Much has been said about the challenges of attracting and retaining great people in our industry. In fact, it is hard to avoid tweets, posts, speeches and presentations about the ‘war for talent’—a phrase which has been bandied about for decades. Most often they are accompanied by a pall of gloom and doom telling us about how we are getting it all wrong.
But are we overthinking the problem—if it can be defined as a problem in the first place?
In all my experience dealing with potential candidates, particularly with young people at industry initiatives such as MediaWorks, one thing has been clear—the breed of talent emerging in the industry today is vastly different from the past.
Today’s candidates are more curious, open to opportunities, knowledgeable, passionate and confident. They lack preconceived notions, don’t shy away from hard work and are not afraid of failure. They recognise that the world is their oyster and have the ability to make what they want out of it, driven by a huge appetite to learn and contribute.
Now that is a powerful value proposition. But is our industry missing out on capitalising on it?
We get paid for brave thinking that will help clients stand out in the world. We pride ourselves on dreaming up the boldest, most effective campaigns that will connect brands with their consumers; we invest time, energy and resources to ensure that we are a trusted partner to our clients and not treated as a media supplier.
But we are not making enough bold moves to change how we empower our talent.
Too often in our industry, innovation is defined through the lens of technology. But this is a people business, and innovation should also be about how we as leaders enable our people to be the best.
We need to move away from myopically measuring a candidate’s potential by looking for a relevant degree or work experience and move towards giving them the best experience of their lives. The best way to do that is to provide a plethora of opportunities, so they can acquire a diverse set of skills in order to be creative and develop fresh thinking without the fear of failing.
We need to tear up old job descriptions and recruitment criteria and create new ones centring around bravery and change, to engage with a new generation of talent. We need to seek talent in non-traditional places, be more transparent and stop compartmentalising talent into functional groups.
Hiring great talent is one thing—keeping them engaged is another. Beyond pool tables, nap pods and yoga classes, it is our values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes and behaviours that lead to engaged employees and heightened performance.
These are truly exciting times for the industry. Let’s celebrate the diversity of skills and mindset the latest generation of talent offers us.
Torie Henderson is CEO of Omnicom Media Group Southeast Asia and India.