Seraphina Wong
Sep 5, 2017

For ROT’s sake

To stem the tide of honest, passionate talent walking away, companies need to measure 'ROT' (return on talent) as well as ROI, writes Seraphina Wong.

Seraphina Wong
Seraphina Wong

Here’s snapshot of the industry.

Digital is at the core of business. Structural optimisation is continuing. Marketers, media and agencies are expected to raise performance and grow business with reduced resources.

New titles have popped up, many related to digital: experience labs, content studios, and brand journalists. Does anyone really understand these roles and their respective accountabilities?

Talent retention is an over-discussed and under-served reality. 

The plus side is that the CMO, CDO, and COO collaborate. Still, their digital scope of work somewhat overlaps. Resolving this confusion will result in improved collaboration. 

There is a line of sponsorship, advertising, PR and event specialists who want to move away from job titles tied to cost centres and adopt titles related to digital and business. But not everyone is responding well to digital transformation. The clever ones have reincarnated as marketing experts. Very few will have the right experience, but they will learn fast. The fun will be short-lived though, as marketers will all have to justify the ROI.

Amongst agencies, those scrambling for extra “digital” and “content” work, a blurred area, compete against each other even within the network. 

In a budget-constrained environment, “global” is centrally controlling the bulk of budget and decisions. “HQ” persons who know a little Mandarin, or who were born in Malaysia decades ago, are now emerging as China experts. In Asia, non-native people are keenly collaborating with “global” to capture China, or to hold onto their jobs. 

In the waves of structural changes, many honest, passionate talents are walking away. Why? Could it be that frustrations are just too high, being under-resourced to maximise growth opportunities? Whatever the reason, it is unrelated to glass ceilings or corporate politics. In a season of change, there is always someone wishing to explore new horizons.

Talent retention is an over-discussed and under-served reality. Are companies commercially aware of its full implications? With every valuable talent who leaves, companies lose brand experience, business knowledge and consumer insights. As the industry continues to experience structural changes, resources are becoming compressed and ROI needs justification; it will be increasingly challenging for anyone to “have fun”. 

Still, the loss of talent may not be a complete loss for employers. It is time to pay more attention to the return on talents (ROT). Look at talent retention and at improving your company’s ROT as a growth opportunity. We are in the people industry. Motivating your strategic leadership will help you stay ahead of the game.

Longtime APAC marketer Seraphina Wong was most recently with UBS, which she departed on "very friendly" terms. She hasn't decided on her next move but is exploring helping non-profit organisations, companies that prioritise philanthropy, and community services.

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