Agencies struggling to retain staff beyond a ‘few years’

Asia-Pacific communications professionals are moving “too quickly” between roles in the industry, creating a “major hiring challenge” for agencies trying to keep up with the churn – a report by Prospect and Public Affairs Asia has found. The State of the Industry 2017 report revealed that agencies, especially those based in China, are struggling to retain staff beyond “a few years” because people move companies often in return for a “small increment in salary or an enhanced title”.

The study cited one Singapore-based agency managing director as saying her business strategy, and client management process, factored in an expectation of high staff turnover. Some organisations were suffering from the effects of ‘title inflation’ as a result of hiring people at more senior levels, the research revealed.

According to the industry chiefs interviewed, agencies should instead foster “a culture in which staff continually learn new things and are given significant levels of coaching and mentoring by senior colleagues” rather than inflating job titles and remuneration as incentives to retain or attract staff.

The report stated: “One effective way for agencies to retain staff is to ensure they encourage the development of roles around individuals’ strengths and preferences. For example, moving some into more integrated roles and away from pure communications or PR, or encouraging staff who enjoy client management to specialise in that area.”

The report also found that salaries across the region’s markets increased at a lower rate – 5 per cent – in 2016 than had been the case in the previous two years. Australia was said to have the highest average salary for senior executives in communications roles across the APAC region, at US$199,000, followed by Singapore at US$151,000. Average in-house salaries tended to exceed average agency salaries, with public affairs and government relations roles being the highest paid.


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