Where have all my staff gone?.

You’re not the only one asking this. It’s not easy to recruit and retain staff right now, and many agencies are struggling to deal with the so-called ‘great resignation’.

According to the ONS, the rate of job-to-job moves stood at a record high of 3.2% in the second half of 2021, following a dip in job changes during the pandemic.

These shocks to the labour market have had knock-on effects for businesses that rely on attracting new talent and retaining valuable employees, and creative agencies are no exception.

The talent shortage

The pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 saw fewer people coming into professional services, PR and digital jobs. Those industries are feeling the effects of this in 2022, while still facing difficulty recruiting.

Meanwhile, demand has remained strong – if not increased – during this period, putting a strain on these sectors as they struggle to get the work done with a shortage of new talent coming through.

Cuts to graduate schemes and internship opportunities of up to 30% have also meant there’s less talent coming in at a junior level – while, at the other end of the career spectrum, over 500,000 people aged 50 or over have left work during the pandemic, chasing early retirement.

All of these factors have contributed to the shortage and put a real squeeze on talent.

In turn, this has pushed staff wages up, and is making employers think hard about their proposition to staff and how to retain them. With a reduced talent pool, it’s important your employee value proposition stands out – otherwise you could be facing a real barrier to growth.

Creating the right culture

Offering higher salaries is part of the answer for many employers, especially against the backdrop of rising inflation rates and cost-of-living pressures.

But attracting and keeping staff is about more than that. Increasingly, a traditional 9-to-5 workplace simply isn’t enough to entice new talent.

People are looking for their employer to provide a culture they want to be a part of.

Establishing the right culture isn’t easy or straightforward. To begin with, employers need to ask themselves – and their staff – what makes a good culture?

A mistake some make is implementing what they perceive to be the signs of a fun, appealing workplace, without answering these central questions.

Putting a ping-pong table in the office, or giving out free food, for example, won’t transform your workplace on their own. But if you’ve established the foundations of a strong culture first, and these are things your staff really appreciate, then they can form attractive perks.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • What does your organisation value? Make sure this is more than a list of words – the values you set out should be things you genuinely believe in, that run through the whole of the business.
  • What do your employees value? If this doesn’t match the above, you could have a culture problem. Think about practical, tangible things your business can offer employees that fit these values.
  • How are you communicating your values and goals across the organisation? Clarity is essential to effective work and motivation, helping people to feel they’re working towards a common goal.
  • Can you offer greater flexibility? Remote working became the norm for many workers during the pandemic, and now, many people are reluctant to go back to restrictive hours and five days in the office. Think about the ways of working that are best for you and your staff.
  • Are you paying your staff fairly? Discrepancies in pay within the business, or compared to others in the industry, can stir up discontent. Take the time to assess whether you’re offering a fair reward for your team’s work.

Get advice

We at Spark have heard from a lot of our clients who are dealing with this issue – and while there’s no single answer to it, there are various options to consider to get new talent coming back into the business.

Talk to us for specialist, practical advice on running your creative agency.

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