Why the Average Barista Gets More Training Than Most Agency Staffers

How’s this for a java-like jolt: A Starbucks barista gets more training than an ad agency staffer. That bit of startling news comes courtesy of Arnold’s new report on talent management, which gave the ad industry a failing grade.

But perhaps this isn’t that surprising given how little agencies—and their holding companies—invest in training, especially compared to other talent-driven companies including McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, Google and Procter & Gamble. Arnold used such companies as benchmarks for its “Transforming Talent Management” survey, which Arnold CEO Andrew Benett unveiled at this month’s 4A’s conference.

Benett described the industry’s talent retention and development problem in hourglass terms: some training at the bottom levels, very little in the middle and more at the top. That partly explains why almost a third of the 3,000 people that Arnold surveyed plan to leave their current agencies in 12 months.

In short, the survey found that agencies lose employees because they see little career pathing, feel they’re learning on the job and find new employers that invest more in training. Subsequent mea culpas by holding company CEOs, and their acknowledgement of the talent erosion problem aside, Adweek did a little more digging to better understand that Starbucks-agency divide.