Originally posted on Forbes

To stay competitive in their respective industries, all businesses must equip their organizations to thrive no matter what the future of work may bring. Many companies today are prioritizing initiatives focused on attracting diverse talent, fostering continuous learning and development and implementing employee retention strategies—and agencies are no exception.

Below, 19 Forbes Agency Council members explore their agencies’ top priorities to ensure they can effectively staff, develop and retain talent. By focusing their efforts in these key areas, agency leaders can cultivate dynamic and resilient workforces capable of meeting the challenges of today and seizing the opportunities of tomorrow.

1. Design A Trusting, Flexible Work Environment

Our company focuses on an employee-driven workplace. Design an environment that is not one-size-fits all, but rather, one that is flexible and trusting. People should only be able to lose trust; they should not have to earn it. Understand that flexibility and respect are key to ensuring staff feels supported and committed. – Christine Barneyrbb Communications

2. Don’t Try To Attract People; Build An Attractive Business

We’ve worked hard to build our company into a business known as much for its culture and attitude as it is for its work—and for putting its people first. All of this means that we rarely struggle to hire and our retention rate is significantly better than the industry average. Rather than focusing on attracting people, focus on making your business attractive, and everything will get a lot easier. – Dan Cullen-ShuteCreature

3. Focus On Culture Fit Over Skills

Hiring in 2024 is all about culture fit first. Hiring people with the right skills who aren’t the right culture fit will slow down and demoralize your team. This is basic Jim Collins thinking: Get the right people on the bus, then find the right seats for them. – Dustin SchultzUnion

4. Double Down On Your Commitment To Inclusivity

We know that to attract talent that can drive our growth, we must foster a culture where all team members feel genuine respect and belonging daily. From introducing a new companywide interactive diversity, equity and inclusion learning platform to highlighting our team members’ unique identities and cultures through our DEI council, we’re doubling down on our commitment to inclusivity. – Tom HilemanGlobal Prairie

5. Recognize And Reward Employees

Showing team members that you see them as more than just what they can do for your business is a key way of retaining talent. We recognize and reward team members both socially and monetarily, invest in their personal and professional growth and development, and ensure that work-life balance is a priority. If a team member decides to leave, ensuring they feel supported is as important as retaining them. – April WhiteTrust Relations

6. Adopt A ‘One For All And All For One’ Approach

At our company, we have adopted a “one for all and all for one” approach to staffing, development and retaining top talent. This means that we train for the industry we serve, and for the company and systems we have, while encouraging transparency about an individual’s personal and professional goals. We ask for a two-year commitment, and then we help place people in the industry if they want to move on. – Ilissa MillerIMiller Public Relations

7. Foster An Ownership Mentality

As an agency specializing in field team activation, our priority for developing and retaining talent is grounded in fostering an ownership mentality that transcends traditional structures. We prioritize an entrepreneurial approach to work, where every employee is a stakeholder in our collective journey. In turn, this strategy honors our employees’ creativity and evolves their wins into best practices. – Kim LawtonEnthuse Marketing

8. Find And Train Up Scrappy, Can-Do People

The PR and marketing agency I started 30 years ago is a privately held, family-owned business. But at my company, family is about more than bloodline. It’s the culture we live. One of our mottos is “family first”—but when working, we are dedicated, discerning and driven. We also love finding and training up scrappy, can-do people, and we offer lots of nontraditional perks. – Marie SwiftImpact Communications, Inc.

9. Explore Nontraditional Work Arrangements

My top priority with my agency is realizing that traditional ways of working as a team can be changed drastically. People can coalesce without the need to be W-2 employees. Improving flexibility in this area has already shown massive promise, as many creative people enjoy making their own schedules and working with the people they want to work with, not those they have to work with. – Lee SalisburyUnitOneNine

10. Seek Talent Aligned With The Your Company’s Values

We are focused on hiring proactive, nice people who pay attention to detail and overcome obstacles. Proactive: How often do they ask questions or initiate projects? Prosocial: How well do they get along with their peers? Discipline: How effectively do they pay attention? Determined: How do they persist in the face of an obstacle? – Peter BoydPaperStreet Web Design

11. Hire Talent Proficient In GenAI; Upskill Existing Staff

Our agency’s top priority in building the workforce of the future is twofold: hiring new talent proficient in generative AI and upskilling our existing staff in the same area. It’s not just about staying current with technology trends; it’s also about leveraging these advancements to drive innovation, efficiency and growth. – Uri SametBuzz Dealer

12. Stay True To Your Authentic Culture

The future is a constantly moving target. We never truly know what’s next. However, one thing that remains constant in the staffing and retention of talent is remembering the importance of staying true to an authentic culture. We’re either all on this mission together as a team unified by core principles, or we’re not. – Austin IraborNETFLY

13. Nurture The Staff You Have Without Stifling Their Growth

My top priority is nurturing the staff I have by creating a safe, fun and inclusive workforce and really empowering my team. Too much focus on retaining top talent can lead to people feeling stifled or trapped, and that’s the opposite of what I want. It’s always hard to let anyone go, let alone a star employee, but I want my team to want to come to work every day and be motivated to do so. – Tom ElstnerZoogency GmbH

14. Behave Like A Benefit Corporation

Our goal is to behave like a benefit corporation, or a B Corporation. B Corps are for-profit companies with a legal structure that holds them accountable for making a positive impact on society—think Ben & Jerry’s or Patagonia. This means striving to ensure high-quality treatment of the workforce, employing ethical business practices and contributing to the greater good. – Alicia ArnoldAK Arnold

15. Adapt Your Culture To The Talent You Want To Attract

To attract talent in today’s market, we are heavily focused on building the right culture—a culture focused on trust, respect, growth and fun! We are adapting to the needs of today’s Gen-Z employees. This includes work-life balance, remote opportunities, training and career advancement. We want people to be motivated to come to work every day, and that also still includes being accountable and meeting goals. – Michael FoxCorberry Digital

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