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If the marketing industry is in a fight for talent, who will win?

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By Sam Anderson | Editor, The Drum Network

June 8, 2022 | 6 min read

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What's this?

Depending on who you ask, we’re still amid a ‘great resignation’, with workers quitting their jobs and re-evaluating their futures. All this against a backdrop of inflation and resulting global economic uncertainty. The upshot for brands and agencies is a squeeze on talent, with roles left open for months and increased challenges around retaining even recent hires. So: if the fight is on, what are the best tactics? We asked 7 experts from The Drum Network.

A chess game: white queen beats black king

What's the winning strategy in the battle for talent? / GR Stocks via Unsplash

Tilly Morgan, operations and people director at Wilderness: time to go poaching

I can keep this short. There is a fight for talent. And if you want to win it, you need to be better at poaching talent.

Anna Ellis, senior vice president, talent management at Known: a workforce transformed

We’re in a war for talent, but it’s a by-product of a workforce transformation. That workforce change is what we need to be focusing on, not the war for talent.

The workforce is changing; expectations are changing; generations are coming into the workforce that have new philosophies. It's becoming a candidate’s market and a much more transitional industry: people aren't staying in an agency much longer than 18 months. So, what are we doing as an organization to build a culture that creates attraction and retention?

At Known, we’re looking at how we’re making sure we're staying authentic to our original DNA and values so that we're building an authentic culture to support that workforce transformation. How do we continue to offer opportunities for a mutually-beneficial experience for as long as they're there with us, whether it's 18 months or five years?

Francois Boshoff, creative director at Media Bounty: retention retention retention

Power has shifted from employers to employees. If you’re good at what you do, you've got more chances than ever, more offers to choose from than ever before. There’s never been a better time to think: ‘what I do? Where do I go from here?’

The question is what we do to keep people. What's the environment? Do you feel like you belong? Do we give a balanced workload? Do we set expectations up-front? It’s up to us.

Jo Sellar, group head of people and talent at Remarkable Group: the industry’s responsibility

The onus is very much on the employer to make changes and stand out in the industry. It's a competition between employers within an industry, not just a fight for talent. The question is, what are we doing to better ourselves? But also, what are we doing to better the industry as a whole so that a candidate isn't just picking a company because they're miles ahead of everyone else; they've got a breadth of companies to choose from, all offering something just as good.

David Burgman, managing director at Raptor: differentiate to stand out

There's definitely a fight for talent. Post-pandemic, a lot of agencies have spun off and set up independently; and pent-up client budgets have now fed back into the agencies. There are more agencies and more candidates. Salaries will continue to increase because of that pent-up demand. You fight that battle with what you offer as perks to ensure that it's not just about salary v salary. Building your brand and culture as an agency is more important than ever.

Sophy Vanner Critoph, head of strategy at Amplify: back to basics

I don't think it's a fight for talent. I think it's a fight for businesses to do what they say they do for their clients and understand who they are. As soon as you know who you are, what your values are, what your vision is, you'll find the people that match that.

Nicholas Jenkins-Smith, design director at Siegel+Gale: the great values shift

Recruiters will probably tell you that there's always been a fight, but it's just a bit more acute and perhaps a little bit more unfair now. There's a reorientation of values, from company values to what candidates value. Candidates are aligning to companies that that they feel align with their values.

Companies can win by speaking more clearly and intentionally about how we plan to develop candidates. If you have a clearer vision, that could be the clarion call that attracts the best talent, as opposed to salaries and all the other stuff that everyone else is competing on.

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