Succession planning at ad agencies has become increasingly more challenging as work-from-home and hybrid models have made it harder to identify and prepare junior and mid-level employees for promotions. But work-from-home models can only be blamed for so much, hiring experts said.
Three agency executives, including one from a top holding company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the biggest element employees miss from working remotely is observing in person the way senior executives do their jobs, including running meetings with clients and managing people. They said they’re having trouble replicating those experiences for them.
“It is easier to develop talent from a learning and development perspective in the agency than remotely,” one global CEO of a holding company-owned agency said. “When you’re not working in an office, you don’t hear anything. If you can hear what your boss is saying, you’re learning on the job. At home, it’s very, very difficult to do that.”
The CEO said it’s been especially hard to get employees to return to the office in the U.S., even more so in West Coast states. The person works out of London where a couple hundred people are always in the office, while the agency’s San Francisco office is often empty.
Also read: The importance of going back to the office
Michael Haight, senior VP of client success for WorkReduce, which provides staffing services to the ad industry, said he’s seen the gaps his agency clients have between the executive and junior levels.
“In some places our team is able to step in and provide some of it, but in other places, the clients are really struggling to figure [it] out,” he said.