Attrition prompts ad agencies to turn focus to talent retention

Written by Lalitha Srinivasan | Mumbai | Updated: Oct 29 2012, 06:38am hrs
In a bid to attract and retain talent, Indian advertising agencies are beefing up their human resources modules with development programmes and higher compensation packages.

One of the biggest challenges that Indian advertising business faces today is the high rate of attrition. RK Swamy BBDO plans to incentivise its employees by providing them a stake in terms of profit-sharing and long-term benefits. This plan should be in place shortly. In a talent-based service industry, cost of talent is constantly on the increase. We strive to keep our rates remunerative, said Srinivasan Swamy, CMD of RK Swamy BBDO.

The R26,000-crore Indian advertising industry has witnessed a lot of churn at bothsenior and junior levels in the last two years. Rohit Ohri, partner, JWT India, left the agency to become CEO of Dentsu India. While Bobby Pawar exited Mudra Group to become chief creative officer at JWT, Tarun Singh Chauhan left Lowe Lintas to join JWT India.

In the media buying and planning space, Punitha Arumugam, CEO of Madison Media, left Madison to join Google last year. Very recently, CVL Srinivas, chairman of Starcom Media Vest Group, India, quit the agency to become CEO of GroupM South Asia.

Ad major Draftfcb Ulka is handling the issue by growing its own talent through Star One Trainee Programme, at entry level.

Further, we keep this talent well trained by putting them through programmes like the Leadership Grid WorkShop, BrandWealth Seminar, Organisational Health Survey, empowerment programmes and annual performance reviews, said M Parameswaran, CEO & ED, Draftfcb Ulka.

Group M India, part of the WPP Group, is attracting talent on the back of offering exciting and diverse range of marketing plan creation and execution opportunities, said Vikram Sakhuja, who is getting ready to take charge of Maxus Worldwide, another Group M company.

We retain talent by coming good on our promise that is investing in the development of a professional. Additionally, they see a meritocratic organisation where individual performance and rewards are linearly linked.

According to Sakhuja, attrition at the top and middle levels is low but retention is a challenge mainly at junior levels. With our HR orientation and culture we manage to retain talent, he added.

The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), the apex body of the industry is now looking at major initiatives for attracting talent into the industry, said Arvind Sharma, president of AAAI.

For retention of talent, a significant factor is compensation. With the help of senior and experienced marketers and management consultants, we will look for ways to address this challenge, said Sharma.

Whether it is cricket or advertising, some of the best talent in the country today is coming from small towns, points out Sharma. In the coming months, we will come up with a platform to make the advertising industry a top-of-mind choice for this talent and make it easier for them to access the industry.

Leo Burnett India empowers young people and give them freedom to fly, said CV Sridhar, national creative director, Leo Burnett. We have a flat transparent business structure to let young people grow. We provide stable leadership at the top to retain the youth.