OPINION: Why high staff churn could be a good thing

The colleges are currently bursting with bright young graduates with every conceivable qualification in media studies and PR, desperate for their first jobs.

Interns are available to employers at an unprecedented rate and almost every experienced practitioner is avail­able to discuss a move at the right price. Equally, people with qualifications in other specific professions want to switch to PR. These include a plethora of journalists, marketers and other professionals who want to swap a career in law, politics, fashion or sport for a life in PR.

There is an almost entirely enviable restlessness of spirit and a profusion of talent available to the PR industry. It has become one of the most sought after vocations with an almost mythical status attached to it. Its popularity is not new. Rather it has been creeping up throughout the last decade: only last week I met a relatively senior PRO who told me that she had wanted to be in PR from the age of 13.

Given the scale of ambition to enter the industry, and the vast numbers pursuing PR-related education disciplines, why do so many employers view hiring as being so difficult? And equally, why are so many employers so concerned about what they see as a high staff churn, with some employees restless for a move after relatively short stays?

Surely it is symptomatic of a healthy industry and the bright and creative spirits it ­attracts that many should seek a variety of jobs – particularly while they are in their twenties. I actually believe that a three-year cycle among a percentage of staff can be helpful to the creative spirit of the agency or in-house team. From an agency perspective, changing the team around can perversely be beneficial to client retention simply by freshening the approach with a new face and mind in the team. For both agency and in-house, a change in personnel can bring fresh solutions and revived creativity to perennial problems.

All the above is, of course, dependent on the right hires being made. Maybe the reason some employers find the process of hiring so trying is that too much of it is delegated to recruitment agencies obsessed with percentage-based fees or to HR departments whose knowledge is too
process-driven and too obsessed with the details of employment law. The swirling pool of talent available to our industry has never been greater. Selecting from it should be a rewarding occupation for senior players who can marry up the needs of the industry with the diverse talents of those seeking career opportunities in it. It is simply too important to contract out.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former senior executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun newspapers

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