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Your young talent expects to move on: What can you do about it?

Your young talent expects to move on: What can you do about it?
Bray Leino’s Austen Donnellan discusses why your talent expects to leave you, and what you can do about it in the second of a blog series.

Agency movers and shakers met up at the IPA Client Leaders Dinner last week to talk about talent, young talent – how to attract it, and how to hold on to it.

Young people are five times more likely to change jobs than their older colleagues and even more so when you look at just the top performers. They expect to move around, and if they’re not getting what they want, they will, at the drop of a hat.

Gary Stolkin from Talent Matters set out the three burning issues that could be exacerbating the problem:

Firstly, we don’t give enough attention to personnel reviews. These are far more important to younger employees, and they’re an early warning system that can identify when talent isn’t being valued. Ensuring regular reviews goes a long way to reducing the attrition rate among Millennials and Generation Z.

Secondly, your agency reputation (your ‘brand’) needs to be in good working order to attract the best talent. An agency’s profile is a critical thing for Generation Z. If you’re not living by what you promise and demonstrating the sorts of qualities and values that resonate with them, they’re unlikely to give you a second look.

In addition to this, ‘good leavers’, departing employees, are walking, talking ambassadors for your employer brand. In an industry where career hopping is increasingly prevalent, they can carry your message to their peers, and talent returning to an agency sends a strong signal that your ship is heading in the right direction.

Thirdly, be more pragmatic and occasionally ruthless about keeping your best talent. If you want to prevent someone from sailing off to a competitor, ask yourself whether you’re willing to match their salary aspirations to keep your brilliant talent. And always think about the others things that you can do to retain them beyond just salary, as this is what might be more motivating to Generation Z. The cost of replacing talent may be far greater.

Young people make up an increasing percentage of all our intakes. They can be challenging to work with because they think differently; and in a lot of cases they’re forcing a reassessment of some of the established ways of working. Change can be hard, but it’s inevitable, so what can we do? This is what the IPA Client Leaders said.

1) Make them proud. Instil a sense of pride and responsibility in your younger talent. From creative to client services, digital technologists to planners, they want to be valued and actively contribute to making the agency brilliant. So give them real, manageable, achievable projects with the right level of responsibility.

  • Allow them to raise their own profile and make themselves famous to the wider industry (doing your own agency profile no harm in the process). They’re looking for inspiration, not just a set of perfunctory tasks, so think about ways that you can inspire them above and beyond the day to day work requirements.

2) Regular, two way feedback. Scrap the annual review palaver. Young talent needs more frequent, regular feedback. They need to know where they’re doing well and where they’re not. Rather than the annual review, think about having a review every month, for 10 minutes, and allow them to voice their feedback on you, share their achievements, feelings on their progress, and for you to give timely, specific and authentic direction. Ensure you agree actions to be reviewed the following month.

3) Invest your time. As senior leaders and managers within our businesses, ask yourself whether you’re really doing enough to engage and understand your younger talent. You need to give them time, ensuring that the approach and mindset is embedded throughout the agency culture.

  • This commitment might manifest itself through regular, informal lunches; involving younger employees in real discussions on agency or client performance or ensuring talented young starters are properly valued from the start.
  • Research suggests that Generation Z favours flatter management structures, so encourage peer to peer feedback that cuts across whole swathes of the organisation, giving everyone the opportunity to be clear and open with those above and below them. It’s what they are used to in their digital social lives, so expect it in their work lives too.

By shining a light on your younger talent, you’re indicating internally and externally that your business is more than fit for purpose. It’s bursting with young vitality and creative, strategic energy.

Engaged and talented young people, who feel valued and supported by their superiors, make an agency an exciting place to be. What better tonic for an employer brand can there be?

What do you think? Can you ever tame the career hopping tendencies of this new generation? Please feel free to add your comments below.

In Bray Leino’s final blog on talent, we’ll ask you what type of agency personality are you, and what this says about the way you are perceived within your organisation.

Check out the first blog in the series, "Five reasons I don’t want to work for your agency"

Austen Donnellan is Client Services Director at Bray Leino.

The IPA hosts their Talent Adaptathon on 8th October. Learn more about the ADAPT agenda.

Last updated 02/07/2014

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