Naysayers are wrong: millennials will not desert the industry because of COVID-19

What we really want is some kind of certainty about how this works out, and that is difficult when we can’t quite see the way ahead. But be in no doubt, the way ahead is emerging – and more quickly than many might imagine.

Hang in there – better days are coming, writes Simon Whitehead
Hang in there – better days are coming, writes Simon Whitehead

Many companies rightly opened up across the summer to provide that relief and, where feasible, to get teams working again face to face.

To see colleagues was a moment of delight as many were reunited. We will be there again.

And among it all, keeping and hiring the best people continues as we head towards recovery in 2021.

Many have worried about the impact of COVID-19 particularly on our industry’s youngest talent.

In addition to concerns about health, there have been warnings that some may move away from our industry, and that the natural inclination after a difficult experience is to seek that change.

But these naysayers are wrong – that’s not what I am seeing in the PR industry.

Rather, I am seeing people acknowledging the vibrancy and challenge of our dynamic industry.

I am seeing people view their work as one of the steady and reassuring factors in their lives.

I see an end to the uncertainty in sight, and a chance for our industry, and the great people in it, to write the next chapter of its story ever more clearly.

There is much in this, and agencies that get this right will grow and attract the best people.

Our people deserve a clear vision, a solid strategy and a plan. They want strong and regular communication about that vision, transparency about what’s going well and what needs to be fixed, and they want to see progress with considered actions that ladder up into that longer-term plan.

They want to be part of a culture where they can all be their best and truly belong.

Above all, people want to have trust in the senior team around them, and that they will get them through to the brighter days ahead. And as we move beyond uncertainty, people want considerate leaders who are interested in their lives and sympathetic to their pressures.

My advice is that this is a time to double down: stay focused on what can be achieved, but think boldly about the recovery ahead.

Create a routine that works for you and make the most of the technologies that are, thankfully, keeping our industry moving.

And ensure you have people around you who are trying their utmost to do the right thing, for both you and the business.

Do this and you will break through the clouds and look ahead into the sunlight.

Simon Whitehead is chief executive, UK, at Hill + Knowlton Strategies

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