Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Turnover And Job Change Frequency Can Be Controlled

Turnover in the advertising business is legendary.  There are no statistics that I know of to show how often advertising people change jobs compared to other businesses, but from my experience and observation, job changing every two to three years may be average.  Nationally, I just read that in all jobs, people now take a new job every five years.  I have written about it many times.

The reason for this turnover in all business often has to do with money and advancement.  But another major reason is that people don’t like or resent their supervisors.
In advertising, gone are the days where employees knew for certain that they would be promoted and get salary increases on a scheduled basis.  And even at those agencies where there is a policy about the frequency of raises, it is almost inevitable that a salary freeze will be put in place that blocks an expected salary increase.  In advertising, the way that many people fight back, is to accept a new job and hope for a counter-offer; but as I have written, counter-offers almost inevitably result in the termination of that employee as soon as the agency can replace them.

However, all companies, especially ad agencies could control and lower turnover with just a few inexpensive changes.  

Raises must be given to employees on a regular and scheduled basis.  This is especially true of juniors – imagine living in New York City, Chicago or L.A. on $45,000 a year.  Putting in a wage freeze just as someone is due for more money is a sure way of driving them away.  I have met many senior people, who have worked at the same agency for a long time, and have not gotten a raise in three to five years; that is just unacceptable.  Given the rate of inflation, that means that people who have not gotten a raise in so many years are actually making less than they did before their last increase.  This, too, is unacceptable.

Promotions and rotations should be scheduled regularly.  This was one of the things I liked most about advertising when I was an account manager.  I loved working on new accounts and learning new industries. And I knew that I would be rotated after a couple of years – just when I needed a change.  Many agencies used to have policies about rotations.  They were built into the agency’s new business pitch and staffing proposals so that clients knew about and accepted these changes as part of hiring the agency.  For instance, until about the late 1990s, many agencies, prided themselves on their rotation policy at all levels.  Rotations just don’t happen much anymore.  This attractive feature of employment went away for two reasons; first, it was time consuming to administer and required human resources to make these complicated changes. And, second, the client fee system put clients in charge of who worked on their business and if the client liked, even a very junior person, that was the end of the rotation, despite that the client often rotated the people on the brand.

Promotions once could be expected on a regular basis.  Today, not so much.

Finally, there is no management training or counseling for poor supervisors (who may be very talented at their jobs otherwise). Occasionally, I have heard stories about how some companies have sent managers to therapists to learn how to manage the people who work for them, but this is rare.  In advertising, even when it is offered, managers claim that they are too busy to go and, unfortunately, management does not insist that they do so.  As long as their clients like them, they are immune to disciplinary action in terms of their management skills.

Turnover can be very expensive for a company.  While the financial people frequently only look at the out of pocket cost of replacement, lost productivity and lost knowledge are a huge unmeasured cost. If Human Resources were allowed to truly manage employees, I am sure that turnover could be lowered significantly. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Nine Changes You Should Know About In (Advertising) Recruiting Over The Last Many Years

While everyone talks about how the advertising and marketing business has changed, few people write about the search business. I thought it was a good topic.
Companies Have Eschewed Recruiters For The Internet
Perhaps the biggest change is that all kinds of companies are trying not to use recruiters.  Rather than trying to negotiate lower fees, companies have turned to electronic recruiting, which does not work. This is especially true of people under $100-150k.

Previously, At Many Companies, HR did not do the recruiting or initial screening
At least at ad agencies, many account groups did their own recruiting with their own favorite recruiters.  When recruiters knew the people they were recruiting for and had direct contact with them, recruiting was more efficient and, frankly, easier. 

HR sometimes coordinated and tracked candidates, but was mostly removed from the process.

Obtaining feedback was often easier and faster. Getting feedback directly from the person who did the interviewing was really helpful and speeded up the process.

Recruiters often met in person with hiring managers they did not know
This gave recruiters a sense of who they were hiring for and enabled the company and the recruiter to make a mutual connection. Recruiters could actually question the hiring managers to determine accurate job specs.

If the client was out of town, recruiters sometimes went to see them or they spent a great deal of telephone time with the people directly involved with the search.

Before Faxes, clients relied on recruiters to actually do their job by describing candidates and giving reasons why they were right for the job
As a result, recruiters were actually held to a higher standard than they are today.  

With the advent of Faxes in the late eighties, the human resources coordination became more pronounced.  With that, companies started to see candidates based on their résumés, not on their skills.

Email made it even worse.

Even Though It May Have Been Illegal, People Used To Ask Recruiters To Find Women
Believe it or not, back through the early to mid-nineties, we often got assignments which, sub-rosa, asked us to find women.  Responsible companies knew that they were overwhelmingly male dominated and actually looked for women.

Today, the business, especially at mid to lower levels, is dominated by women.

Candidates Used To Have Much More Intensive and Thorough Interviews
It was not uncommon, even at the biggest agencies and companies for even junior candidates to meet the CEO or President.  Today, not so much.

I have written that the old Chiat\Day (before TBWA) used to have a candidate do a minimum of 9 interviews (my record was 17 interviews there) to insure that prospective candidates were a good fit.  While it may seem excessive, it went a long way towards insuring that candidates matched their culture.  Today, again, not so much.

Help Wanted Ads Were Still Important and Vital
“I got my job through the New York Times” was an advertising campaign the Times ran because their help wanted ads were a huge section of the paper, especially on Sundays.  Ad Age and Adweek also had vital job listings, as did every trade paper in the country. (I hired more than one recruiter by using Adweek.)  Help wanted ads have been replaced by the internet, of course.

Candidates Returned Phone Calls
Years ago, when recruiters worked for most agencies and had many job listings, when recruiters called, candidates almost always returned the call.  Today, not so much.  In fact, because most companies have stopped using recruiters except for senior positions, many people have no idea what a recruiter does or can do, so they do not bother to return calls or emails.  Today, a search person can call and email (at business) dozens of times before a candidate will respond, albeit reluctantly. The reluctance is that most have no idea what a recruiter does or can do.

Companies Relied on Recruiters As Trusted Advisors
Many companies used recruiters to help with business problems.  I can think of the old Messner, Vetere, Berger, McNamee, Schmetterer (MVBMS, now Havas) agency calling me to come over for a lunch to discuss how to cut down on turnover on the MCI Business, which was so busy that it burned out people quickly. 
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