The revelation that 45 per cent of media agency staff would leave their company tomorrow if offered another job raises the question of whether the industry is doing enough to attract and retain the top talent.
The finding, revealed at the Media360 conference earlier this month, comes from research conducted by the consultancy Best Companies, which compiles The Sunday Times’ list of the 100 best companies to work for.
Media agencies actually performed quite well in this year’s list, with PHD at number 18, and MEC, Carat and Starcom MediaVest Group also featuring.
But the lack of loyalty revealed by the research may reflect growing competition for people with digital and data skills from new-media businesses such as Google and Facebook. Luring graduates with technical and maths backgrounds into media agencies is tough, as they would naturally gravitate towards tech companies such as social media and search giants.
Media agencies need to work harder to get the industry on the career consideration list of computer and maths graduates while, at the same time, ensuring their businesses are as fun and inspiring places to work as the best Silicon Valley companies.
Many graduates have little idea that the industry even exists, let alone that it offers an exciting and rewarding career. Agency bosses have been active in getting out to schools and colleges to promote the industry, though perhaps they need to do more. Many graduates seem to be more attracted to working at creative agencies, brand owners, media owners or management consultancies.
Agencies appear to be getting better at boosting staff retention. The best ones have strong and inspiring leaders and offer their employees opportunities for learning and development. They also make staff feel valued by listening to their suggestions and offering fun perks such as their birthdays off.
Jed Glanvill, the former Mindshare chief executive who now runs a talent agency for interim media staff, suggests that holding companies could do more to offer graduates varied roles across different types of agency.