ICA Swoops in with Talent Development Audit to Cure Industries Plagued by High Turnover

by Dan Verhaeghe

The Institute of Communication Agencies is the professional business association representing Canada’s communication and advertising industries. The organization represents up to 75% of all national advertising in Canada, with an economic impact of more than $19 billion annually. It has announced an industry-wide talent development audit to provide support and leadership in workforce retention and performance development.

"The ICA’s mission is to champion commercial creativity, amplify the industry’s economic impact, and to embrace and drive change," says the association. "As such, the ICA promotes thought leadership, higher standards and best practices.  It serves as the largest source of information, advice, education and training for Canada’s communication and advertising industry.”

With technology continuing to have a greater impact on our world, the advertising and communication creative clusters continue to feel the brunt of the traditional to digital to mobile transition. That’s why the ICA is identifying best practices in talent development.

Those best practices could allow more advertising and communication professionals to become continuous learners. This in turn should help elevate the genius of ideas, and the creativity of everything those professionals do.

ICA CEO Gillian Graham believes her organization can be the catalyst for an industry-wide new community of talent development leaders. Advertising and communication professionals can rise up to the challenge. This is to renew an industry-wide commitment to creativity and engagement.

For agencies that are increasing their budgets, there is a desire to invest in “the human side." That is as the industry becomes more automated with the likes of real-time bidding and programmatic media buying. Human resources practices in recent years have also become increasingly automated.

Fifty of the top 100 Fortune 500 companies use Taleo, which was founded in Canada and acquired by Oracle this year for $1.9 billion. However, the human resources system in some cases destroys an applicant’s creativity by sorting keywords that best match the job description.

Attraction and retention is incredibly important to long-term success. The most innovative and creative agencies are realizing that hiring cannot be left to automation, or black-and-white thinking recruiters.

Montreal-based Jobbook, for example, is a company that is changing the human resources landscape for companies that still want to use semi-automated human resources practices. Jobbook allows students and potential job-seekers to sign up, input all of their information, and then be matched to jobs.

Human resources professionals hit “dislike” to usher away excess applicants. A recent added feature is that users can insert an introductory video of themselves, increasing the amount of human touch in the talent hiring process.

Companies can make better hires based on understanding who the candidate is better through the human element of video. It is then easier to put in place a talent development plan for employees to do their jobs effectively.

Early information in the talent development audit has shown that ICA member agencies are indeed showing a strong resolve to maintain, and in some cases grow talent development budgets despite challenging economic factors. Employees must be so much more forward thinking than ever before.

It will be exceptionally important for employees to learn the standards of the industry they are involved in. Employees will then have to be encouraged how to carefully break standards in order to innovate, as it can be risky legally.

Matt Hartley, editor of Financial Post's Tech Desk, moderated a panel on innovation Wednesday night with eLuxe’s Joanna Track, ING’s Brenda Rideout, and Hailo’s Justin Raymond on innovation. A common theme was that companies need to encourage their employees to take risks and not be afraid to fail.

Track empowers her employees to start side-ventures within her own company that they give them funding for. Raymond said that a lot of customer service lessons had been learned in dealing with such a wide-scale operation where the company has over 11,000 taxicab drivers registered.

In advertising and communication, one learns by doing just as developers do, which is what Tumblr's Chris Haseman stressed at AndroidTO. Rideout suggested that innovation is about enabling technology rather than arriving at it. At Interactive Ontario’s X-Summit, Simplynew founder Marc Scarpa preached to start with the story, the strategy, and then figure out what tools to use. The how is not important anymore, but rather the why, and what, he said.

Agencies struggle to implement such ongoing talent development programs due to the rapidly changing nature of the industry. Advertising and communication employees should be following industry experts and futurists.

This is so they are less prone to having their mind blown away by technology everyday, which can be mentally draining. Futurists and experts can have solid track records of predicting outlines of the future. It’s up to the advertising and communication professional to make the outline more detailed for their specific agency.

Finally, talent development professionals need to understand and teach the differences between innovation and invention.

If this talent development audit is successful, perhaps employees can survive for a longer period of time in advertising and communication industries.

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Dan Verhaeghe

Dan Verhaeghe

Dan Verhaeghe focuses on marketing, mobile, major technology players, entertainment, and new media. Dan has a dozen years of online experience that dates back to the turn of the millennium where he dominated a now non-existent online RPG game for a couple of years at the age of 15. He would eventually become a Toronto Blue Jays blogger who earned his way into Toronto's CP24 studios six years... more

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