While recruiting talent is a concern, retaining talent is also a challenge. Consider that Alex Bogusky (Crispin Porter + Bogusky), Gerry Graf (Saatchi & Saatchi) and Eric Hirshberg (Deutsch) all left their creative jobs last year. This movement among executives is a trend that is likely to continue as the market recovers.
To further drive home the challenge of employee retention, a survey by Arnold Worldwide and the 4As found that “30% of the collective agency work force will be gone within 12 months.” And, 96% felt they could easily get a job, partly due to the recovering economy.
Since digital is at the forefront, many agencies are turning to students for their digital knowledge. For example, WPP’s direct marketing unit Wunderman has apprenticeship agreements with over a dozen schools globally whereby students work a three-to-six month stint for Wunderman, receiving stipends and sometimes college credit in return. WPP’s JWT last year had a reverse-mentor program where children (aged 9-14) of JWT executives worked on specific client projects, under the assumption that kids have a better understanding of the digital world than much of the workforce. Meanwhile, Publicis’ Leo Burnett has a group called “energy pool,” which consists of 35 US young adults, many right out of ad schools and digitally savvy, who go into different accounts as needed. And, just recently, Campbell Mithun used Twitter to choose six summer interns, a way to interest students in an advertising career.
And, many agencies are ramping up their training programs to train both current staff and new recruits. Training was an area that went by the wayside during economic difficulties. JWT North America’s CEO, David Eastman, says the advertising industry now knows that training is “critical.” Currently, big agencies are said to spend some $750,000 to $1.5 million on training programs – many having formal online and in-house workshops with classes in social media marketing and mobile marketing, and others send executives to take classes at digital ad schools. JWT and Leo Burnett are two agencies that are making digital training mandatory for most employees, and Burnett is rolling-out full day or week-long “digital boot camps” for many executives.
And what about crowdsourcing? It’s here to stay was the conclusion at the 4As Transformation 2011 conference. It’s a way to gather a variety of ideas for a lot less money. In fact, some see the agency of the future as being small but garnering support from many external people.