Talent born since the 1990s: it seems to be the great mystery of our times. How can our workplaces appeal to them? How can we make sure they stay with us for long? How can we unleash their fullest potential?
There is no magic formula, but it’s not much of a mystery either. It’s all down to one small but meaningful word — respect. And if, as an industry, we are honest with ourselves, respect is the one thing we aren’t giving young talent.
We pitch the advertising and communications as one of the most exciting industries to be a part of, and one where their personalities can find expression. We know that our entry-level salaries offered are not the reason people are joining us. “Come and be a part of great work! Build a long-lasting career that allows you to be you!”
Yet when they join, they get the jobs no one wants to do: running competitive data models, chasing purchase orders, working long hours to complete artwork because no one bothered to show them the hacks they learnt on their way up.
And then, it comes as a surprise when these people, whose potential is still untapped, walk out when someone offers them twice the money. Where did we go wrong? We did not really respect our own promises of what their jobs would be.
We never took the time to listen to these young people’s issues, hear their ideas out, or understand what we could have done differently. So let’s change that, and start respecting the voices of the future.
Let’s give some of our youngest, brightest and most curious talent an opportunity to define what that new agency of the future looks like.
So as an industry, while we may fight to win clients, let’s unite on this one key issue and do three things together:
- Break down the job descriptions of entry-level roles. Just because you joined the tactical TV media planning team does not mean that you don’t ever get to create an ecommerce campaign. It does not mean your only career future is the head of the media investment team. Let’s give our young talent role-swapping opportunities across the spectrum of our businesses to allow them to find the role they were meant to play.
- Elevate every glimmer of innovation and fresh thinking they bring to the table. If it’s a new way to do a report, or a new type of service that the agency can provide, find ways to support them. Those ideas are built on their passions and beliefs. Support them with time and attention (and not just money).
- Make the time to listen to what they think is broken or needs fixing — even demolishing. We might not fix it all but there just isn’t any excuse not to listen. None. If we can’t even respect them enough to listen, then let’s stop talking about how important the post-90s generation talent is.
Amrita Randhawa is CEO, Mindshare, Greater China, and was named in 2013’s 40 Under 40