Human resources

High Employee Turnover? How to Get Interview Tests Right

Hiring managers can be a little narcissistic. When interviewing job candidates, they favor people who remind them of themselves over those who are most qualified. They're not alone: Everyone's got a streak of narcissism to some degree. But hiring managers directly influence who works at your company, so it's a good idea to keep their self-love in check. Yet the standard interview process does the exact opposite. Unless you're Google, your hiring process probably looks something like this: Interviewers bring in candidates, ask a few questions, do way too much of the talking, and give jobs to the people they like the most (translation: the people most similar to them). Unsurprisingly, a high percentage of these "mini-me" hires turn out to be duds. By the time you realize someone is a bad fit, you've wasted resources, upset clients, and frustrated your other employees. Fortunately, you can avoid all these problems by integrating screening and performance tests into the interview process. Test drives for potential hires Companies often rely on personality tests and social media screening to weed out lackluster candidates. But personality tests are poor predictors of whether people will perform well, and candidates know that potential employers scrutinize social media, so they craft their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles carefully. Their online personas may not align with who they are in real life. If you really want to know whether someone is a fit, you need to run better tests. The first step toward identifying high-quality candidates is comparing them to the best people in their fields. My company does this by using a list of top performers in other agencies and assessing applicants alongside their standout peers. We analyze how similar their behaviors, motivations, [...]

How many hours should ad agency employees work?

How do you track billable time in an agency, and how many hours should ad agency employees work? This is a question that comes up all the time in my work with agencies.  The expectation in terms of a work week ranges from 37.5 hours a week to 50 hours a week although most agencies will say 40 in terms of hours worked in a week.  So that gives us a range from 1950 hours a year to 2600 hours a year with most people citing the 2080 hours a year number (40 hours/week).  But given an average of 3 weeks of time off (vacation and sick) and 10 work holidays (which translates to 5 weeks off) that gets you down to 1762.50 (37.5) to 2,350 as a range with 1880 hours a year being the 40 hour work week average. So when you think about how you're going to track billable time, the rule of thumb is that no employee can be billable 100%.  So here’s the best practices expectations by job function: Project Managers/Production Managers — 80% which is 1,504 hours at the 1880 hours in a year model Sr. Account Staff who have more admin/new business responsibilities — 70% which is 1,316 at the 1,880 hours in a year model Account Executives (jr and mid range)  -- 80% which is 1,504 at the 1,880 hours in a year model Creatives (writers and art directors) -- 75% which is 1,410 at the 1,880 hours in a  year model Media — 90% which is 1,692 at the 1,880 hours in a year model   And then you have your admin folks, who if you can get 25% billable time from — that’s great. The [...]

How do you get your agency employees to do their time sheets?

What do you do about late (or non-existent) time sheets? Did I hear an echo? It seems that this question is asked again and again, year after year.  The only modification in the conversation is whether or not you should do time sheets at all.  (Watch for that discussion later this week.) The attitude of agency management (you) towards the problem is the solution, or non-solution. If you set and enforce a policy of completing time sheets on time, the question is moot. If you tolerate tardy time sheets, that's what you get. Your attitude is reflected by your employees. It boils down to rewarding the behavior you want. Remember, the greatest management principal? If your agency has the tardy-time-sheet illness, it is because you've rewarded the tardy time-keepers by not making a stink about it. I tend to run a relatively easy going shop. But many years ago, I realized I had to take a stand on time sheets if we were going to be able to accurately track our work, our profitability and our workload. I had a choice -- the carrot or the stick. Most bosses would go for the carrot like JWT Casa did.  They created a direct correlation between filling out and getting something you desperately need at the end of the workweek: a fridge full of beer. Guess what? Everyone filled out their time sheets. On time. Suddenly, time sheets weren't a problem anymore. I went the way of the stick. I told my employees that I would fine anyone who did not complete their time sheet before they left the office for the day. I'm not sure they believed me. It was an unusually strict response from me. Until about [...]

Salary increases should be tied to profitability not longevity

Nope. An annual salary increase should be tied to profitability not the calendar. We don't recommend automatic annual salary increases. What we do wholeheartedly recommend is a salary plan that is fair and rewarding to all employees that inspires them to go above and beyond for the agency and its clients. You don't reward someone with an annual salary increase just for being on staff or holding down their position for another year. You reward them for their contributions and their added value.  Unfortunately, many employees feel entitled to a salary increase every year, and are very vocal when they don't get one. Somehow, salary has become an entitlement program. "The longer I stay, the more I should be paid." Sorry, I don't buy it. My concept of a good salary/compensation plan for advertising agencies  includes four basic elements: Profitability of the agency The responsibilities of the person's job and their contributions to the profitability Did they get better at their craft (are they adding new value) How long have they been a part of the team It boils down to rewarding the results you want. Profitability has to come first. You can't increase salaries if you aren't making a profit. The first responsibility of every employee should be to help the agency make a profit. I believe it is the agency's responsibility to keep employees even with the cost of living, and that employees should receive a piece of the profits the agency earns. The agency made the profit because of the combined efforts of the staff. Responsibilities vary with the position and with the person. It's obvious that a senior art director will make more than a graphic designer. The responsibilities are different. If [...]