The Good News and Bad News About the Talent Brand of the Ad Agency World [B2B Beat]

October 9, 2016

Okay, advertising agency world, what do you want to hear first?  The good news? Or the bad news?

Well, here’s the bad news: The advertising agency world is losing talent to the sectors it competes with for talent. LinkedIn platform data indicates that ad agencies experienced a net global talent loss to competitive industries, such as technology, in 2015. That means agencies are losing more talent than they’re gaining.

Here are some reasons why the agency sector is suffering a brain drain. First, there’s this eye-catching stat: first-year, post-college salaries in the advertising industry average $45,000 less than salaries in the tech sector. It’s part of the reason why agency employees are 19 percent more likely to be dissatisfied with their jobs than employees in competitive industries.

Other factors are contributing to ad agencies’ difficulties in attracting and retaining talent. Among the eight industries that ad agencies compete with for talent, agencies finish dead last in the categories of “work/life balance” and “long-term strategic vision,” according to employee perception. Agencies finished next-to-last in four other categories, such as “compensation and benefits” and “job security.”

In light of those facts, perhaps it’s no wonder that 44 percent of ad agency employees had updated their resume and 38 percent had updated their profile on LinkedIn in the past month. And it’s not like looking for a job is an idle threat in this economy: 96 percent of agency employees say they can find a new job “easily.”

But there is good news for agencies. Something – in fact, many things — can be done about this increasing talent deficit. Agencies can make changes to boost their capability to attract and retain talent. To attract and retain more talent, advertising agencies must improve their employer brands and their talent brands, which go hand-in-hand but are not quite the same.

An employer brand is a company’s purpose; it is the attributes and values that are associate with your company as a place to work. The talent brand is what the employees (past, present and future) of a company say about working there. “Talent brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is,” says Dave Hazlehurst, Partner, Ph.Creative.

Becoming a purpose-driven agency is crucial, because culture and values, which go hand-in-hand with purpose, is the most critical deciding factor for going to work at a particular agency for 83 percent of talent. Having a strong purpose also enables an agency to attract purpose-driven employees, which bring with them many benefits:

  • They are 30 percent more likely to be high performers
  • They are 54 percent more likely to stay five or more years
  • They are 69 percent more likely to be eNPS promoters (according to LinkedIn & Imperative’s “Purpose at Work 2016 Global Report”)

Agencies with purpose tend to realize a boost in their talent brand, which is critical to attracting new talent. Seventy-five percent of talent acquisition leaders say talent brand significantly impacts their ability to hire new talent.

Training and development are often overlooked aspects of building a strong talent brand. Overperforming companies invest 50 percent more in training than underperforming companies, according to Kantar Vermeer’s Marketing2020 study. Additionally, training is the trait Millennials most value in an employer.

The power of a culture of training that results in a strong talent brand can be summed up by a quote from entrepreneur Richard Branson: “Train people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

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Photo: Paul Stein

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