How to Hang on to Digital Talent

What's Going on in Their Heads as They Decide Whether to Stick With You

By Published on .

Anyone on the hiring end knows that digital agencies are suffering from a worsening talent drought. You can probably bank on the fact that some of your sharpest talent has one foot out the door. For that reason, you've got to be sure you're tuned in to what your employees are thinking, what they want and what might be driving their dissatisfaction.

I've tried to stay close to our team here, and based on their feedback, here's some insight into the questions your employees may be asking themselves and the issues that matter most to them. Consider how the following might apply to you and your team:

For whom do I work?
Interactive marketing is about building client relationships, using marketing, communications and cutting-edge technology to support the building process. In other words, your company is worth little without its team members. You should start your relationship-building practice with your employees first. In the interactive space, where money isn't everything, fun, nurturing and exciting opportunities rule the day. Team members need leaders who listen; qualified teammates who know how to collaborate; the ability to enjoy life outside work; and room to move horizontally or vertically depending on their preferences for either knowledge expansion across media or increased corporate responsibilities.

Where am I working?
Employees are tired of winters in Chicago, the cost of living in New York or San Francisco and the traffic in Los Angeles or Seattle; they may be thinking about a change of venue. They also may be looking for a lifestyle change, the ability to buy a house or the option of taking mass transit to work. Those who want to make their marks may be looking for opportunities to play larger roles in smaller venues (and maybe even have a life) in nascent interactive markets.

And for many professionals in the interactive space, moving to a smaller market no longer means sacrificing working with the best and brightest. If you're trying to keep your people in these larger markets, know that the pull of less stress is a major one you need to consider.

What am I doing?
Interactive agencies should provide their employees with a unique mix of interactive marketing and consulting, as well as the opportunity to create and advance new technologies. Large-market interactive agencies partner with industry leaders around the country to provide clients with the highest level of collaborative return. While it is very important to give team members access to blue-chip and bleeding-edge work experience, the operations and overhead costs associated with larger markets often drive other metrics that negatively affect team building.

Companies with smaller-market headquarters can keep production costs low enough to give them an edge over the larger agencies in key geographic areas while still having a presence for accounts in those larger markets. So it's vital that the people you employ in these larger markets get to interact with your clients and learn consultatively -- otherwise, why would they stay?

With whom am I working?
Interactive-agency team members work very closely with one another, often under time constraints and other external pressures. Therefore, employers must take hiring for these teams very seriously. Candidates should participate in behavioral interviews and undergo situational-response assessment before to being invited onboard. For example, we hold recruiting socials that enable candidates an opportunity to mingle with MindComet executives and future team members. Social events also provide an opportunity for candidates to brainstorm and present to the team. Our candidates are given unique homework assignments so they can show us their skills in real-life, interactive-agency scenarios. This process allows both the candidate and the company to assess the fit. The interview doesn't start and end across a desk.

Am I having any fun?
Every company tells recruits it is committed to a positive work environment, but not all companies take nurturing a positive work environment -- and fun -- seriously. Because of the nature of the interactive vertical, your company's reputation for being "not fun" may already precede your recruiting attempts.

The best companies in our space have team members who truly love their jobs and the culture they create. But you have to work at nurturing it. We hold annual companywide retreats, for example. In the past two years, our retreats have been held in the Bahamas and at Club Med.

If the extent of your firm's team building is a monthly happy hour, some of your people are probably sending their resumes to me now as you're reading this. You can stop that, of course. But you've got to be tuned in to what your employees want. Otherwise, they'll walk.

Tara Lamberson is VP-marketing and solutions at MindComet.
Most Popular
In this article: