Why Agencies Should Spend More Time and Effort Retaining Their Strategy People

Survey says 28% plan to move jobs within a year

The ad industry is losing more talent than it's gaining, according to a LinkedIn study—"The Truth About Strategy Talent"—done in partnership with the 4A's. In 2015, the ad industry experienced a 25 percent net loss of global talent to competing industries, but one area where agencies need to focus a bit more time is the strategy department. According to LinkedIn's data, strategic planners are 30 percent less likely to be satisfied with their current positions.

Of those polled for the study, 28 percent said they don't see themselves working in their current positions within the next year and 40 percent are more likely than global talent to leave their positin in the next six months. Additionally, 92 percent said they would be interested in learning about a new job opportunity, while 43 percent are more likely to respond to messages from recruiters about new opportunities, compared to the average agency person.

"I think first and foremost that because planners tend to be very curious individuals, the fact that they are so much more likely to respond to a recruiter is not surprising but interesting because I think because they are curious by nature they are more likely to be open to talking to anybody about anything," Nancy Hill, president of the 4A's, said.

In comparison to agency talent, strategy people are more likely to look for new job opportunities when they are overlooked for a promotion or when they feel they aren't challenged enough at their current job.

"We have to stop looking at strategy people like all they are there to do is inform the brief. They can have so much more of an impact on the clients' business," argued 4A's president Nancy Hill.

Added Jann Schwarz, global director of agency and channel development, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions: "The research suggests that, in addition to salary, lack of challenging work and overlooked promotions are key blockers to retaining strategy professionals. Agencies must better align with the underlying factors that motivate employees to stay and make adjustments accordingly." Schwarz noted that these factors are easily addressable, agencies simply need to take the time to address them.

The good news is that, according to the data, strategy people don't necessarily want to leave the industry altogether. Compared to other agency talent, strategy talent is 35 percent more likely to look for promotions within the current company. Rather than switching industries, strategy people tend to look at competitive agencies for promotions.

LinkedIn collected data for the study through a number of global professional studies including its "Job Switchers" survey and "Talent Trends" survey, as well as LinkedIn data on member behavior as of February 2016. This particular survey marks the first time LinkedIn has done a deep dive into strategy professionals in the advertising industry, and compares those individuals against the rest of the ad business and other industries.