For ad and digital agencies, one of the biggest challenges today is retaining their millennial employees.

Almost like clockwork, at the 3-year mark, they want to move on. We certainly can’t blame them; part of their DNA is to find new challenges at this young stage in their career. (update: I’m told in the Bay Area, it’s a year.)

This revolving door puts the ever-increasing focus on hiring and retention. We’ve covered this extensively with select agency owners and CEOs in our CEO Stars problem-solving sessions, and it’s a challenge that’s going to get worse – unless you address it as seriously as you address new business.
No matter how much free food, free laundry, free movie or concert tickets you’ve offered millennials; no matter how great your culture is, moving on is a way of life.

As an agency owner, what do you do? Be prepared. Although it’s a simple answer, it entails much more detail.

Your agency must have an ongoing marketing program that attracts new talent. Whether it’s the responsibility of your “chief of talent” or the responsibility of each of your department heads, neglecting this is like neglecting new business: you’re caught with an empty pipeline.

And, if this sounds like a new business program, well it is! We’ve heard that the lifeline of any agency is new business; I’ll change that to the lifeline of any agency is great talent and having the talent pipeline full.

But before you run your traditional “we’re looking for” ad, you must ask yourself this question, “Why would I want to work at your agency?”
And, here we go with differentiation – what makes your agency a better place to be employed at than the agency down the street?

Don’t know why? It’s time to write your “Top Ten Letterman List.” – ten reasons your agency is a great place to work.
I believe agencies should look at recruiting talent as a marketing function. It shouldn’t be based only when you need it; it should be consistent and ongoing.

In our sessions, we’ve discussed countless creative ways to attract talent; we probably came up with five solid, never-heard-of-before approaches. That’s what we do in CEO Stars! We’re our own consultants, advising each other.

One option to the millennial exodus is to hire older rather than younger. This may mean increasing your salary levels, but what you get in return is talent with experience and stability.

Is there a way to stop the millennial revolving door? No, but you can minimize it with some out-thinking. That’s what one Detroit agency does.
Once a year, this mid-size Detroit agency takes their complete staff, no matter the level of seniority, on an ‘agency mystery trip.’

They tell their employees to arrive at work with a suitcase, packed with 4 days of clothes. They all bus to the airport, not knowing where the destination is, until they get to the airport and are handed their airline ticket. One year, it was off to Iceland.

So, what’s their turnover rate? As close as you can get to zero.

The agencies that are part of CEO Stars are tackling this millennial “should I stay, or should I go” issue head-on, learning and sharing with each other on what works and what doesn’t. How about you?