Lack of skilled digital marketing talent and high attrition rates of existing resources has literally choked the growth of digital agencies in India. This trend remains consistent across independent local agencies and large global conglomerates. Based on my past discussions with few leading recruitment consultants, in managerial roles, the average attrition rate stands at around 10%, but the overall attrition rate in the advertising space is around ~30% and it remains in the same range for digital startups.
Although, global network agencies like the Publicis, WPP, IPG, Dentsu etc. face less challenge compared to their local counterparts due to their bigger bench strength and the number of opportunities within the group companies.
Human capital is the back bone of any service sector company, but poor human capital management makes digital agencies in India extremely vulnerable to the concept of attrition.
Why is attrition rate so high across digital agencies in India?
Agency work culture demands highly skilled & motivated employees which is a rarity in these times. Most of the people are working for fast career growth (financially or otherwise). While skilled employees have more than enough opportunities to choose from at any given point of time, exponential growth of digital advertising in the country has resulted in high demand and less supply of skilled manpower.
In my decade long experience as a digital marketing expert, I’ve worked with all type of digital organisations, from big agencies to large enterprise companies and the early stage startups, but when it comes to attrition, digital agencies are the most vulnerable lot.
Here are some of the key reasons for high attrition rates in digital agencies:
Dynamic digital projects
Over the years, digital projects have become more and more non-linear, courtesy the growth in the number of digital channels & platforms. There is so much to learn for digital professionals that nobody like sameness in their daily job.
Employees in digital agencies are always looking for newer opportunities and would like to challenge themselves on a daily basis to increase their productivity and create innovative campaigns using unique ideas and technology. In agencies where the clients are more open to innovation and experimentation, get to retain a lot of their creative & servicing talent. And, that’s a fact!
No time for upgrade
With such enormous pressure of timelines and delivery, it is very difficult for the talent in digital agencies to upgrade their knowledge & skill. Most of the digital client servicing professionals have not done any specialised certification (like GA or Analytics), nor they intend to do it. There’s a time when everyone feels that they are hitting a dead end in their learning. At that very moment, they call it a quit.
Poor Appraisal Policies
There is no doubt that a lot of people (including myself) work in the digital marketing and media business for the sheer romance of it. But you cannot ignore the monetary compensation aspect, especially when majority of the workforce is hired on entry / junior level. I agree money is not the only motivating factor but, it definitely complements when the job satisfaction is high. A lot of agencies use operating income as an excuse for poor appraisal because they have signed high value clientele by compromising their profit margins, which lead to poor employee appraisals and eventually high attrition rate.
High work pressure
Being a part of service sector, advertising industry was always a high pressure affair. Words like ASAP are extremely popular in the client – agency parlance. There is no respite or escape for the execution teams including servicing, strategy, creative, media and social. Single creative resource is working across 2-3 live project at the same time, leaving him with little mind space to churn out ideas. The situation is a lot worse for client servicing teams who have to turn themselves into an octopus in order to manage multiple conflicting project timelines across multiple teams. The result is, only the tough hearted survive the onslaught, while the rest start looking for greener pastures.