do. So, when salary isn't enough, your agency’s culture is what has to shine through. First your agency has to decide who you are and who you want to be, and then go find the right talent to reflect that and compliment that, and help you grow and be where you want to be.”


Winning the War for Agency Talent

Learn how future-proofed agencies should position themselves to attract and hire the best talent in the industry.

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Focus on Mental Health & Wellness

In the agency world of intense deadlines and frequent overtime, burnout has become a major obstacle in the industry, and has only worsened throughout the pandemic. Employees are feeling the heavy weight of working long hours and weekends to meet increasing client deliverables and feeling the need to be “always on.” Coupled with this, personal matters such as family health and well-being have become key concerns. All of these stresses take a toll on both physical and mental health.

Brianna Minko, Group Account Director at The Munroe Agency, says her agency is very cognizant of employee burnout and they encourage team members to take time off when they sense an employee is showing signs of exhaustion or working long hours. “At our agency, we will tell our employees to take time off if we sense burnout. We will express to them, “Listen, you deserve the time off since you killed it on this project this week, take tomorrow off. You worked long hours and deserve a break with family and friends.” Sometimes employees just need that level of additional encouragement so we try to support our teams as best we can even if that means taking time off.”

Alyssa agrees with Brianna’s approach and adds, “The first thing that an organization needs to do is acknowledge that employment is no longer a one-sided relationship. When an employee starts at the company, you have to understand, that it’s a commitment, it's a relationship, it's a partnership. We're not punching a clock in and out of an office. We’re talking about the idea of flexibility, not just ability anymore.”

Empower Employees & Look Beyond the Resume

At a time when the need for superior talent is increasing, agencies are finding it challenging to recruit qualified candidates. However, leveraging your current employees may be the easy solution. Referral programs are often times more cost-effective than relying on job boards to find and hire applicants, and is a great strategy to tap into a large, qualified pool of job seekers. “We offer a $500 referral bonus program,” says Brianna. “We offer a bonus if our employees know anyone that would be a great candidate for an open position and if they are hired for the job. An extra added bonus is that you get to work with someone you know, really like and know will do a great job for the company.”

At George P. Johnson, Susan shares a different approach and believes that even though her agency may not recruit the most experienced applicant, agencies sometimes have to look beyond the resume. “We’re not getting a high volume of candidates applying to our open positions. But, it's that idea that if an applicant has a little bit of a fundamental foundation, there's this thing called a modern polymath approach. It’s where somebody may not know how to solve it, but they know enough to ask questions to be able to figure it out. It's a type of recruiting for that mindset where, they have a little bit of skillset but are motivated to learn and grow in that role. With that in mind, they're going to be able to succeed at GPJ because they're going to be able to figure it out, by asking the right questions and move along. They are adaptable and ambitious.”

In conclusion, our panel provided recommendations around recruitment and retention that forward-thinking agencies should recognize and apply. Here are just a few that were highlighted:

     1. Set the example for work-life balance

     2. Check-in often with employees

     3. Be transparent about career paths

     4. Offer and take mental health days

     5. Know/define/articulate your company, brand and core values

To get the full list of suggestions and other best practices from our agency leaders on how to win the war for agency talent, watch the On-Demand recording of the webinar now.

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