All of us in the agency business spend a lot of time thinking about talent. Who’s got it, who’s lost it, who never had it. One thing everyone can agree on is that is increasingly more difficult to keep hold of it once you have got it.
An agency is the definition of a people business, so its no surprise that we spend an inordinate amount of our time thinking about how to motivate, cajole and inspire all of our team to strive for their best and ideally do their best with us.
Its particularly tough at this time of year as contracts come up for renewal, promised bonuses fail to materialise and individuals thoughts turn to greener grass over the fence. The recent flurry of headlines around big name defections is testament to this desire to seek out a better home.
So that got me thinking if this continual process of defections is inevitable, maybe we could have a bit more fun with it along the way. As an industry that prides itself on innovation, why not try to spice up the process of hiring and firing to create a bit more of a spectacle in its own right?
Being something of a football fan, it occurred to me that perhaps an annual transfer deadline might be a fun idea to try out?
Imagine the flurry of activity as the clock counts down to 6pm on the last Monday of January; the frantic calls as creative teams are fawned over with promises of matching DB9’s, timeshares in vineyards are bandied around to attract the hot new planning talent, the anguish as Chief Executives are squeezed by rapacious headhunters for an extra £50k for that break through new digital guy.
It would certainly force agencies to pay a bit more attention to their staff through the year, Jacuzzis in reception anyone? Perhaps being locked into an employment contract for two, three of four years might prove to be a little harsh, but think of the transfer fees - headhunters would love it!
Okay, perhaps on paper it’s a bit of daft idea (well maybe not anymore daft than TUPE transfers), but if nothing else at least it would make for a nice big feature each year in Campaign.
Whatever ways we use to keep hold of our brightest and best, ensuring that catalytic mix of culture, environment and creative work are all in place is going to become ever more important.
The one thing we’re all looking for is the opportunity to make that defining breakthrough, to leave our mark, to work out how all this creative stuff is going to fit together in the future. If you can provide that, you’ve got it made.
On second thoughts, perhaps an American Football style draft could work…
(This post originally appeared in Campaign Magazine)