Talent & Careers Forum: Addressing questions on talent shortage and people management

On May 05, 2022 Research & Resources

The IAB Australia Talent and Careers working group are putting together a monthly blog piece answering key questions, providing advice and ultimately addressing the talent issues that are being faced in the digital advertising industry.

Our first piece comes from chair of the Talent and Careers working group, Sorrel Osborne, Head of Growth at playground xyz who is addressing the questions from our recent Digital Ad Ops conference that couldn’t be answered on the day.

Q. Lightbulb moments can happen individually. Is a centralised office necessary if innovation has continued at the same level pre pandemic?

This is something that we've been having a lot of conversations about and have run surveys with our teams to understand how they want to utilise our office/s going forward. A lot of the data from our global teams has been that they want to spend more time in the office for innovating/collaborating. That being said, we've really seen no decrease to the level of 'lightbulb moments' and innovation from our teams over the last 24 months while everyone has been working from home - this does show that the belief that 'watercooler' or incidental chats drive innovation, is now being pretty outdated. Our approach is to provide a space for collaboration and innovation (one that is designed accordingly) while also providing remote approaches to our infrastructure and teams such that innovation and big ideas can be raised and realised even when someone hasn't stepped foot into an office recently or, in some real-world instances for us, ever!

Q. Do you think that the talent shortage has also exposed a general low quality level of digital practitioners in our country? Have we accepted mediocre too long?

I think a lot of the data actually shows that more and more companies within our ecosystem have accepted higher vacancy rates and developed/supported teams to deal with this talent shortage in practical ways rather than hiring lower quality candidates. I can confidently say that the hiring managers at Playground xyz continue to only accept and hire the best candidates and while this can mean teams have higher workloads than we’d like, it also means that we continue to maintain an extremely impressive and high calibre group of people. This ensures we have teams that the best of the best want to work with, and in - ultimately great begets great and I'm hopeful that other companies in our ecosystem have undertaken a similar approach (I’ve have seen many who have) whereby higher vacancy rates are accepted in the shorter term, over allowing mediocre hires that demotivate teams and hurt growth.

Q. What are your thoughts on advertising the salary during recruitment? Is it a help or hinderance to attracting talent?

The panel, at the recent IAB Digital Adops Conference in Sydney, spoke about this at length and we had varied opinions and thoughtful discussion about this. Some said that they're confident in their organisation's ability to maintain/improve upon market and so salary isn't discussed until the end of the recruitment journey, while some were outspoken about providing this upfront (either during the job advertising stage or during the very first conversations) to ensure no one’s time is being wasted - both hiring managers and candidates.

I honestly think it all depends on how budgets for hires are managed at every organisation (and likely each role) as I'm certain there are a wide variety of approaches. If you're given a range for salary or know that there might be 'additional' budget for a superstar candidate than you don't want to outline a salary upfront that may stop that rockstar from applying but you also don't want that same person to do 3 interviews before understanding that the salary range is a significant step backwards for them.

So it's a balancing act, I believe in letting people know as soon as you can to align expectations - but not before you've had a chance to meet those rockstars and get them excited about the opportunity!

Q. With most advertising/marketing roles based in increasingly expensive cities, does the level of remuneration for entry/junior roles make it worth their while?

It has to, if you want to be hiring these roles in those cities. We continue to face a shortage of great talent which is also very much affecting all levels of hiring including junior/entry level roles so to also have the added complexity/challenge of trying to hire under market for those more expensive regions, is setting yourself up to fail (when difficulties are already prevalent!).

Alternatively, you need to be setting up infrastructure for hiring in less expensive regions and allow remote work - another tricky approach but may alleviate the pressure on the opex budget!

Q. Do you believe remuneration is increasing in line with demand for talent?

I think the industry is really trying to keep up but the macro themes of supply and demand mean this just continues to go up and up and up! The second challenge in regards to this (though definitely as, if not, more important) is ensuring that current teams are kept on market as well. This can mean YoY salary increases no longer look like CPI + small merit increase anymore and this can be very challenging to forecast, budget and model for finance and management teams as the goalposts are just continuously moving. That's not to say it cannot or should not be undertaken but it is worth noting that it's a huge challenge that we're facing at the moment and we need to stop thinking of the current situation as a 'blip' caused by the pandemic that will go away but rather the new BAU.

To check out the panel discussion from Digital Ad Ops, click here.