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Agencies have a planner problem

News, 05 January 2017

NEW YORK: Agencies must address clear "satisfaction gaps" among planners if they want to retain the best strategic talent going forwards, a study from LinkedIn and the 4A's suggests.

In compiling their research, LinkedIn, the business-orientated social network owned by Microsoft, and the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies), the trade group, tapped a wide range of quantitative and qualitative data sources.

And the findings, presented at the 4A's Strategy Festival, showed that 92% of planners are "interested in hearing about a new job" – and are 30% less likely to be "very satisfied" with their current role than the norm.

"What does this result in? [Planners and strategists] are very much keeping your options open," said Jann Schwarz, Global Director/Agency and Channel Development at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. (More details are available in Warc's free-to-access feature report: Why agencies have a planner problem.)

"They're certainly looking for work … much more aggressively than even the rest of the agency industry – and then more so than average professionals on LinkedIn."

In part, Schwarz asserted, this trend may result from planners' characteristic desire to explore new things and tackle fresh intellectual challenges.

But practitioners in this field also outscored their agency counterparts and cross-industry benchmarks when it came to a variety of "satisfaction gaps".

Some examples included missing out on a promotion, cited by 46% of strategy specialists, an unstimulating day at work, on 42%, and hearing about an uncertain future for their firm, on 38%.

Despite their underlying restlessness, planners were more likely than the cross-industry average to see themselves working at their current employer for any period between the next six months and next five years.

They were also less likely to switch companies or industries than the agency norm, and more interested in getting promoted or changing roles internally than members of other disciplines in the sector.

Schwarz argued that this "paradox" offers opportunities for agencies willing to meet the needs of planners, who are typically interested in more than simply improving their remuneration packages.

"On the one hand, there's a lot of uncertainty [and] you're keeping your options open. On the other hand, you're actually quite passionate about the work," he told the 4A's audience of planning experts.

"And you'd much rather get promoted than switch companies. And you'd much rather switch companies than work in a different industry. So I think that's a really, really fascinating insight."

Data sourced from Warc