Keeping teams happy is the number one priority for agency leaders right now, as the competition for talent hots up.
This was one of the key topics covered at our recent nineteen agency leaders meeting, with heads of agencies from BCD Meetings & Events, Jack Morton Worldwide, Principal Global Events, OrangeDoor, In2Events, Sledge, Worldspan, DRPG, Cheerful Twentyfirst and more, in attendance.
The meeting focused on “back to school”, and agencies discussed getting teams back into the workplace, virtual versus live, client nervousness, and ongoing uncertainty.
One agency head described it as “dog eat dog” in the agency world with a lot of head hunting and poaching going on. “Look after your team and show them some love. You need to make sure you are the school they want to be at – the employer of choice. They have all been on very different journeys through the pandemic and I think there is a lot of post-traumatic Covid shock out there.
“We have had a massive push on getting back to normal and getting people back into the office. You also need to make sure they are enjoying what they are doing as a lot of job roles have changed. We are recruiting and it’s so hard now, it’s almost impossible. We’re almost getting down to blind bids with some candidates, where they have three job offers to choose between.”
Many agencies have seen employees leave the events industry for completely different careers as they have had enough of working in events because of the impact of the pandemic on the sector.
One agency head said: “My advice is to keep really close to your key people because some people are looking to get out of the industry. The priority for me is caring about the team and looking out for each other. It’s about being the glue in the business – that’s our job as leaders. We are getting back to live, and stress levels rise when delivering big events.”
Another pointed out that with the schedule of client events constantly changing, with some being pushed back and others switching to virtual, it is unsettling for the team and beginning to take its toll on their personal lives. “They are finally able to start having a social life again, and then suddenly they have to work a weekend or fly overseas at short notice for a client, so there could be a wellbeing issue there.”
After a period of pay freezes throughout the pandemic, some agencies are looking to increase salaries for staff again and looking to bring back bonuses. One agency leader said he has reviewed all the benefits packages, is increasing holidays, and has just held a recharge month focused on getting teams together, with lots of social events.
In terms of enquiries and business outlook, it’s a mixed bag, with some agencies delivering live events in September, and throughout the autumn, while others are only delivering virtual for the rest of 2021 and don’t expect to see live come back until 2022.
“We have just had one of our major clients cancel all face-to-face events across Europe until January at the earliest,” said one agency head, while another said he has just delivered its first incentive in Mallorca for a construction client and has a global hybrid event for 35,000 people in eight countries planned for another client in December.
The outlook for 2022 is still uncertain, with one agency head saying “we honestly don’t know what 2022 looks like. It could be great, but it could also be another year of continued uncertainty.”
Our nineteen meeting chair concluded: “If we don’t get back to work and don’t get the staff back to the office and we don’t help them to refresh their skills, we will have no talent pool for when Covid numbers go down and live event business does come back.”