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


So you want to be a Social Media Expert?

Social Media

You already think Social media is the bees knees, you spend majority of your life on there, so heck why not make it a career for yourself…But wait how do I do that? How do I go from using Facebook and posting my awesome weekend pics on Instagram to making myself a full-blown social media expert with a fabulous career?

Social Media is quickly becoming a very trendy career choice, but a lot of eager and hopeful individuals are left unsure of how to actually crack into the industry.

First of all I think I need to state the fact that not everyone can be a Social Media Expert and create a successful career in this. Just like any other profession, this type of work takes skill, natural ability and above all passion. It requires expertise in many facets of business including human relationships, communication, marketing, technology, customer service and much more.

There are a range of positions within the Social Career spectrum ranging from Community Manager, Social Media Manager, Social Strategist and the list goes on. However I like to categorize the roles in to two main groups the first being the creative side of social media involving creating content, managing communities, liaising with influencers and acting as the social presence for companies and brands. The second group I would call the strategic side of social also known as the more serious side – which involves planning resources and accountability.

Generally a lot of people I meet in this industry have come from a background in writing, copywriting, PR or journalism. However I understand people who want to enter Social Media as a career come from all different spaces. It’s important to transfer as many skills from either university if you are a fresh graduate or from your most recent position.  The transferable skills to stand you in good stead will involve both creative and analytical thinking.

If you want to get your foot in the door of Social Media but lack experience, consider an internship if its a viable option for you and start throwing yourself into all social media platforms, learn all you can and keep way ahead of trends. Setting up a blog that you are frequently updating and sharing posts is a great way to gain experience on your own and improve your online presence. Lastly, never discount genuine passion and excitement about the space as it has the potential to put you ahead of other candidates with equal experience.

Consider your online profile and professional presence as your first step – networking, networking and more networking is fundamental. As a recruiter in this market I am always hearing feedback from employers that people must have a large online presence before being considered for these roles. And trust me these employers will definitely do their homework and check what you’ve been up to!

A career in Social Media can be so rewarding as you see the results driven through traffic right under your nose, and Social Media is now a necessary part of almost all marketing strategies. As the digital market evolves, Social Media is moving with it and while there are rumours that Social Media careers won’t exist in five years, they are more than present now and hold a large demand in the market. You will gain transferable skills in this role that will set you in good stead for the rest of your marketing or digital career.

One last tip to help on your journey: always keep up to date with this ever-evolving industry or you can very easily be left behind.

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

Introducing your Social Media Team, Where to Start…

I can’t count the amount of times I am asked “where do I start with introducing a Social Media team to my business?” and

“What’s everyone else doing and how do I get started with this?”

I understand the world of Social Media is scary enough – let alone the thought of employing a team to run it for you. But let’s face it, we’re in 2015! We are reaching a point where social media isn’t a nice to have; it’s a need to have. In today’s digital space, if you don’t have a social media team or at least outsource your social media then you don’t actually exist in the virtual world.

Once you’ve justified your need for a social media team, you need to know where to begin to introduce the right team to your business. As a recruiter in this area, I meet different shaped and sized companies every week, large, small, quirky and straight. I understand a one step process for creating your dream team does not exist, however the insights below should fit most teams and help you find the best people to run this space for you.

The most important thing to remember when starting your team is to find the right people who are truly head over heels passionate about Social Media and your company! Once the passion is there, things become a lot easier. These individuals will be your largest advocates as the voice of your brand and products, they need to have the ability to understand and learn a lot of information. A successful Social Media specialist needs to embrace the high level of customer service that this role encompasses and showcase their willingness to go above and beyond their normal call of duty. Their main role at the end of the day is to make sure your followers and customers are happy and captivated.

A very good place to start your team is by initially hiring one person who is able to fulfill more than one social task. This person can create the social tone, voice and the direction of the business, and your team can grow from here. When considering this approach you need to keep in mind that this person would be taking on a rather large, full load and a smart way to work around this would be to limit or restrict the number of platforms you initially cover ensuring your Social Media Manager is always on top of posts and responds promptly. When deciding which platforms to start your Social Media journey with, your target audience and desired tone of voice should highly influence your decision.

A crucial point to keep in mind when building your social team is to find team members who are flexible and well versed in more than one social platform. Even though many people claim to be Social Media experts and enthusiasts, just because they use Facebook and post selfies on Instagram does not instantly make them capable of creating a business Social Media presence. You can easily test potential candidates on current trends and their ideas to quickly find out if their passion and knowledge is credible.

Care, coupled with creativity and positivity will create a fantastic social team, who will guide your business in creating its online voice and getting the right message across to your targeted audience.

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

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