Study Reveals The Obvious: People Leave Agency Jobs Because Of Low Pay, Bad Work/Life Balance, Lack Of Strategic Vision

We've known for decades that the ad agency business is a love it or hate it gambit. Some people love it and cherish its craziness. Others can't stand the insanity and bail at the first opportunity. 

A study conducted in partnership between the 4A's and LinkedIn was unveiled at Tuesday's 4A's Transformation Conference following a panel entitled "The Truth About Talent," which gave a little bit of numeric insight into what all of us already know about working in an ad agency. 

So what did the study reveal? The top reasons professionals leave the agency world are related to concern over the lack of opportunities for advancement and wanting more challenging work. Dissatisfaction with compensation and benefits came fifth.

In addition, the study found the agency world needs to work on perception. When compared to eight competitive industries, the perceptions of the marketing and advertising industry from potential employees came in last in the categories of "good work/life balance" and "long-term strategic vision." The industry also came in second to last in the categories of "excellent compensation and benefits," "strong career path," "job security" and "values employee contributions."

Of the findings, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Global Director of Agency Holding Companies (now that's a job title) Jann Schwarz said: "In order to attract and retain the best talent, agencies must begin addressing these issues through building their talent brand. Talent brand is what we call the public and social face that reflects what professionals think, feel, and share about the company as a place to work. The research shows that professionals in the advertising industry are looking for more than just money to keep them at a company. The solution to filling this gap is for agencies to focus on telling the story of their culture and purpose, showcasing their talent brand in a compelling way that offers sustainable differentiation."

Which, of course, is code for telling agencies they need to spend boatloads of money on LinkedIn properly positioning and pimping themselves to prospective employees. But that's a topic for another discussion. 

Of the changing face of those looking to work in ad agencies, 4A's CEO Nancy Hill added: "Today's advertising industry talent is so different than the talent of generations past. These entry-level professionals crave experiences, connection with their work and, of course, fair compensation. This data helps us identify where we can improve, whether it's providing a better work/life balance, or ensuring junior talent can see their career trajectory at a certain agency. We need to up our game in terms of what we're offering employees to incentivize them to continue to grow in the industry."

Or Martin Sorrell could just cut his compensation in half and offer a 20% raise to every single WPP employee. Or agencies could stop acting like they're a fraternity house where bros fist bump each other while drooling over female co-workers. Or CEOs of major ad agencies could stop making rape jokes. You know, small changes like that.

The study's findings were derived from LinkedIn's proprietary platform data, along with two of LinkedIn's annual talent-focused surveys -- Job Switchers and Talent Drivers -- both of which, according to LinkedIn, are the largest professional global studies of their kind.  

You can check out the full study here.

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