Photo credit: kkirugi/Creative Commons
Attracting and retaining A-list talent ain’t easy — nor should it be, at least in the opinion of Sudler New York MD John Marchese. So when he’s asked to weigh in on current employment trends in and around healthcare marketing, Marchese, one of the agency world’s clearest voices on all things career-related, doesn’t pull any punches.
When he surveys the broader agency landscape, Marchese still sees any number of companies falling back on what worked for them in the near or distant past. While the basic reason for that isn’t especially complex — change remains a continual pain point — he believes that too few are willing to confront it head-on.
“Evolution is something you can truly feel — in your stomach, in your heart, in your mind,” he says. “If you ignore [the need to evolve], soon you start feeling the real pain.”
The way to avoid reaching that point is by embracing it. “Sometimes you make a decision and you’re wrong — well, try to do it right the next time,” Marchese continues. “It sends the right message when employees can see that you’re pushing through a tough situation and you’re supporting them during it. I’d be doing our people a disservice if I didn’t do that hard work.”
The hard work extends into the hiring sphere. Marchese believes that one of the most crucial traits in any person tasked with managing an organization’s human capital is an unwillingness to settle.0
“It’s easy to ‘fill open positions,’” he says. “We’ve banned that phrase. If you do that, you’re just checking boxes on a list. I’d rather wait [for the right person] for months.”
Given the current realities of the marketplace, agencies sometimes have no other choice. As a result, agencies like Sudler need to keep their antennas up for frequent job-hoppers, individuals who jump from one firm to the next for a similar position and perhaps some additional cash. “You have to fight harder than you used to. You have to get more competitive about it,” he says.
Marchese believes that Sudler is on to something with its apprenticeship program called Class of 75, launched earlier this year as part of the celebration of the agency’s 75th anniversary. Sudler brought in 75 recent college graduates interested in pursuing careers as art directors or account leaders, among other mainstay roles. The apprentices worked at Sudler for two months and received eight hours of training per week. Through late July, it had hired 18 individuals from the inaugural class. Sudler has already decided to extend the program into its 76th year — and likely beyond.
“This has been a business for 75 years, but somebody’s going to have to get it through the next 75,” Marchese quips.
“Things will always change, because the world moves faster than ever before — that’s not a Sudler or an industry thing, that’s just reality. So feeding new talent into the company is critical,” Marchese continues. “If you do that — if you get the best people and feed their minds with good, rewarding work — you’re probably going to be pretty successful.”