How to Retain Young Digital Talent


There’s been a lot of talk about Gen Y’s and Millennials’ in general, but one topic that stands out to me, is how tough they are to hold on to!! Mix this with the high turnover we regularly see within the digital space and this has potential to create big challenges. Statistics show that it is very rare for Millennials to stay within their digital positions for more than 3 years and a young person who has stayed in their role for 18 months is considered a long stander. This statistic is also almost true to all Digital agency employees.

So what does today’s young digital talent really want!?

This question is nearly as difficult to answer as that of Mel Gibson’s movie “What Woman Want”. Will we ever know? Well we can certainly try!

In order to figure out what today’s young talent wants, I’ve gone to them directly surveying several of my young candidates asking the question many hiring and HR managers fail to: “What would make you want to stay in your current role”?

The most compelling statement I received was to “Give us a reason to stay”. Young people are inundated with temptation during the early stages of their careers including international travel, further study, alternate roles and even a change in mind of career or industry. As an employer, you need to ask yourself what your digital agency can offer that other agencies can’t.

The most common theme that young people want is to have a clear plan of where they are headed. Millennials aren’t the most patient generation so when it comes to crafting a clear career path for them it is specifically important to align their personal goals with your company values and for them to see the potential for growth. If there is no clear path every day is going to seem like Groundhog Day and they will eventually move on to an agency that can offer them future growth. It’s very important to have action plans in place, as Millennials want the opportunity to rise up quickly. They are aware and willing to perform well, provided they see the training and mentorship opportunities, and have genuinely bought into your company’s vision.

Talented individuals are also very aware of their talent and they are looking for agencies willing to invest in them and recognize their hard work! When dealing with Millennials something that can be very easily overlooked is praise. This proved to be a very important theme in responses I received and their message was clear. If you don’t appreciate your employees, they will find another agency that will.

The suggestions above may seem like very simple and obvious solutions to retain top talent, however you would be surprised at how many agencies think they are doing the most they can but are in actuality missing one or many key elements in the equation. Now on the other hand of the spectrum, if you happen to be over achieving the suggestions above and would like to take your retention rates to the next level, start thinking about perks!

Perks, oh the perks I’ve heard of in agency land!

Us young folk love, and I mean LOVE perks. My experience of working with a lot of today’s digital agencies has exposed me to some truly amazing workplace perks! From “doona days”, summer Fridays, fully paid gym memberships, flexible working time and place, birthday days off, the most amazing workspaces, the list goes on, and today’s agencies that are successful at retaining talent are constantly finding new ways to innovate to attract these individuals.

The most successful perks I have seen that resonate exceptionally well with young talent are incentivised perks, perks you have to work for.

  • The best agency incentive I have heard of comes from Host, an agency we work with, who has offices in Sydney and Singapore. Along with an amazing retention rate for their staff, Host awards staff who have been with the agency for over 3 years with a “Host Sabbatical”. This is an opportunity to take an extra three weeks paid leave and $2,000 to pursue a lifelong ambition. Some recent sabbaticals have included, cycling 11340km from Adelaide to Melbourne in 20 days and kicking off a (second) music career as a solo recording artist in Europe

As much as young candidates enjoy staying around for pool tables and beer fridges in the office, incentivized perks take rewards & recognition to a new level. Young people are more likely to stick around and work for their perks through exceptional work or from earning their stripes within a business.

The bottom-line here for agencies to remember is that talk is sweet, but actions really do speak louder than words. Don’t just promise career progression but deliver on this and make it a clear path with actions and a plan in place. If you want your young talent to stick around for longer than 12 months give them a reason to stay!

Michaela Kennedy is our Nakama Sydney Social Media & Digital Client Services Consultant.

If you’re looking for a new role, or for help resourcing your Social Media team, Michaela can be reached +61 (0) 432 220 289 or


Growth of SEO in Asia

Is 2015 the year for SEO to come into it’s own in Asia?

Over the last three years of recruiting within the Search function in HK I have seen huge growth in the demand for Paid Search specialist’s and not so much within SEO.  Why?  Because most businesses want instant results and immediate ROI, whereas SEO campaigns require more patience and generally require at least three months before beginning to see returns.

Investing in SEO has several benefits:

  1. The results are low cost (In comparison to PPC)
  2. Great way to increase traffic
  3. Brand credibility, people trust Google
  4. ROI  – SEO provides tractable quantifiable results
  5. Better usability

While SEO is still very much in its infancy in Asian companies, search-marketing strategies are adapting to more mobile platforms and technologies across Asia. I see 2015 as a huge year for the growth of SEO as there will be plenty of opportunities for companies throughout Asia to make credible gains.

In the month of January alone, I have seen an increase in demand for content focused SEO specialists for both digital agencies and e-commerce companies. But with Asia being a talent short market, where are the candidates going to come from?  In past I generally relied on bringing overseas talent to HK to fill SEO positions but with content and local languages being more and more important I am heavily relying on local talent being developed. Overseas candidates offer a wealth of knowledge and techniques from generally a more digitally advanced market and local talent offer their inside knowledge of the local market and of course language skills. But for businesses in Asia to have a successful SEO team I still feel they need a blend of overseas and local candidates.

If Asian companies can attract the right blend of SEO talent and get their strategy right, 2015 could be one of the most competitive years for SEO in Asia.

Adam Kennedy is our Nakama Hong Kong – Digital & SEO/SEM Consultant. 

If you’re a candidate looking for SEO work in Hong Kong, or a business looking to implement SEO strategies for your business in 2015, Adam can be reached at +852 34787248 or

2015 is going to be interesting

Digital equates to change being inevitable. The world that we now live in is always switched on. We are so much more connected.

The marketing landscape has changed and it is becoming much more individualized and more localized.

In order to succeed it is imperative that we have a strong understanding of our target audience. Consumers today are applying more power and influence and these days, instead of assertive messages directed at people, the focus has shifted to engaging people in an ongoing conversation and forming a relationship. The customer needs to be taken on a journey as we tend to gravitate towards brands that help us find meaning.

Instead of thinking in terms of digital marketing, we should be thinking in terms of marketing in a digital world. The massive shift from marketing moving from globalization to personalization and the influence that has had and will continue to have on brands and on business in general intrigues me greatly. I think about this in relation to my role as a recruiter in the digital world and how to connect best with clients and candidates. I have always adopted a personalised approach and nowadays we are able to demand radical transparency and an accurate picture in order for brands to be successful. This necessitates nurturing, listening and care. The most valuable moments are when your customer/candidate is actually in touch with you – on the phone with you, using your product, reading your content.

So how then do you get engagement? Well if you are able to address your customer’s needs, it will result in engagement. So it is important to really think about your relationships. Do you actually care about them? Do they share your values? Do you look forward to seeing that person?

On the flip side of the coin, internal Communications is an area of focus. This year will view it as a marketing asset and an opportunity to create brand ambassadors, ensuring that employees and vendors live and understand the brand.

To sum up, it is exciting times ahead with the way we interact and communicate becoming a lot more authentic, honest and real. This will equate to a deeper understanding of one another and hopefully amazing outcomes.

Charlie Krowitz is our Melbourne Digital & Technology Consultant and she can be reached on +61 (3) 8610 6781 or