Article - Five Ways to Proactively Respond to The Recruitment Conundrum

articles leadership mindset people and culture Apr 01, 2022

READ: 3 mins
AUTHOR: Janusz Stabik

 The Problem

You’re struggling to recruit the talent you need to grow your agency and onboard more clients…

And you’re not alone. 

In almost all of our coaching sessions - that’s four a day, over 18 months with agencies around the globe - recruitment is the number one and recurring concern of company leads and directors. 



The pandemic. 

  1. Digital has developed: unlike many others, the digital and creative sectors expanded in the last 24 months - particularly in businesses which intersect with (or are) e-commerce brands. This saturated market means more demand on the talent pool. 
  2. Physically remote working - with the restrictions of the commute or geography removed, you can work for anyone and be recruited from anywhere
  3. Emotionally remote working - it's hard to nurture company loyalty and develop a corporate culture your employees buy into at a distance. 
  4. Big corp has caught onto the advantages of in-house creatives, draining talent with the lure of higher salaries and the kudos of working in cool and dynamic places. 


The Solution

There is no silver bullet and equally there’s no justification for believing the problem will go away overnight. But there are steps you can take to attract new recruits and ensure ‘stickiness’ in current staff.


  • Cultivate a collegiate culture


Invest in building a team of people who see themselves as a network of friends and dependencies, not company commodities. Encourage conversation. A quick check-in on this might be to reflect on language use in a virtual workspace, like Slack. 

  • How many sentences are imperatives / directives? 
  • How much is transactional? 
  • Is there any space given for interpersonal talk, relationship building and consolidating? 

Rather than viewing ‘small-talk’ as impeding productivity, the truth is it’s part of the wider picture of a bonded workplace and a component of securing long-term loyalty. 

  1. Be known for your niche and / or have a purpose 

Attracting like minded people cultivates the identity of your agency brand. So, be known for something and nurture that individuality, that niche: this focus will attract folk who also believe in, are drawn to and are excited by that thing. 

  • If your agency makes commitments on sustainability, make this a core value and amplify it alongside your projects. 
  • If you’re passionate about sports, double down in that niche and recruit people with the same interests. 
  1. Perks that perform 

Perks should never be tokenistic or they risk being patronising. 

Compete to make your EMPLOYEES’ LIVES BETTER than the next agency’s, finding ways to offer ‘things’ with value.

Table tennis and bean-bags are out; flexitime, hybrid working, or four day weeks are the perks that perform, especially post-pandemic. 

  1. Talent Pools

If yours is exhausted, set up your unique value proposition in another one or dive deeper into your current pool by utilising a new model. 

  • Think breadth: exploring off-shoring or satellite offices. 
  • Think depth: would options like remote working or Flexi-time deepen your recruitment options without moving or adding locations?
  1. Mad-min management 

Remove administrative procedurals for your fee earners. 

Time and time again we see work that a lower paid VA or junior could be doing taking up around 80% of a high earner’s time. 

Free up their time for thinking and creating to enable you to onboard more clients - therefore reducing the need for recruitment in the first place.

Consider this: does a head chef spend time prepping the veg or cleaning down the kitchen? No, they have a team which prepares the meals’ components, ready for their expert assessment and creative flair.

Apply this metaphor to your own team: do you really need new recruits, or could you reduce the restrictions of red-tape or task-based time for your current talent? 

If so, is your recruitment focus correct after all? Would more VAs or juniors solve your problems? 

Respond, Resolve, Retain

If your recruitment and retention is more ‘aaarrgh’ than ‘R ’n R’, your resolution might lie in one of the proactive steps outlined above. 

In summary, this looks like:

  • Building a community and culture to inspire loyalty 
  • Nurturing a niche and appeal to talent enthused by it 
  • Finding perks to appeal to your people that improve their lives 
  • Dipping into new talent pools: think breadth and depth 
  • Assessing systemisation - staff task-based procedurals at the right pay-grade