Tag Archives: Wharton

Work from Home or Not at All. The Evolving Role of Perks in Attracting Talent.

12 Oct

Ping pong table, rackets and balls in a sport hallThe ping-pong table sat idle, covered with stacks of paper, the modern day version of an in-home treadmill as hanging plant holder. Once considered an important perk and a reflection of a firm’s employee-centric culture, ping-pong tables in the workplace may have seen their halcyon days.

The marketing industry as a whole is wrestling with the issue of attracting and retaining talent. So much so in fact that the Association of National Advertisers’ CMO Growth Council made “talent and capabilities” one of its five core pillars for “driving business growth and societal good.” Globally, business leaders are working with their counterparts in academia to help attract young people to the marketing profession, while aligning curriculums with the emerging needs of a fast evolving industry to better prepare students for a marketing career. Additionally, consumer marketing companies, advertising agencies, media firms and others within the marketing sector have stepped up their on-campus recruiting efforts in an effort to identify and secure the next generation of marketing practitioners.

Thus it was with great interest that I read a recent article in Knowledge@Wharton entitled; “Wither the Ping-Pong Table? Which Perks Matter Most to Employees.” The article focused on the role that perks play in attracting and retaining employees.

One of the principal benefits of perks is their appeal to “top performers,” that small percentage of a firm’s employees that drive disproportionate value. Modern day perks range from paternity leave to flex time, unlimited vacation, on-site gyms and dry-cleaning service. Equally as important as their appeal to top talent: “Perks are symbolic of valuing employees, and people will give more when they are in a culture which is supportive and caring.” This according to Nancy Rothbard, Professor of Management at Wharton,

For the marketing and advertising industry, which has increased its efforts to replenish its ranks of energetic, knowledgeable professionals across a range of functions, perks play an important role in their talent sourcing efforts. Aside from helping to attract newcomers, perks also play a vital role in helping to energize a work place, build comradery among co-workers and reinforcing a firm’s cultural identity.

According to the Wharton article, perks that emanate from an organization’s culture tend to resonate with its employee base in a way that yields significant symbolic value. One example cited by Sigal Barsade, Professor of Management at Wharton was the offering of pet bereavement days, which can reinforce the notion that a company’s culture traits include “affection, caring and compassion.”

So what perks will provide the greatest value for your firm? Unlimited vacation, while appealing, is also quite costly. Perhaps goat yoga will yield the same results, with lower costs to the organization. Either way, the role of perks, rather than a reliance on the escalation of salary dollars, cannot be underestimated in winning the talent game.

Is the Failure to Comply with Contractual Terms Cheating?

3 Feb

contract complianceHaving been involved in developing marketing accountability systems and monitoring supplier compliance for the last decade or so, this is a question which has been posed many times, in many ways: 

 

  • Was this action or inaction an oversight or an ethical breach? 
  • Did they know or should they have known? 
  • Was their behavior consistent with industry standards? 
  • How could their interpretation of the agreement vary so wildly from ours? 
  • Were they intending to cheat us?
  • How could we have prevented this?

Long a subscriber to the principle of “caveat emptor” or “let the buyer beware”, I have long felt that advertisers need assistance to level the playing field when it comes to the financial stewardship of their marketing investment.  The fact of the matter is that “sellers,” which include marketing services agencies, media publishers and the myriad of third-party vendors whose goods and services are being procured on an advertiser’s behalf by their agency partners are better informed than their client-side counterparts or “buyers” when it comes to the intricacies of these transactions. 

Establishing sound Master Services Agreements with well defined terms and conditions designed to guide agency behavior and provide the requisite legal and financial safeguards are a great first step in any client-agency relationship.  Integrating a performance monitoring system with contract compliance testing further enhances a client’s controls, while yielding greater transparency into the financial management of their marketing spend.  Some may still ask; “But is this enough?”

Thus, it was with great interest that I read an article on the Knowledge@Wharton website entitled; “Cheaters… Win? Why Systems to Prevent Deception Don’t Work.”  Conventional wisdom among psychologists has held that “unethical behaviors” typically “evoke a negative emotional response after the event – if the mere promise of feeling guilt or remorse doesn’t stop the individual from doing it in the first place.”  However, a new research study conducted by Maurice E. Schweitzer of Wharton and colleagues from the HarvardBusinessSchool, LondonBusinessSchool and the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business suggests that there are other forces at work.  The study found that unethical behavior may not create a negative emotional reaction but conversely may “trigger positive feelings” among cheaters.  Why?  Mr. Schweitzer suggests that “part of the cheater’s high comes from a sense of accomplishment when an elaborate system is defeated.”

