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Interesting discussion at the inaugural PRWeek.com Employer's Forum

PRFutures recently sponsored a PRWeek discussion forum on employment issues involving the winners of this year's 'Best Places to Work' awards.

Here's our take on the different topics that were discussed.

Added on 20.04.2014

There is a shortage of account managers and account directors

There is a shortage of top quality candidates at account manager and account director level, most likely because graduate intake was cut immediately after the 2008-9 crash and there aren't enough people with three to five years' experience.

Reputation and candidate attraction is important

People want to work for award winning agencies; even a start up that is tipped or has been named as one of the hottest will get approached by people who will risk a career change. The reputation an agency has at a social level as well as a professional one can be a big factor, because people want to be proud of who they work for.

Because of this, good candidates at account manager / director level will often have as many as six offers to consider. Making a good impression on a candidate is vital. We've written about general recruiting mistakes to avoid and specifically about candidate attraction recently.

A good culture is usually immediately obvious

And this is really something that you can't fake. If people walking into your workplace encounter an atmosphere that impresses them and a culture that they can identify with, then you've made that impression. Key words were:

  • 'buzz' (or clearly genuine relationships in action, producing great work for great clients);
  • informal (not just the freedom to wear clothes that make you feel comfortable - one agency even mentioned no shoes in the office); and
  • fun (games and laughter evident, because play is scientifically proven to promote creativity).

A flexible attitude pays...

Another topic of discussion was the importance of valuing staff with commitments outside work such as young children, people caring for sick parents or partners and those who need flexible and shorter work hours. It was refreshing to see that all involved had a culture in which it was OK to not constantly seek to progress or to put work before everything, but instead to be a valued member of the team and given workloads and tasks that were possible to fulfil in a three day week.

... although, in our experience, more people need to realise this

Creating an environment where some of your employees are devoting more time to their families is wise, as there's no reason at all to assume that people are less effective when they are at work just because they are at work for less time. It also creates a more balanced culture in the office that reflects society as a whole rather than some sort of 'boiler room' mentality. One participant also said that they would not hold back part-timers from senior roles either. Nevertheless, our experience is that there is still a long way to go in this area.

To read the transcript of the full discussion, and watch video interviews with all the participants read the full article on PRWeek.com.