by Emma King (@EmmainSA) We know what a turmoil it is to train and upskill people, and we know how insecure clients feel when they constantly have to deal with new people, not to mention the financial (and emotional) burden of ongoing recruitment processes. So why aren’t we placing more focus on retaining good people?
by Alistair Mokoena (@AlistairMokoena) As MD of one of South Africa’s larger agencies I’m struck by the similarities between the migration of animal species and the movement of creative talent within our industry. The migration of talent used to be limited to advertising agencies. Now we are witnessing lots of movement of talent from traditional advertising agencies to small below the line shops, digital shops as well as to the client side, and vice versa.
Some animal species migrate from North to South and back. Others migrate vertically from high altitude forests to low altitude forests. These species migrate mostly in search of food and warmer temperatures as well as for breeding purposes.
The wildebeest migration in the Serengeti and the migration of European swallows come to mind. European swallows spend their breeding period in Europeso they can access food supplies and longer days. In winter, they migrate to the warmer southern hemisphere.
Before embarking on their journey to Southern Africa and the Indian sub-continent, they go on a feeding frenzy, which provides sustenance for their long sojourn. They travel in a large group on this long journey that takes them through North Africa, down the West Coast of Africa, all the way down to the South. Come spring, the swallows migrate back to Europe for their breeding season.
As MD of one of South Africa’s larger agencies I’m struck by the similarities between the migration of animal species and the movement of creative talent within our industry. The migration of talent used to be limited to advertising agencies. Now we are witnessing lots of movement of talent from traditional advertising agencies to small below the line shops, digital shops as well as to the client side, and vice versa.
Many employers in our industry are starting to use employee propositions to differentiate themselves. Employment contracts and remuneration packages are becoming a lot more creative. We are starting to see a combination of flexi time, relative job security, career paths as well as participation in share schemes.
Ironically all of this makes staff retention a nightmare for many agency MD’s. What compounds this retention problem is the fact that, unlike our parents’ generation, this generation of employees does not value tenure and loyalty. Not only is the world their oyster, it’s also a travelator, constantly on the go.
What I’m learning pretty quickly though, is that this musical chairs phenomenon is pretty normal in our industry. As European swallows are attracted to Europe’s abundant food supplies and long days in their breeding period, creative talent is attracted to agencies that are seen to be on the up and up.
Agencies that win pitches attract masses of creative talent. Agencies that boast a “sexy” client list and have an impressive collection of silverware are also quite alluring to talent.
Another observation I’ve made is that talented people tend to have a following, which means, when they move agencies, others migrate with them. It matters not how hard you try, using water tight contracts, to preclude them from poaching key staff or to stop key staff from following their heroes. At the end of the day birds with bright feathers cannot be caged. Is this perhaps what Bob Marley had in mind when he sang “exodus, it’s the movement of the people.” There’s got to be a better way, methinks.
Modise Makhene, CEO of JWT South Africa, says the singing by protesters in front of the JWT Cape Town office at 30 Keerom Street makes a familiar sound-track, what with its offices situated right across from the Western Cape High Court. The chanting and singing of the well-behaved crowd drifting into the offices on the Velocity building’s third floor is a reminder that ad land can’t afford to cocoon itself from the broader society – here ordinary South Africans are literally reminding them of their daily struggles on an agency’s doorstep.