Following a recent report indicating a definitive preference in the communications industry to move into in-house roles, a new study has uncovered the reasons why agency talents are migrating to the client side in the marketing world. Analysts from marketing and communications recruitment firm Grace Blue said in the Migration Report Asia Pacific 2019 that it is in agencies' best interest to nip it in the bud.
Out of 319 senior marketers in Australia, China and Singapore surveyed by Grace Blue, 26% come with agency background. According to the report, several senior marketers with agency experience have joined brands such as Apple, Coca-cola, Netflix, and Vans. Respondents from Singapore take up some 30% of the sample. In Singapore, transport and travel, media and telecommunications, and technology are the top three industries that hire senior marketers with agency background.
Grace Blue director Sonia Voirol said that marketers increasingly presented with alternative places to work as brands exert more control over their own narratives, creating departments and roles dedicated to creative practice. Another driving force behind talent migration from agencies is socio-cultural issues concerning employment.
"Talents who are concerned about career prospects and fulfilling financial commitments will likely prefer to continue their career with a well-known brand, if given the option, as the impression still prevails that agencies 'borrow staff' for their clients and once an account disappears, so do the jobs," explained Voirol.
Besides offering better work-life balance, Grace Blue APAC CEO Jean-Michel Wu added that client side are now also perceived to have more stability due to ongoing upheaval in the ecosystem. With hiring budgets shrinking on the agencies side, clients are comparably more ready to invest in finding the right talent and hire larger numbers of people. Wu said that this in turn, offers the promise of bigger teams, more resource and the ability to be more focused on the job.
Loss of key talent invariably leads to a weaker organisation in any business, having temporary or long-term negative impact, not just on morale but also on revenue.
To attract and retain talents, agency leads have to send the right message and take proactive actions. Grace Blue partner Helen Duffy said, "We look for red flags in the form of lost accounts and a shrinking workforce, and the immediate assumption is that agency leadership is weak. There’s a sense that a storm is coming, and the crew is jumping ship before the boat starts to sink."
Broadly, Duffy identified six key talent strategies: obtain support form the top to invest in talent, develop preventive measures, frame recruitment brand around company's advantages, hire and position leaders as beacons for others, strengthen the core team to support new hires, and managing attrition positively.
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