'Burnout' blamed for agency churn - MFA census

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 6 June 2016

A relentless “merry-go-round” of pitching and client promises has led to a rapid rise in media agency churn, the MFA's census has revealed.

Overall, the industry grew headcount by 5.8% to 3232 people - an 86% rise in the past five years.

However, the industry is being forced to replace more talent due to a rise in regrettable loss, up to 31% compared with 27% in 2014. The biggest driver of this is staff moving to rival agencies, accounting for 11.9% of loss.

The number of people leaving media agencies permanently has nearly doubled in one year - up to 9.4% in 2015 compared to 4.9% in 2014 – which is the second largest cause of churn.

OMD Australia chief executive and MFA chair Peter Horgan says the increase in the number of good people leaving the industry is a cause for concern and blames agency resources overreaching to keep clients happy.

“In this environment, you adapt or perish, but non-stop pitching as a perceived solution to trust issues exacerbates the problem,” Horgan says.

“A merry-go-round of pitch promises and the extra workload and the resource allocation away from solving client problems is a vicious cycle of burnout and under-delivery. It’s an industry-wide problem and one that we need to address collectively.”

MFA census 2016 chart 3

While churn is a problem, media agencies are making solid progress on gender diversity, with 42% of management positions held by women compared with a national average of 33%.

However, in senior management the split drops back to 33%, which is still better than most other sectors.

In terms of workload, 35% of staff now work in non-traditional media services such as digital (24.3%), trading desk (3.5%) and analytics (2.7%). The largest area of the business is in implementation (29.3%) and it will be interesting to see how this evolves as more processes are automated.

People by job title

MFA census 2016 chart 1

People by gender split

MFA census 2016 chart 2

Find out more: MFA census 2016

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