Howdy! I came across a presentation buried within the Marketing Accountability Standards Board website that sparked a few thoughts on lowering staff retention. My gut tells me retention is becoming a bigger problem on the agency side. Particularly at bigger agencies. The problem might exist on the client side, too, as CMOs roles are being eliminated and/or devalued.
The presentation, written by some brand smarties at Deloitte, talks about a company’s brand and why “brand health” should be in the executive boardroom. Two stats in the deck jumped out at me as it relates to retention and recruiting:
- 40% of new hires are less likely to leave a company with a strong brand.
- And 50% of workers won’t even consider working for companies with a bad reputation.
I suspect that last number is even higher in professional services. This is why agency CEOs, presidents and agency Chief Talent Officers should be thinking about these issues.
No doubt about it: your brand – and how it’s perceived in the marketplace – impacts recruiting and retention. And of course it impacts new business.
So here are a few thoughts that can help inspire potential change that makes recruiting, retention and new business easier and more efficient:
Recognize you have a brand health problem
What’s this? You have high staff turnover? A declining employee tenure? Not enough candidates for great jobs? An increase in recruiting costs? Longer times to fill? Crappy Glassdoor ratings and reviews? An increase in base salaries compared to your competitors? You say new business is hard? Any/all of these measures can suggest you have an agency brand problem. And admitting it is the first step in fixing it.
Understand how & why it’s happening at your shop
Agency, heal thyself. Apply what you do for clients to your own agency. What makes that a more helpful statement is exploring what you can do to uncover the reasons behind the problem. An audit of sorts. A few areas to look at (with a smidge of context):
Your employees. Quantitative and qualitative surveys, onboarding / exit interviews and other initiatives will provide valuable insights. Keep in mind no one wants to get fired for speaking truth to power. So consider using a third party for some of this to drive employee candor and participation.
Your clients and prospective clients. This area has a lot more to do with new business than staff recruiting and retention. But there’s definitely a relationship between the kind of clients you have/attract and the kind of staff you keep/attract.
Your suppliers. This is another key (and often overlooked) resource. Suppliers know you well. They also work with your competitors. So they’re in a good position to know how you compare with your peers. Just having the conversation can yield a potential candidate to hire or a new business lead that wants to hire your agency.
Your industry. This category is a catch-all, including sources like trade associations, trade press, search consultants, and more. Insights in this area will help establish benchmarks. Research in area can also uncover more ideas and solutions. Related: if you’re looking for true innovation to fix brand reputation problems and recruiting & retention issues: look beyond the agency world into other professional services; brief some creatives; or hire outside experts.
What’s next? Invest!
Here’s part two of this post, offering you more ideas on how you can address and then solve a poor agency brand perception challenge.