Martin Agency: We'll Pay You to Hire Talent We Laid Off

Shop Lets Employees Go With Severance Packages, Incentive for Prospective Employers

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The Martin Agency may be one more shop to have wielded the ax, but at least it is trying to soften the blow.

When client cutbacks drove the Interpublic Group of Cos. shop to cut 5% of its staff last week, each of the 24 affected employees received a severance package, plus an offer: The agency is promising to pay prospective employers one half of the first month's salary, up to $4,000, for any laid-off employee hired by May. It may not sound like much, but collectively, that's a commitment of nearly $100,000 -- not exactly a drop in the bucket for any agency in these cash-strapped times.

"We're trying to think creatively about how we can get the employees we let go hired by someone else, and hopefully incent them to get them on their payrolls right away," said Beth Rilee-Kelley, partner at Martin and director of human resources. "We believe that it's important that if you are faced with a layoff situation, you think of creative ways to help our employees land on their feet."

The cuts, Martin's first since 2006, affected staffers in its Richmond, Va., headquarters as well as its smaller New York office. They came even though the shop -- which made Ad Age's 2008 Agency A-List -- delivered its best year in its 43-year history.

"We've seen steady erosion in projected spending among several of our clients during the past six to eight weeks," a spokesman said. The agency's biggest client is Walmart, and it also churns out work for Geico, UPS and the American Cancer Society.

As a faltering economy has driven marketers to scale back on their marketing, agencies and media companies have suffered a tremendous loss of talent -- by some estimates fast approaching 100,000 employees.

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Know of an agency or marketer that has come up with a creative way to help their laid-off employees reenter the job market? If so, let us know in the comments section below or, or write to Agency News reporter rparekh@adage.com and let her know.

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