This is a tough time to be an agency on a growth path. Ironically, not because the clients aren’t out there and ready to spend money.   Agencies are reporting better biz dev opportunities than I’ve seen in awhile.  But those same agencies are saying to me, “Drew, I can’t go after it.  I just don’t have the people to service it if we win it.”

That’s painful. But if you’re struggling to field a full roster, know you’re not alone.  In the last 18 months, many agencies are experiencing turnover like they have never seen before.  Some of our agencies are weathering a staggering 35%+ turnover rate.  I don’t care if you are 5 people or 555 people — that hurts.  

Your people are being poached left and right. Or they’re coming to you with ridiculously high salary demands to stay.  How are agencies combatting this trend (which I hate to tell you, shows no signs of easing up until the economic correction hits)?

Invest your time in your best people:  One thing I hear over and over again in the AE bootcamps or some of the speciality summits (AMI member benefit only) when I hang out with agency employees is how much they crave your time and attention.  They want to learn from you. They want you to invest in them, and they want you to help them grow.

Use salary surveys specific to our industry to level set expectations: Whether it’s ours, (broken up into both size and geography categories) Creative Group’s (remember they are a recruiting firm so theirs is going to be high to their own benefit). Second Wind’s (2018 looks like their most current) or 4A’s (have to be a member to access and 2018 is most current) — know what’s going on out there.

Be smart about the benefits package and work environment: It’s not just about healthcare anymore. Flextime, work from home, sabbaticals, dog friendly workplaces and so much more.  But far deeper than that — core values that you all share, live and celebrate, a vision that everyone can see and wants to be a part of and an inspirational leader — that’s why people stay.

Help them get better: Your people are hungry to grow, learn more and add more value.  The #1 reason they choose a specific  job or leave your agency to go to another  is lack of educational opportunities (according to our 2016 Agency Edge Research study)

There are certainly other things you need to do to keep your team intact, happy and ready to take on more work — but these will get you started.  How else are you combatting the turnover issue?


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