Media agency churn drops to 30% but still 'too high'

By David Blight | 22 January 2013

In a positive sign for Australian media agencies, the dreaded churn figure has dropped to 30.4% from as high as 41.2%, while staff numbers are on the increase.

The issue of staff churn in media agencies has been particularly prominent in recent years, with the Australian industry lamenting incredibly high figures including 37% in 2010 and 41.2% in 2008.

The most recent figures are based on the 12 months to September 2012, and have been compiled in the Media Federation of Australia's (MFA) Census and Salary Survey.

The survey has also indicated staff turnover in media agencies was down four percentage points year on year, falling from 34% to 30%.

Meanwhile, staff numbers have increased 12.6% year on year, while only 4.9% of media agency employees leave the industry on a permanent basis.

One well-placed industry source has suggested that while the figure is a positive sign for the industry, it is still “too high”.

The source argued that the industry needs to continue to keep working towards an even lower churn rate, and that the figure should be as low as 20%.

In response to this, MFA president and Mediabrands executive chairman Henry Tajer told AdNews: “The figure is higher than everybody would like, but it's a definite improvement. We are seeing results from our increased focus on people in the industry.

“Is 30% too high? Yes. But if we got to 20%, then we'd be saying that is too high as well. You always want to be constantly improving.”

MFA board director and Ikon Communications chief executive Dan Johns said: “The growth in staff numbers has been driven by media agencies hiring more people in the important areas of digital, analytics and people and culture.

“This is a great sign that our industry is in growth mode and we are less reliant than ever on advertising billings. Our industry, more than any other, has taken the role of progressive people and culture strategies seriously and with great impact.

“Over the last few years we have really come together as an industry and dialled up our focus on our people – this has had an immediate impact on our member businesses. Media agencies have proven themselves among the best places to work, both inside and outside of the communications industry.”

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