In an industry characterised by staff members who are overworked and underpaid, media agencies are struggling to keep their already small pool of talent.
align=justifyPaul Middleton, MD of Ebony and Ivory, agrees the problem has become worse. “This is a very tough industry. People can work fewer hours and make more money elsewhere so they leave. It’s just a matter of time before your staff gets poached”.
align=justifyNazeer Suliman, MD of Universal McCann, adds: “There has been a lot of movement this past year. The war is on for the best talent and most often, in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is well prized.”
align=justifyTo add fat to the fire the loss of experienced people has left very few mentors for newcomers. As a result, mediocrity looks set to become the norm.
align=justify”There are so many inexperienced people coming in and just not enough experienced people to teach them,” says Virginia Hollis, joint MD of the MediaShop.
align=justifySuliman says: “Like a spin cycle on a washing machine, it will continue to recycle the same mediocre talent from one agency to another at alarming salary levels. And in the process, continue to discount the value of its output and what it does.
align=justify”Soon mediocrity will prevail. And we’ll be paying a premium for mediocrity, if we aren’t already.”
align=justifyHollis says as a result of the lack of talent, “job-sharing” will soon happen which will cause further problems. “We are already running lean. People are being pushed to the limit.”
align=justifyTraining the new generation doesn’t seem to be working either, as staffers are poached during or just after the training has ended. “Some people in the industry aren’t doing any training. As a result we have become used to the poaching. We have learnt to expect it,” says Hollis.
align=justifyMiddleton says this can be gut-wrenching. “This really wrecks you. We are not sticking together as an industry. We need a serious clean-up.”
align=justifySuliman adds that the industry has done nothing constructive to solve the problem, but instead is “being petty, bad mouthing and running each other down”. R
align=justifyThere are a number of ideas regarding remedies. Middleton says it comes down to communicating with the opposition. “Everyone is responsible, so we need to work together. I have made a pact with other MDs (of media agencies) not to poach from them….and it works. I will never poach from another media agency.
align=justify”We have all been burnt to such a degree that we are now talking. If you aren’t talking about the staff members that are coming in and going out (of your company), then you are part of the problem.”
align=justifyHollis thinks the way forward is through training. “Training is vital. Every agency should take on staff and invest in training to increase the pool (of talent). We should all at least try.”
align=justifySuliman concludes by saying the industry “desperately needs new blood, new players, new industry bodies, new rules.
align=justify”(We need to) break down the walls. Stop using the ‘global shortage of talent’ as an excuse for the current state of inertia. Be maverick. Identify inlets into our industry. It is high time this industry re-invented itself.”