C&IT Agency Forum: Low entry-level salaries are key recruitment challenge

Entry-level salaries in London and lack of mobility in certain regions are among the biggest challenges for staff recruitment and retention in the events industry.

Karen Rice and Sarah Cox debate talent management at C&IT's Agency Forum
Karen Rice and Sarah Cox debate talent management at C&IT's Agency Forum

Regional challenges

Speaking at a workshop on talent management at C&IT’s Agency Forum, Karen Rice, operations director at Banks Sadler, said one of the key recruitment challenges in the capital was the low entry-level salaries, which made moving to the city unaffordable for many young people.


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"Our biggest challenges are all centred around the different regions," she explained. "In an office like York, for example, we see a lot of people staying in the same place, which means we need to create new opportunities for them. It’s difficult to get them to move around when we require resources in other areas. In Germany there’s a very high level of employment, which means we struggle to get enough good candidates."

When it comes to the recruitment process, Sarah Cox, head of talent at First Protocol, said simple changes can have a positive effect. "We've been working hard to break down the interview process, to ensure that everyone is responsible for different things. We also include our clients in the process, as they play such an important role in the business." 

Rice added that having a 'pipeline' of prospective employees can also help the recruitment process. "At least 50% of our university placement students go on to get full-time roles. We also use social media and dedicated HR professionals in-house to ensure we're always engaged with people who might want to work for us in future- even if there's nothing on the cards right now." 

Staff retention

Cox said that the average length an employee stayed at the business was around four years, with young people tending to move on the most quickly.

"We need to look at how we can enhance their journey, through formal talent review processes and employee-led benefit schemes." She added that flexible working schemes and staff involvement had become much more integral to the industry in recent years.

"Ten years ago working from home might be frowned upon, but now people understand it’s important to help people work effectively and have a work/life balance. We use events, such as our Christmas away day, to determine what our employees want from us." She added that the benefits survey, where the company used an in house committee to evaluate the company’s offering, had come as a result of the meet up.

External factors

While ensuring a positive work office environment is important for both recruitment and retention, some factors can’t be controlled by agencies. "If our employees have to work with a very difficult client, we would make sure they’re being offered enough support and move them from the account if necessary," said Rice. She added that people could be enrolled in coaching programmes to help them deal with difficult situations and become more assertive.

More:

C&IT's Agency Forum kicks off at The O2 and ExCeL London

C&IT Agency Forum: ITV's Sally Holt on pitching 

C&IT Agency Forum: Stick to budget in pitches says brand panel 

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