High HR churn rate has been a key concern for the advertising industry for quite some time now. The second session of the exchange4media.com Conclave in New Delhi quite appropriately focused on 'Human resource-Why is our industry not able to attract and retain good talent?'
The session, moderated by Prof. Atul Tandan, Director, Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA), saw eminent speakers Arvind Sharma, Chairman & CEO, Leo Burnett, P V Narayanamoorthy, Regional Director-Strategic Resources, Carat Media Services Asia Pacific Ltd, Kalpana Rao, Talent Director, O&M, Ronesh Puri, MD, Executive Access India, and Santosh Desai, President, McCann Erickson, make significant observations on the issue.
Kickstarting the session, Prof. Tandan said according to a recent survey the top 20 companies in the country will fragment into around 100 new firms in the coming years and by 2025, 65 per cent of the present jobs will exist outside the corporations. A high number of jobs will be handled by freelancers then. In all, a new age will dawn which will see a large number of young professionals setting up their own independent ventures. All these will culminate into high unrest among the professionals leading to a high churn rate, he said.
Reacting to Tandan’s opening remarks, Sharma said as far as the advertising industry is concerned there is undoubtedly a high churn but this is primarily due to the rising number of career opportunities that are being made available to the youth.
The industry at present does not need just an MBA but vibrant advertising professionals. The dogged feeling that in order to run an industry successfully MBAs act as a backbone needs to be cast away, he said.
The agencies have come of age in recognising true professionals and degrees in this case do not make any difference. The grave problem of retaining and attracting talent needs to be looked at objectively by the industry, Sharma said.
Taking the discussion further, Desai admitted that there were some serious flaws with the advertising industry as far as recruiting and retaining talent is concerned. He emphasised that there was a dire need to train and nurture talent and skills that are scalable to global needs.
He supported Sharma's viewpoint by saying that degrees and qualifications don’t benchmark professional abilities to tackle assignments.
Kalpana Rao, Talent Director, O&M, was straight face about employee retention and attraction problems facing the industry. She pointed out that the present generation is highly focused on monetary gains rather than gathering knowledge and experience. The youngsters don’t have a fair idea about their career goals and join the bandwagon in opting for a job, she said.
Rao said time has come for the advertising industry to hardsell the career options available in the industry to students at centers of excellence and thereby attract the best minds.
Narayanamoorthy gripped the audience with his presentation on the topic. "It is an entropy, how the agency recruits or nurtures talent. There is no well-defined guidelines or annual policies. The way advertising agencies function is different from the other existing organisations. There are certain factors that have to be dwelled upon to make this more systematic and disciplined in selection and dissemination of talent," he said.
He pointed out that money, secure future, independent environment, and feeling important are factors that contribute towards job attraction. All these need to be considered seriously by the agencies before recruiting youngsters, he said.
Presenting an outsider view, Ronesh Puri, MD, Executive Access India, accused the industry of being selfish and complacent in not keeping up with the corporate HR norms. "I have not come across one agency that follows rules or are examples of retaining or attracting talent. Not one step is being taken in this direction. It's just a matter of grave concern and effective measures have to be taken to make it a more sought after and secure industry," said Puri.
The speakers agreed that the HR crisis is looming large and that the agencies at some stage would have to think in terms of institutionalising talent search.