Article - Does The Old “Keep Your Team Happy” Mantra Still Apply?

articles people and culture Apr 01, 2022

READ: 1 min
AUTHOR: Robert Craven

I came across this post on Linked In and it made me cringe. No disrespect to the author but it just felt wrong.

‘Employees give their best when they are treated with respect, encouraged to use their voice, mentored well, given the opportunity to grow, felt appreciated, involved, challenged, empowered...

Most employees leave a company because of bad management.’


I agree, ‘Employees give their best when they are treated with respect.’’

I agree, ‘Most employees leave a company because of bad management.’

But this is not the full picture. Not now.

Let me explain my thinking.

Two years ago, maybe one year ago, I would agree, ‘Employees give their best when they are treated with respect’’, Most employees leave a company because of bad management.’

In my heart of hearts, I still agree.

And yes, I have watched bosses give the team all of this. And more. Much more. And still, people who had been the most loyal and dedicated members of the team, hand in their notice. When they are at great agencies doing all the right things.

However, times have changed.

We now have a disproportionate number of younger and different-thinking people in our businesses. Call them snowflakes, if you will, but they have been brought up in different times with different values and ethics. Different from their bosses.

Covid has changed how we all look at everything: work, home, priorities, everything.

The Great Resignation is a thing. We see it all around us. People leave the old 9-5, either for something fresher or for something entirely different.

Inflation is about to start raging and we all are aware that the price of everything will go bonkers, but our current wage packet will not. But more than this affordability is an issue. Can agencies even afford some of the nutty salaries being demanded!

It is a sellers’ market. There is a shortage of talent and huge demand – every agency has vacancies; every team member is a potential target for a head-hunter. Agency bosses are meant to be grateful when someone comes to join them. Too many stories of candidates interviewing the agencies and saying they’ll get back to the agency when they’ve seen the others. A world gone mad.

Bland similarity of the agencies – when every agency looks identical and none really has a differentiated proposition to their applicants, why should the candidate be more attracted to you? Does your agency culture really differentiate you?

But my main gripe is that I know a large number of agencies who offer all nine attributes… but it just doesn’t seem to be enough. Proper money (ie more than ‘paid well’) trumps the lot. Or they can go and do something they love.

We have created a world where the younger generation finds it hard to visualise ever owning a home or paying off the student loan. To many of them, an extra fiver trumps all the mentoring you can give them.

So, all the ‘good’ stuff has become normalised. Every agency now has a football table or flexible hours or WFH or a diversity policy. Most every agency pays well.

But it is not enough.

More and more, I now find myself saying that the only way to attract the best candidates is to pay more than the competition. It has become brutal out there. Cash is king. I am afraid that creating a family atmosphere and a sense of belonging – all those warm and fuzzy things we used to shout about pre-covid – may not be enough.