Agency CEOs and Founders often feel that challenges around business talent are insurmountable, but redefining Employee Experience puts you back in control. 

business talent

It’s hard to avoid the pressure in the talent market right now. Alongside the very real challenges of finding great people, wage inflation and bringing more diverse talent into the industry, there’s also an ever-present threatening hype, from the so-called ‘talent war’ to the ‘great resignation’. 

Many agency leaders are in a permanent state of tension. This all feels beyond their control. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Once you define the challenge more clearly, a big part of the solution is found hiding in plain sight. 

From hype to clarity 

Relieving all this pressure starts with creating some clarity. Much like the language of agency strategy (mission, purpose, vision, values etc), when it comes to business talent, we’re routinely confused by a surplus of woolly, overlapping terms.

And this exhausting list is far from exhaustive: 

In fairness, many of these terms have their place, but the overlap seriously hinders progress – not just when you’re setting your direction, but also when you’re executing your plans. Every single person in your business will have a slightly different understanding. 

The simple truth is that – especially in a service industry – People Strategy is a fundamental part of your business strategy. But what does it actually mean? 

People Strategy is a set of priorities for how you’ll attract, retain and grow talent, in order to achieve your overall goals. It’s brought to life through your Employee Experience – that’s every touchpoint from before your people join until after they leave. 

In short, Employee Experience is the execution of your People Strategy. Each is essential to the other.

The hidden solution 

Turning to the talent problem, the reality is that most agencies focus too much on hiring. They spend very little time and energy on attracting their ideal talent and also not nearly enough on keeping great people once they’ve joined. Hence the expensive vicious cycle of finally securing great people, only for them to leave prematurely. 

Be honest and ask yourself:

This is why having a clear, fit-for-purpose People Strategy is so critical. It means you can improve your end-to-end Employee Experience, which in turn has two major benefits. 

Firstly, it frees you up to focus on what’s in your control, rather than what’s not. For example, while wage inflation may feel like an unavoidable external pressure, having a more textured view on your people helps you uncover more creative ways to secure and motivate them.

This deeper understanding also enables you to tailor your employees’ experience – from before they join, throughout their time with you, until after they leave. Improvements here can be transformational – especially when your overarching strategy offers meaningful differentiation to build in. It all helps you win hearts as well as minds. 

Define what good looks like 

Whether or not your People Strategy feels in good shape, the immediate priority is to define what’s working well, where improvements will have the most impact, and which blindspots are holding you back. 

Co:definery offers a customisable diagnostic workshop to help you define the fastest route forward. The core process is as follows:

  1. Goals: where you’re headed, strategic priorities
  2. State of play: untangling language, where are you now, key players, known constraints
  3. Progress: urgent changes, how to go from good to great, differentiating your Employee Experience
  4. Scale: appropriate tools, techniques, and stakeholder engagement
  5. Actions: priorities, owners and deadlines. 

For some agencies, this diagnostic is a swift validation or course correction, giving them the clarity they need to make the right changes. Others uncover broader requirements, so the process shapes the further guidance they need – around People Strategy, Employee Experience, overarching agency strategy or a combination of all three. 

Winning the moments that matter

Many agency leaders feel helpless when it comes to the talent market. But far from being an unwinnable ‘war’, securing the best people is in fact a series of very winnable moments. 

These moments are defined by having a clearer People Strategy, expressed through a more bespoke and compelling Employee Experience – especially if each step reflects a powerfully differentiated brand.

Rethinking talent in this way can be a major catalyst for success – impacting everything from standout, growth and profit, to reducing staff turnover, increasing productivity and building the right reputation. 

So wherever you’re starting from, is improving your People Strategy a high enough priority for you and your leadership team?

Image: Gustavo Sánchez
Enjoyed this?
Then subscribe to Breaking Bland - a quarterly digest of ideas, invites and articles to help you stand-out and grow faster.