The ad tech industry has a bad case of automation fever, talking as if staff members are less critical to an agency’s bottom line. Or as Michael Farmer, CEO of Farmer & Company, put it, the advertising industry “has become a grim sweatshop for the people who do the work.”
Don’t get me wrong — automation is important. But some companies have gotten so caught up in the frenzy that they’ve lost sight of a core truth: People aren’t data conduits, and their happiness is essential to a thriving business.
People build client relationships, analyze the effective use of data, provide sophisticated solutions for clients’ goals, and more. It’s not enough to have the latest analytics systems. No computer program can educate clients on new innovations, nor can it come up with original, refreshing creative that engages customers.
If your team members sense that your company cares more about tech than them, they’ll walk. Millennials, in particular, want to work for companies that value employees.
Gen Yers bring vivacity, hunger, and enthusiasm into the workforce. Statistics show that members of this demographic don’t view their jobs as lifetime commitments. Two out of three Millennials intend to move on from their current positions by 2020, and 44 percent plan to do so within the next two years.
That’s a problem for agencies, considering that companies with engaged employees enjoy 147 percent higher earnings than their competition. Businesses lose $11 billion a year because of employee turnover, and that number will rise as more young people job-hop within the workforce.
So what can your agency do to attract and retain Millennial talent? Develop a culture so good that people won’t ever want to leave. Here are principles you can apply:
Encourage communication among different departments, and include junior staff in important conversations. Be transparent about company initiatives and financial well-being. This creates a feeling of ownership, which is essential when cultivating longevity.
People don’t want to have to put on their “work face” when they walk through your doors. Agencies need to allow their teammates to become emotionally connected with one another to churn out better results.
After all, among highly engaged Millennial employees, 27 percent are “more likely to report ‘excellent’ performance,” and 59 percent are less likely to seek other jobs within the next 12 months. Let employees run with their best suggestions, and trust them to spearhead projects early on.
Celebrate people’s wins. A setting in which all team members can appraise their colleagues’ work allows people to feel like they’re part of an enterprise greater than the sum of its parts.
Companies that regularly size up the quality of their output, single out top performers, and try to build learning experiences turn out superior results. No matter how large your organization is, a sense of community is paramount.
Young professionals seek companies that stand for something and offer mentorship and growth. If your team members don’t possess a sense of community and a belief that they’re all working toward a shared goal, you’re going to rush into dicey situations in which people feel adrift and isolated.
The task begins by demonstrating to your team members that you see them as valued participants in your mission, not warm bodies in office seats. Share your company’s story — why you founded the organization and your vision for how your brand influences your community. Millennials aren’t just looking for paychecks; they want to work for inspirational leaders.
Millennials are adopting a work-life blend, so be open to remote or flexible work arrangements. Allowing people to work when and how they want (and giving them the tech capabilities to do so) signifies trust and can drive workers to live up to your expectations.
Keep an open mind about communication methods as well. Millennials favor texting, messaging apps, and email over phone calls and in-person meetings. Face-to-face interactions are important for building rapport, but be willing to adapt to new interoffice communication styles.
Millennials represent the future workforce, so build a company that makes them want to stay. Automation and tech advances are important, but they’re not vital in the same way people are.