Commitment Phobia - The hopscotch of the ad world
Hello, and welcome to a world where wearing masks and sanitising hands is the 'new normal' ... and quitting jobs? Naaah! That's always been around. At least in the ad world. Yes, the uncertainty that COVID-19 brought along hasn't changed that.
There was a time when working anything >3 years anywhere before a switch was looked down upon. Now, the more switches you have on your CV, the better a candidate you are. Just about got an advertising degree? Even better.
Since technology's (divine) intervention, advertising has been rapidly evolving. Your knowledge of tomorrow is not dependent on your experience of yesterday anymore. Either the short life of 'trending formats' or the fact that different advertising agencies and their myriad of cultures challenge a different aspect of you, making you a better individual, makes candidates playing career hopscotch an appealing asset.
However, many agencies also have those who love to stick around for years - grow old, get married, have kids, buy houses, travel the world with what they earn from the agency they have been loyal to, and almost consider to be their second home.
How is it possible to have such stark differences in the way the industry works, in the mindsets of people who hire and the ones who are hired? Does it depend on the agency? Does it depend on the individual? Does it depend on the industry? Or is it a culture / generation thing?
Here's what a few chai-sutta conversations brought to light.
What makes people stray?
1. T&C Apply: While hiring resources, some agencies show how “friendly and accommodating” their culture is while they secretly have a parliament of their own. Others simply decide to over promise and fill a position they desperately need resources for, forgetting to entertain them at all - the promises and the employee. Once on board, the employees then realise that these were just empty words, eventually discouraging them to continue trusting the organisation, making them leave sooner than they intended to.
2. Chutta nahi hai: Some agencies promise huge hikes, boast of fixed appraisal cycles or recruit people on a lower pay, promising a hike after the probation is over. When followed up with, often these promises come with hidden T&Cs like - “Oh, but we expected better performance from you”; “the company isn’t doing well” (pandemic or not, this is a common excuse); “give us some time to consider” (some = forever); “we can’t be partial to your needs”; “we can only give you so much”; “this is as per industry standards”; and many more, driving good employees away.
3. Burning the night oil: More and more people are looking for better alternatives to the “agency” life simply because the idea of OT (over time) is existent but not acknowledged. Moreover, some benefits are only applicable to Cinderellas (read: those who leave post midnight), keeping those who work beyond the stipulated 9 hrs out of the picture - rendering it an unfair system. No one wants to work like this.
4. Oh, so you have studied <enter name of degree>: A few say they left because they were “burdened” with brands that they were apparent “experts” at even after requesting another brand or a shuffle with a coworker. For example: Someone with a finance degree is given BFSI brands to work on. A friend once said, “I didn’t make a career in advertising to end up working on finance again. I left finance to do this (duh!) simply because halfway through my studies I realised it was not my cuppa and I didn’t want to waste anymore years studying. Life has come a full circle, I guess? Moving on for hopeful variety is my only option.”
5. Language barrier: With so many religions and cultures tightly packed in one country, we might not understand each others’ mother tongues, but we sure do understand one language - politeness. With erratic lifestyles that agencies make their employees lead, the management sometimes forgets that the flawlessly, almost robotically working people also have a life, need to be respected, and need to be spoken well to. Expecting amazing work output by constantly pulling people down can trigger them to look for green grasses and better bosses.
What makes people stay?
1. Honesty is the best (and should be the only) policy: Workplaces with transparent policies attract candidates like flowers attract bees. People work here, feel happy, spread the word (like pollen grains), and bring in more of their friends or ex-colleagues who they had a fun work rapport with, to experience bliss (which is seldom a byproduct of working with blood-sucking agencies). The result: Efficiency at work, laughter in the air, and love in the hearts. This reflects in the interactions with the clients and other stakeholders as well, bringing happy profits!
2. The ceremony: Just like an engagement seals the deal between a couple, employee engagement activities do it for an employee and the employer. All that has to be ensured is to include them in festivities, fun activities, take them out on short trips, and sometimes even award functions. Reward them monthly, yearly or even weekly, if need be. Show them they’re seen, heard, appreciated, and make the workplace a big, dependable family - that’s exactly what they’ll do, effortlessly and without second thoughts.
3. Being Human: Employees love to be treated and spoken to as humans. Computers are made to take commands, not humans. The way one speaks to the other - with respect, consideration, and the right tone (polite!), will make or break them. Encouragement, appreciation, a pat on the back go a long way and will, of course, bring better results. It is only human to make mistakes. It is also human to forgive, guide, and mentor people to lead them where they want to go.
4. Ja Simran, ja: Sometimes, the only way to hold someone back is by setting them free. Hired qualified resources? Great! Make them take all tiny workplace decisions without constantly feeling the need of interfering in all affairs, always. This gives them more confidence to take up responsibilities, be more responsible, and make sure they are best at what they do - showcasing how reliable they can be.
5. Unit of Trust (India): Trust is the most important factor in every relationship - be it personal or otherwise. Indians either trust blindly (like they do on Godmen) or don’t trust at all (like parents on their kids). It is easier to work at a place whose foundation is built on trust. Less questioning, more trusting is what sets any agency apart - from not questioning employees about trivial things like their reason for taking a leave (which is their corporate fundamental right) to trusting their reasons for making a mistake (and trusting their word for rectifying it). Trust in them and they will do wonders - like sticking around for decades or till death do you part.
TING’s #LoveOnly philosophy ensures everyone is seen, heard, and taken care of, even mentally so, so as to make this place more than an ad agency - a close knit, reliable family. Happy TINGing!
Author: Neelam Bangar - Group Head (Copy)
All views and opinions expressed are solely the writer’s and do not express the views or opinions of TING.