How can you hook the best talent for your in-house offering
Chris Shadrick
Interim Managing Director

No one likes recruiting. But EVERYONE is staffing up.

Absolutely everyone I speak to now, whether it be clients, friends at other agencies, people we are trying to employ, dog walkers in the park or the owner of the local sandwich shop, everyone is looking for talent. But hardly anyone can find it.

And usually if you are trying to hire for in-house roles, these problems are exacerbated to the nth degree.

We’ve all read enough about in-housing now to know that as well as the copious positives, there are also a few pretty tough negative elements to contend with, especially when it comes to hiring and retaining staff.

Firstly, following the loss of so many people from the industry during Covid (many of whom were forced to find other careers elsewhere, and now simply don’t want to come back) the talent pool has been greatly diminished. And of those that are left, they have reassessed their value, their values and, more importantly, how they should be valued by their employers. We actually wrote an article about hiring after the apocalypse last year, and all of it remains as true today as it did then.

Secondly, once (sorry, if) you do find that talent, there is a massive amount of churn to contend with. It’s no secret creatives often move to in-house roles to test the waters, but get cold feet when they realise it’s not the same as agency life, soon jumping back out again to the familiar warmth of agency life. Boredom can also easily set in when you’ve been used to working on multiple clients in the fast-paced creatively exciting agency bubble, and suddenly you’re only working on one bit of business in the same office. Plus, there can be dissatisfaction that many in-house projects can be very executional.

However, what we found was the most important factor when researching the launch of our own in-house offering, Content Studio, was that most in-house staff left because of a palpable lack of excitement, motivation and inspiration that you only get from being plugged into the utterly unique energy of the creative universe, that can only arguably be driven from a creative agency. Something that is very difficult to replicate from the outside.

But our research also showed us that you don’t actually need to recreate that energy, excitement and vigour within your own business, not when you can have all of that on tap within an agency set up.

So, when creating your in-house team, consider housing them not in your own office, but within that of a creative agency.

Proximity breeds understanding, creative curiosity breeds innovative content. It’s your creative, but it’s driven by dedicated in-depth knowledge and super-powered by creatively charged and challenged teams. Add to that senior agency creative oversight, and you get more learning by osmosis and greater job satisfaction.

But hey, how does that help with the recruitment side of things, you might ask. And rightly so. But if you let the agency also handle recruiting those employees, using their reputation and their reach into their talent pools, you have a much better chance of hooking a good one.

By combining these two elements, you not only get a much longer line to cast out, but also much tastier bait to tempt them in.

And on top of that, the agency can handle all of the HR and training once that talent is in the net. This means career and learning paths are clear due to the agency structure and specialist knowledge within it.

Obviously, this approach leaves some questions about payment and contracts, but consider using a Salary+ model, which allows for a simple and effective remuneration solution.

The only other real watch out is ensuring you get the exact team you want and, more importantly, need for the business and that they are then fully focussed on your objectives and correctly understand the task before them.

We would suggest putting in place a very rigid and thorough process to ensure that all of this happens smoothly but with a long-term plan. Maybe consider:

– A Capability Workshop to understand and agree the key tasks that are required for the next 3 years and then to identify the capabilities and roles needed.

– A Process Workshop to agree the most effective in-housing process to work to and how this will be communicated to the broader stakeholders.

– Adoption of the correct marketing technology and agency appraisal tools to continually improve the content created.

This is what we offer with Content Studio. We create and train the team without creating more cost. We then invest in those teams, so they can invest in the client business. We Beta tested this with Avis Budget Group, not only saving them around 50% on agency fees, but also hiring and retaining staff who are creating amazing work across multiple territories.