A Fresh Look at Talent for 2017

Article by Karen van Bergen, CEO, Omnicom Public Relations Group


Talent is consistently at the top of the list of concerns in the communications industry. Unfortunately, I often find that we go about it in the same ways, hoping for different results.

Here are four ways you can think a little differently about talent in the New Year.

1) Get diverse about diversity
Getting in front of ethnic diversity and increasing the number of women and other minorities in leadership roles will soon be table stakes. I’m relieved to see that we’re engaging in a conversation around this critical issue – it’s something we badly need to resolve.

As we put our heads together to solve it, I’d suggest that we need to think even more broadly about diversity. We need not only diversity of ethnicity, sexual orientation and sex, but a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds.

Companies like Google do this by hiring artists, architects, writers and musicians. Omnicom’s Accelerate Exbellum program brings in military Special Forces veterans, a group of high performers who wouldn’t normally consider or be considered for a role in the communications field.

How can you be more brave as you consider the talent you hire? Where can you go to find talent that’s a little bit different?

2) Rethink Working Hard
The idea that you need to work relentless hours and never take vacation to be a productive contributor is just plain false. Equally unproductive is the 9-5 mindset. These outdated ideas need to go by the wayside.

There is great opportunity for us to embrace more non-traditional working models in the communications industry. What about making part time an option for more people, especially for working mothers, but also men who want to pursue a creative interest on the side? Why not consider time schedules that incorporate weekends? Or a day that starts at 3 p.m. and runs until midnight or later? This type of flexibility could be extremely attractive and conducive to a more diverse pool of talent. And it might even make freelancing a much less attractive option than it has become.

3) Do More with Technology
Whether it’s using Slack and Facebook at Work or creating your own tools that engage talent and build a community, there is much more we can do with technology.

Companies like Spotify have done away with their traditional performance review, replacing it with a gamified version, dramatically improving completion rates.

Ketchum has created a gamified recruitment tool that levels the playing field for fellowship candidates by evaluating on how they think versus what they have done. It won a PRWeek Diversity Distinction in PR Award recently.

Augmented and virtual reality have enormous potential as well, whether it’s giving a prospective employee an office tour or creating realistic client challenges that allow you to see how candidates solve problems and relate to others.

4) Leverage Data
We’re getting better and better at using data to predict what customers will do, what they will respond to and what will make them buy. What if, using predictive analytics, we knew the exact time that a senior executive was looking for a new opportunity, and we could either preempt it (if it was our employee) or make a timely outreach when they were particularly open to change (if at a competitor)? Let’s think about data and how we can leverage it to be even smarter about talent.

As we welcome 2017, I hope you’re as determined as I am to practice what you preach when it comes to talent. There is so much potential if we make our talent strategy as critical to our work as our business strategy.