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How to Retain Talent: Keep Them Busy
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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The advertising business needs good people.

AdLand needs creative, ambitious, and inquisitive minds in order to craft messages that relate to customers on behalf of the brands we serve. But as history has taught us, these minds, as bright as they may be, need more than one outlet in order to be satisfied.

Advertising and marketing professionals are routinely pegged for being tied up in multiple ventures and activities, whether it's writing books, poetry, making short films and movies, or even creating independent and small businesses.

It is very interesting; in an industry where we are constantly looking at the wants and needs of consumers, it cannot be surprising that these same professionals want to try out different enterprises.

So how do agencies and brand marketers keep their talent happy?

They let them work.

Yes, in the New York Times, columnist Stuart Elliott tells of Deutsch L.A.'s "Side Project Project" where they allow employees time and resources to work on their specific pursuits. And, according to the article, these employees get a chance to present their ideas to the entire agency and senior management with the hopes of getting their side projects some real legs. So far, two projects have taken off.

We thought this was a great idea. Though it isn't entirely novel — Google has its 20% time, where employees can mess with code and tools to create something, an effort that Gmail came out of — but for the advertising agency world, where spending time on things other than client work is rarely tolerated, we thought this was a breath of fresh air.

Yes, to keep creative and ambitious talent happy, you must allow them to be creative and ambitious.

Of course, the work on client projects shouldn't slack, and we are sure that there are guidelines as to how much time is spent on your side projects versus your actual projects, but this concept of creating a freer space for advertising and marketing people to pursue their business ideas is pretty cool.

Kudos, Deutsch L.A. 

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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