5 things that agencies must do to attract top talent

29 Feb,2012

By Rohit Ohri

The advertising industry is guilty of ‘criminal neglect’ in its approach to recruiting talent. For an industry that sells original thinking, this is surely creative suicide.


The good news is that no matter what the size of the company, attracting and retaining talent has more to do with one’s commitment to building a sustainable organisation, rather than how much one pays.


My core belief on talent management revolves around proactive engagement. If organisations proactively think about how they should keep their employees engaged over a period of time, attraction rates go up and attrition rates fall.


That said, here are five things advertising agencies must do to attract the best talent: I call it the REACH principle.


1. Reach wallets

It’s true that it takes more than just money. But it does take money. Beating the market is neither an attractive nor a sustainable practice when it comes to compensation.


Many companies ignore this truth and apply a famine and feast mentality when it comes to compensating creative talent. First under-paying, when the company has the leverage and then over-paying later, in order to attract or keep that talent from being snapped up by eager competition. This breeds suspicion and kills loyalty.


Instead, be relentlessly pro-active in maintaining market parity at every position, with bonuses and incentives for extraordinary results. This creates an environment in which financial resentment is not a motivation for your talent to look for new opportunities.


Desperate competitors may still over-pay. But when talent feels valued, the premium required to convince them to leave gives you an immediate competitive advantage.


2. Reach clarity

Clearly articulate your vision and then build around it. As a species, we are united by our instinct to create. We want to make things… especially, a difference.


Google’s success is driven by a simple premise – to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. A goal that attracts informs and unifies some of the most original thinking of the last ten years.


Define the change your company wants to make in the world. No matter how local. Nothing attracts like a clearly defined vision of a better future. Being made to feel that one plays a significant role in helping the company achieve its goals enhances performance and builds loyalty.


3. Reach goals

Measuring progress is one of the keys to harnessing creativity. A study in the Harvard Business Review showed that a sense of progress is the attribute which people value most in their day. Progress can only be measured on a continuum that has a beginning and an end.


Defining the difference you want your business to make provides the latter. The former comes from individual reviews – a subject worthy of its own post. Annual reminders of how far the organization has come are also imperative.


Celebrating the company’s anniversary with a retrospective comparison of where you were a year ago and now stand, is simple and powerful. It helps to reiterate goals and review the course…


4. Reach out

Be Open. Be Honest. Transparency is the most over-worked word in the English language at the moment. However, this does not make it less essential to attracting and retaining great people. Don’t build walls around you…break barriers and allow others to do too. If you want your people to respect your view points, respect their’s too.


5. Reach hearts

Say Thank You. The artist in all of us needs to be recognized. So does the human being. And yet most companies are slow to praise. Or even to thank. Thanking your people as often as possible is a small acknowledgement that you take neither their talent nor their choice for granted. Respect their choice to stay with you and chances are that they won’t go anywhere else in a hurry.


These steps require investment – of time – and a little money. Practice them collectively and your company will be irresistible – and invaluable…


Rohit Ohri is the Executive Chairman at Dentsu India Group


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