We’re all familiar with the euphemism, “Gaming the System.”  Could it be that some questionable behaviors in the minds of some “cheaters” are perfectly acceptable in this context?  The aforementioned research would suggest that this is the case.  Sadly, given the size of the global advertising ecosystem, which Magna Global estimates will reach $515 Billion in 2014, and the complexity of the marketing supply chain, this mindset raises the risks to advertisers when it comes to insuring that they are receiving value commensurate with what they have paid for. 

Farfetched?  Not really.  Just consider the steady stream of concern raised about the various ways in which digital media advertisers are defrauded.  You may recall the October 2013 story from Adweek’s Mike Shields entitled, The Amount of Questionable Online Traffic Will Blow Your Mind: The Worldwide Rip-offin which Wenda Millard, President of MediaLink purported that “a quarter of the online ad market is fraudulent.”  According to the article, Millard categorized actions such as, “piracy, non-viewable ads, ads stacked on top of one another, inappropriate content and, of course, deliberate malicious behavior” as fraudulent.  This is but one relevant example of the impact of cheating within the marketing sector.

The fact of the matter is that cheaters exist and always will.  They exist in every walk of life, in every industry, within every organization and at every level.  The best course of action to be taken to insulate an organization from cheaters has always been to find effective and efficient means to incent ethical behavior within one’s organization and across its supplier base.  Supplemented of course by an accountability initiative that includes ongoing oversight, performance monitoring and in the case of contract compliance, independent audit support.  In the oft cited words of President Ronald Reagan: “Trust, but verify.”

Interested in finding out what an advertiser can put into action to reduce its exposures to these kinds of abuses?  To learn more, contact Cliff Campeau, Principal at Advertising Audit & Risk Management at ccampeau@aarmusa.com for a complimentary consultation.

Is the Size of Your Agency Network Limiting Performance?

28 Jan

enhance agency network performanceGone are the days of the full-service advertising agency, providing integrated support across a broad range of marketing disciplines. Today, advertisers rely on a network of marketing services agencies that specialize in specific functional areas, geographies or diversity segments. The net effect of this shift is that the number of agencies which comprise an advertiser’s agency network has mushroomed. The question one might consider; “Is a larger network of specialist agencies more than a smaller network effective?”

With this question in mind, it was with great interest that I read a paper entitled; “Why individuals in larger teams perform worse.” The paper was based upon a study conducted by Jennifer Mueller, Professor of Management at Wharton who sought to explore team size and the impact on individual performance. The parallels between individuals serving on a team and specialty agencies collaborating as part of a vendor network are quite striking.

Professor Mueller found that the cost of collaboration was higher for larger teams. Of note, one of the “costs” identified in the study was tied to less time available to form meaningful relationships that boost productivity with each member of the team. How many firms make up an advertiser’s agency network? The numbers can grow to be quite unwieldy when you consider the combination of creative services shops, media agencies, digital agencies, diversity agencies, DM agencies, PR shops, social media agencies, research firms, printers and so forth. Have client-side Marketing staffs grown sufficiently to effectively manage large, diverse vendor networks and to nurture meaningful relationships with each?

One of the other bi-products of large teams was an increased level of stress tied to uncertainty regarding “who to turn to” or to call on when a question or a need arises. This scenario when viewed in the context of the lack of role clarity and responsibilities that exemplify many agency networks and their client-side sponsors can lead to both “relational loss” and “coordination loss” each of which can impede productivity, fuel stress and negatively impact the quality of work.

The key finding of the study was that while larger groups may perform better than smaller groups (up to a point), individuals on smaller teams performed better than individuals on larger teams. Professor Mueller was able to determine that the lack of connectivity between members of a larger team was the key driver of lower productivity.

Thus the challenge for advertisers managing a large agency network is to determine a means of enhancing connectivity between those agencies in a manner which leverages their respective areas of specialization while synchronizing the efforts of the team as a whole. Improved connectivity can aid team building efforts and boost relational strengths. Professor Mueller suggests the appointment of a “troubleshooter” to serve as a quarterback or “go to” person for each team member to turn to when problems solving support is required. Many advertisers have attempted to leverage their agency of record to serve on point in the capacity of “troubleshooter.” However, history shows us that the notion of a “lead agency” serving as the go to contact for other firms in the agency network is fraught with challenges and often proves to be an exercise in futility. Preferably, the “troubleshooter” should be a representative or representatives of the client’s Marketing Team, which more directly supports the goal facilitating disparate vendor organizations to work together in an efficient, connected manner to optimize the organization’s marketing investment.

The addition of a “go to” representative when augmented with clear roles, responsibilities and contract/ compensation models tied to desired performance outcomes is an excellent method for integrating the efforts of a marketing agency network. Further, continuously monitoring agency contract compliance and performance will provide an advertiser with additional controls to mitigate risk, generate a timely stream of accurate marketing analytics data and boost productivity of the agency network. Check out the article in its entirety at Knowledge@Wharton … Read More

 

 

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