agency recruitment

How to attract and retain great agency staff

The key to delivering great work for clients is in assembling and maintaining a high-performing team. Your team is undeniably your agency’s most valuable asset so whether you’re a network agency or a growing indie, the quest to attract and retain the ideal team is crucial to ensuring the continuous delivery of strategic and creative work for your clients.  

It’s been over 20 years since McKinsey popularised the term ‘war for talent’. The phrase describes the difficulties faced by employers chasing down an ever-decreasing number of increasingly mobile, highly sought after high potential employees. In mid- to high-complexity and seniority roles, companies can struggle to find the right people not least because high potential talents can take their pick of jobs from a global pool. So with that in mind, how do agencies attract and retain great staff? 

1. Transparent Hiring Processes 

TikToker Lauren Spearman has amassed a growing following of marketers with her no-nonsense commentary on “the shit-show that is the marketing job market”. She’s advocating for salary transparency and clear job descriptions, calling out the ridiculous expectations a lot of brands or agencies put upon candidates.   

What can we learn from Lauren’s experiences of job hunting? Be clear, be fair, and don’t hide behind the guise of a ‘competitive salary.’ Share openly what you’re offering and the role’s specifics to ensure you attract the right candidates. Respect their time and yours by fostering a relationship built on transparency. 

The same respect should always stand for junior level roles too. Don’t get entry-level candidates to complete multiple tasks just to apply for the role. And equally, agencies shouldn’t expect entry-level staff to come with years and years of experience or multiple qualifications. As Chris Pearce, chief executive of media group TMW Unlimited says, character eats qualifications for breakfast. 

2. Think outside the geographical box  

At Tangram, we have an entirely global workforce from Denmark to New Zealand. Borders shouldn’t get in the way of attracting great talent and the widened talent pool brings a wealth of varied perspectives and cultural insights to an agency. This approach not only expands your agency’s reach but also positions it as an attractive and forward-thinking employer on a global scale. 

3. Scout the talent early

It’s important for agencies of any size to start connecting with talent early in their careers.  Publicis Health’s award-winning internship program has been recognised as one of the top 100 internship programs in the United States. When agencies actively connect with emerging talent from the get-go, they not only help nurture the next wave of professionals but also help  

It’s important to remember that not all candidate’s journey into the industry is the same. With backing from WPP’s Racial Equity Programme, WPP and The One Club for Creativity introduced ONE School UK – a 16-week online portfolio program crafted to help open doors for Black creatives into the advertising industry. This initiative not only aligns with WPP’s commitment to social responsibility but also serves to identify top talent and connect them with the WPP brand, even before they’re actively job hunting. It’s a win-win that supports diversity, opens doors, and strengthens the creative community. 

4. Prioritise training and development  

Investing in training programs is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent. Recognising the common challenge of high staff turnover in agencies, investing in training is a smart move. When someone leaves, valuable skills often go with them, and training helps pass on knowledge within the team. Continuous learning not only enhances the skills and expertise of the team but also fosters a culture of growth and adaptability. 

LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report 2020 states 94% of employees would stay longer in a company if it invested in their learning and development. Agencies that prioritise training demonstrate a commitment to their staff’s professional advancement, ensuring the satisfaction and retention of current team members. Investing in training is an investment in the agency’s most valuable asset – its people. 

Teach by Tangram is an eLearning tool offering interactive inductions and training for agencies. All learning modules are self-paced and perfect for introducing new team members to an agency and its processes or refresher training for existing employees. Try a free 2-week trial here.  

Integrated brand communications agency, Traffic, wanted a better training solution for their growing business, that was both cost-effective and a trusted source of information and best practice. Teach by Tangram has made their onboarding process much less time-intensive for team members and management, saving vital time for billable work.  

5. Think long term 

The retention of top-tier talent should be a strategic priority for any agency. It involves more than just attracting skilled individuals; it’s about actively working to keep them within your fold. This means providing internal development opportunities, engaging in transparent career discussions, and occasionally taking calculated risks. By creating opportunities for these standout individuals, agencies the talent and knowledge remains but also cultivate an atmosphere that encourages continual development and loyalty. Prioritising retention is an investment in the longevity and success of any agency.  

If your agency is looking for a partner to help drive learning and development for staff, read more about Teach by Tangram 

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Helen Johnson
+61 404 458 797


Christian Arpe-Hansen
+45 31 36 66 03