Agency Execs: Ad Age’s Best Places to Work 2019 Is A Wake-Up Call

The employment rate is currently sitting at 3.7%, the lowest it has been since the ’60s. At this point, the number of jobs available greatly surpasses the 19% of marketers actively searching for new jobs. As an agency executive, it’s time to step it up if you seek to hire, and more importantly, retain top talent because your employees can quite literally go anywhere else.

So, how do you get your agency in a position where all your employees are asking themselves, “why would I ever want to work somewhere else?” The answer- empower your staff to have satisfaction out of the work that they produce at work while also supporting their personal goals and ambitions.

If your agency wasn’t listed on this year’s Ad Age Best Places to Work 2019, there is always hope for next year, but you’ve got to start making changes now. Here is what the recipients of this award are doing differently:

1. Culture That Puts Employees First

Having ping-pong tables, beer taps and gaming consoles certainly won’t hinder your agency’s culture, but there is more to it than “free stuff.” When it comes to attracting talent, these awards prove that employees care more about benefits, fair pay, health insurance, and PTO.

For example, several of the agencies listed allow their employees to work remotely while also providing unlimited vacation days. Zach Morrison, president of Elite SEM, explains it perfectly as he quotes, “Most agencies are client-first. We believe in being people-first; they deliver for clients, which delivers the overall success of an organization.”

2. A Workplace That Stands for Something

Many of the agencies who made this list are incredibly passionate about something outside of their business. More importantly, they actually incorporate the importance of their beliefs deep into the roots of their culture.

The media agency, UM, is a perfect example as they passionately strive for diversity among their hallways. A personal goal of theirs is to have an employee diversity mix in 2020 that reflects what the US population is projected to look like in 2040. Whether that be gender-based, ethnicity-based, or LGBTQ-based, the goal for the organization is to have the company directly represent every diverse population in which they serve.

3. Leadership That Builds More Leaders

People want to feel important; it’s really as simple as that. It’s vital for your agencies leadership to let entry-level and mid-tier employees feel heard while also teaching them how to grow within the company.

Two agencies on the list do a really great job at achieving this. The digital agency, Again Interactive, has never had an employee leave within 26 months. “We always enjoyed being at places that weren’t these huge agencies where you lose your name, become a number,” said CEO, Glenn Whiting. He explains it all starts with how leadership trusts and empower their staff. When someone has a great idea, they should be encouraged to speak up.

Cogent Entertainment Marketing does a great job at this as every employee is set up with a mentor inside or outside of the company. The owner of the agency found that his employees care more about achieving success than receiving free gym-memberships and several lunches, things he refers to as “wasteful” perks.

So what can you learn as an agency executive from these awards?

According to Ad Age, six things that matter most to employees today are benefits, company culture, employee development, company environment, employee engagement, and employee perks. Having toys around the office and numerous perks will not solely win the loyalty of your employees. Instead focus on building a culture full of transparency, trust, and growth. Also, rising generations are more successful when they feel their employers care about their contributions both inside and outside of work. Invest the time to know what makes your team tick.

Building a better culture today will lead to a better agency tomorrow – and who knows, maybe you’ll see your agency’s name on this list next year. Good luck!

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Erynn LaFlamme

As the Senior Digital Marketing Specialist, Erynn works directly with the Catapult Sales team to execute targeted campaigns that generate qualified leads. With a background in agency new business, she delivers a unique insider's perspective on the challenges agencies face in regard to business development.

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