Mind the gap

OPINION / 30th August 2016

Talent is the biggest headache facing digital agencies today. Fact.

In an industry where winning work almost wholly relates to the skills and experience your agency offers, attracting the right blend of youth and ability is fundamental. After all, without a conveyor belt of top-draw candidates you can’t hope to sustain your existing customers let alone bring on new ones. 

It’s not just about finding the best people, either.  Being an attractive talent proposition is about offering the right culture and incentives as well as the opportunity to grow and develop, be it via on-the-job learning and in-house training schemes. After all, staff that are nurtured – and feel they can advance within a business – are likely to hang around and continue to be billed on nice day rates. 

As with anything, having a brand and reputation which turns heads helps. If you’re renowned for growing good people, in a fantastic environment, and have a stellar client portfolio to boot, then there’s likely to be a queue of candidates at your door. Over the past couple of years, there’s been a step-change in the way agencies address the talent conundrum.

It’s not just about chucking a JD to the least tyre-kicking recruiter you know, and hoping for the best – today it’s about having an actual talent programme.One that focuses on retention as well as acquisition. And it’s not hard to see why.

For every staffer an agency loses, it’s estimated to cost £16k to replace them – and that doesn’t include recruitments fees, lost IP and productivity, or the damage to a client relationship. That’s an extra bill. Depending on the maturity of the agency’s set-up, today’s talent programmes boast sophisticated talent software, with candidate databases and interview score-carding, plus on-boarding strategies, leadership KPIs (measured via staff surveys) and HR staff that are incentivised to reduce attrition. And let’s not forget graduate schemes, and training programmes with budgets that are geared to reward individual performance.

In an industry with so much known competition for talent, it’s no surprise that agencies are starting to take retention as seriously as acquisition. Bonus schemes and competitive wages are great, but they no longer keep cut it for today’s talent – be it Gen Y or older. Staff want to super-charge their careers in this digital gold rush, and unless they feel valued and know they can advance with you – opportunities await elsewhere.

Mark Hopkins Mark Hopkins Executive Director Mark Hopkins