Ad agencies beef up initiatives to retain talent, tackle high attrition

Written by Lalitha Srinivasan | Mumbai | Updated: Oct 28 2014, 21:32pm hrs
In a bid to attract and retain talent, Indian advertising agencies are beefing up their talent management strategy with initiatives such as employee empowerment plans, peer group recognition, modern training and development modules and setting up of youth executive committees.

One of the major challenges that Indian advertising business faces today is the high rate of attrition. To deal with this issue, ad agencies such as Lowe Lintas & Partners India, Group M India(part of WPP Group), Draftfcb Ulka and RK Swamy BBDO are sharpening focus on their talent retention modules.

To start with, GroupM India has introduced GroupM Stars Programme, a peer group recognition initiative to motivate its employees. Gaurav Hirey, our head of talent sits on the GroupM South Asia Executive Committee so we ensure that our talent management strategy is in line with our business goal,said CVL Srinivas, CEO, GroupM South Asia.

GroupM India has recently set up a Youth Executive Committee to compliment the operations of its senior executive committee. This has helped us cut through the hierarchy and get rich insights on talent management from our young stars. Our youth committee helps the agencys senior committee stay tuned to ground realities, explained Srinivas.

The agencys retention strategy includes, training and development programme, staff welfare measures, regular staff feedback and a clearly defined system for staff appraisals.

The R31,877 crore Indian ad industry ( 2013) is expected to post a 16.8 %growth in 2014, according to Madison Pitch report.

According to Joseph George, CEO of Lowe Lintas & Partners, the agency is leveraging its size and width of client portfolio to ensure rotation. This strategy keeps talent refreshed and it also helps our clients to get fresh perspectives regularly, he added.

The agency is planning to initiate the second season of its Lowe Lintas Apprenticeship Programme to attract and retain talent.

The first part has been a successful venture for us wherein we met over 3,000 candidates from non metros and cities and chose 24 of them and put them through an 18-month long training calendar. We are now going ahead with the second part of this now, he explained.

Industry analysts point out that Indian advertising business has now become very competitive with the introduction of so many awards shows. Professionals who win awards become hot properties overnight and other agencies try to woo them with higher salary and perks. So, ad agencies are now scripting fresh initiatives to retain talent, said an industry analyst based in Mumbai.

Srinivasan K Swamy, managing director & CEO of RK Swamy BBDO, strongly believes that talent retention is a process of building an ecosystem where employees are able to give their best, without fear or favour.

Its actually a culture you build in the company where every employee is happy, secure and comfortable. We offer opportunities so that our employees can grow professionally, he added.

Meanwhile, Draftfcb Ulka is creating mini agencies within the agency, where the business and creative leaders are empowered to lead their businesses. Empowerment is one of the strongest retention tools. Besides this we have formal feedback mechanisms that help us hear the voice of our people and address their issues regularly, said Nitin Karkare, COO of Draftfcb Ulka.

Sam Balsara, chairman of Madison World, said that an ad agency should primarily offer a good working atmosphere to ensure talent retention.

What is important for agency employees is a good working atmosphere and good large respected and reputed clients. That ensures retention more than any schemes, Balsara added.