Editor’s Note: Please stay, don’t go

Depending on who you're talking to, the Great Resignation is, well, pretty great.

Jennifer Horn_headshotThis story originally appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of strategy.

Getting a resignation letter stings a little more these days. The thought of filling a job vacancy in the midst of today’s Talent Wars sends shivers down managers’ spines. While the employee drought is perhaps more conspicuous in the States, and within sectors like hospitality, it’s definitely trickling into Canada with the effects being felt by advertising and marketing communities, too.

Depending on who you’re talking to, the Great Resignation is, well, pretty great. As more and more employees look for greener pastures, some companies appear to be going through a Great Reset. Priorities are shifting to put people before profit, and they’re bending to the will of an improved benefits package. Get this: some are considering offering frozen eggs in exchange for workplace loyalty after a employee advocacy group suggested that paying for fertility treatments could help keep people on the books.

Many of the 2021 Agency of the Year winners spent years cooking up strategies to keep talent happy and loyal. The industry already boasts attractive salaries so they’ve found that retention relies on the soft sell: office spaces that employees are willing to trade their WFH desks for; zero-tolerance policies geared toward preventing burnout; and career-charting opportunities from day one.

But an even tougher sell is the industry or job itself. Some marketers, like Arterra’s Andrea Hunt, have probably found little need for non-compete agreements. That’s because there’s been a bit of an exodus (though not mass) of people leaving for a fresh start outside of marketing. They’re pursuing passions or chasing challenges in this new carpe diem era. And one way that companies can compete is by giving staff a new lease on work life. Some, for instance, are experimenting with internal transfers in the Great Reshuffle, allowing employees to get their feet wet in an entirely new role, new department, or new network agency.

Right at the start of the pandemic there was talk of whether shifts in behaviour sparked by the crisis would have a long shelf life. The jury is still out on whether the Great Resignation will one day be seen as just a blip on the radar, but will the upshots (more attractive jobs) be short-lived? I doubt it. Just look at some of the agencies in this issue to see that their priorities have always been to put their people first – and that’s why they get to go home with an AOY plane.

Jennifer Horn is the content director, editor for strategy magazine