The Soda Academy

Introduction to Talent

There’s an old agency adage that your product leaves the building every night. Talent. It’s every agency’s greatest vulnerability.

Under threat from glamorous start-ups, major tech companies, and clients building in-house teams, agencies can’t underestimate how important talent acquisition, retention and satisfaction are.

Consider this: 57% of U.S. millennials stay in their first job just one year, according to that nation’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compounding that are the visible and hidden costs of backfilling talent: Forbes reported that 87% of companies say it costs them $15,000-$25,000 to replace a single millennial employee.

This report explores all the ways talent can be supported – from establishing a clear internal culture to throwing out old assumptions around feedback and reviews.

I recently spent an hour with an industry peer bemoaning the reviews software our companies use. We both know the system is broken and, as creatives, feel compelled to fix it. But in the hustle and bustle of deadlines and making great products, we never pause to find a new solution.

Fortunately, Peyton Lindley at Effective UI and Peter Kang at Barrel have each done just that. In Lindley’s piece, he dismantles the manager-centric focus in reviews and turns to a more fluid peer-focused model.

And, as Kang describes, Barrel took the bold step of discarding the performance review altogether, replacing it with thoughtful and targeted management conversations throughout the year.

Sometimes, when the market doesn’t produce the talent you need, you have to cultivate it yourself. That’s what Cain Ullah explains as he describes Red Badger’s academy program that turns college students into superstars.

And finally there’s the intangible: culture. How do you create it? And how do you ensure it isn’t just words on a plaque in the entrance?

Pound & Grain describe how their 5 rules have influenced everything from hiring to opening a new office. Don Kurz talks about how his independent creative company can keep pace with (and retain talent in the face of) behemoths like 72andSunny and Google.

And Scott Belsky reminds us that creatives, as drivers of the industry, have a growing cachet. They’re fully empowered by tools and the market to become their own businesses.

Recognize and foster all of these things (better feedback systems and reviews, a truly unique culture, creative entrepreneurship), and more of your talent will leave every day truly excited to return the next.