Global viewpoint from New York
A view from Marie-Claire Barker

Global viewpoint from New York

New Yorkers are renowned for being hard workers, reported as having the longest working week in the US.

At the same time, the lure of a better working life with Silicon Valley’s "cool" benefits, flexible working and high salaries is difficult to avoid for those in media.

This isn’t a challenge that is purely isolated to the US. My role allows me to visit offices around the world and it is clear that, as an industry, we are facing a talent shortage. Technological advances mean we demand a new skillset and, on top of this, we’re not only competing against other agencies for the best talent but also against the tech giants and tech start-ups.

The influences that form our view of working life have been shaped by technological, cultural and social changes. We are now seeing a technology-enabled, values-driven, mobile workforce that plans in two- to three-year cycles.

Despite being an industry famous for its innovation, we are not known for applying innovation to the way we manage talent and are at risk of losing our most valuable assets. Too often, the in-house talent function is a "tick box" exercise. We need to create a passionate and curious culture, enabling talent management to drive business objectives. 

The future is a flexible workforce and we need to adapt to this and think differently. We need to reassess how we measure output, enabling employees to work remotely if that’s what they prefer. We also need to be innovative in the way we approach recruitment. We should use the right individuals when we need them for specific projects rather than feeling the need to "own" talent.  

To truly attract and engage the brightest, we need to embrace the two- to three-year job cycle to make the time spent at a company the best years of an employee’s career. By offering opportunities for growth, including deep dives into specialisms and training, we create a culture where people develop both professionally and personally. A key part of this is empowering them to incorporate wider goals into their work lives. If we are able to support someone who wants to volunteer at a food bank or write a book, we are helping them develop as rounded individuals and, in turn, promoting a long-term affinity to a company they might not otherwise have felt.

We are constantly reminded that competition in the industry is fierce. So we must ensure that we allow our talent to develop so that our clients, our business and the industry as a whole continue to thrive.

Marie-Claire Barker is the global chief talent officer at MEC