It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a large suburban market or a small rural one. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a big shop, a small shop, a specialty shop, or a digital shop. Agencies across the country are struggling to find, recruit, hire, and retain great employees. It just one big recruitment game and do you know how to play it well?

Even as marketing, advertising, and promotional managerial positions are expected to increase by 10 percent through 2024, agencies struggle because everyone — not just agencies — is trying to attract the same employees. Everyone in business is looking for people who are digitally savvy, who understand content, and who can sell.

One would think that with employment rates for marketing, advertising, promotions, public relations, and sales managers rising faster than the national average for all occupations, talent wouldn’t be hard to come by. However, agencies traditionally can’t compete with large corporations that pay more, have better benefits, and allot larger budgets to their marketing departments.

But there’s one card agencies hold that corporations don’t: culture.

There’s an atmosphere — created when an agency brings together a group of like-minded creatives and leaders — that automatically attracts the most talented individuals. It’s addictive. Employees won’t want to leave, and recruits actively seek out those environments.

While corporations can implement culture initiatives, agencies automatically have an upper hand when it comes to creating cultures that marketing and advertising professionals will love.

However, there are additional steps agencies can take to truly seal the deal when it’s recruitment time and also when it comes to retaining talent.

Give them an opportunity to move up. Both employees and recruits recognize that, at an agency, the advancement and professional development opportunities are significantly better than at a corporation; with an estimated 54% of Millennial recruits putting advancement opportunities ahead of salary, this works in an agency’s favor.

They’re so concerned with professional growth because they realize without it, their careers will grow stagnant. Fifty-two percent of Millennials would rather work for an employer that offers opportunities for career progression than work for one that offers financial incentives or better training and development programs.

Invest in their growth. Talented individuals also realize that what they’ve learned up to this point in their careers will only get them so far. They value programs that let them continue to grow and challenge their abilities. It’s why 67 percent more Millennials than Baby Boomers prioritize mentorship programs when deciding between competing companies.

They see these programs and other professional development efforts by agency leadership as an investment in their professional growth. It shows them an agency wants them for not only their current abilities, but also for their future potential.

Give them flexibility. One of the most difficult parts of the marketing industry is the pressure to be creative on demand; it’s taxing. How agencies treat creatives is a huge factor in the response rate of recruits. Eighty-five percent of new professionals and soon-to-be graduates heavily consider how an employer treats its team when determining where they want to invest their skills.

Give flexibility to creative teams, and give them the freedom to be the best. Allow them to work free of distractions in the way that’s most conducive for them. That can mean letting employees come in a little later or leave a little early to accommodate their children’s schedules, or it could mean planning team outings to break away from the day-in, day-out stress of constantly having to be “on.” When your employees are happy, they’re less likely to leave.

The reality is that employees are changing the way we work. If agencies have any hope of attracting, hiring, and retaining the most talented individuals before corporations do, they’ll have to give those individuals a reason. What these recruits are looking for isn’t difficult to implement, nor is it that expensive. All it takes is a simple shift in thought.

This article was originally published on MediaPost.