How prepared are creative agencies to welcome GenZ onboard?

In a panel discussion at Goafest 2024 titled “The Cornerstones of a Future-Ready Agency,” experts explored the vital role of adaptability and innovation in shaping the future of agencies, particularly concerning GenZ

Niveditha Kalyanaraman
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Mumbai: In a panel discussion at Goafest 2024, titled ‘The Cornerstones of a Future-Ready Agency,’ the panellists explored the vital role of adaptability and innovation in shaping the future of agencies, as far as the next generation is concerned. 

Steering the discussion, Dheeraj Sinha, Group CEO for India and South Asia at FCB Group India, posed a critical question: Is the idea of creativity decentralised?

To this end, Jitendra Dabas, Chief Operating Officer and CSO, India, Head of Effectiveness, APAC, McCann Worldgroup, stated, “We have to accept the fact that the idea of creativity is not decentralised.”

“We've moved from decentralisation to democratisation. We have far more younger individuals. So, forget about those vertical pyramidal structures controlled at the top,” he added.

However, the real question, he emphasised, is whether we are creating agencies where younger people feel comfortable. "Are they happy working in the traditional agency structures we've created in the past? Or do we need to rethink and adapt our structures to better suit them?”

Addressing the generational shift in the workplace, Anusha Shetty, Chairperson and Group CEO of Grey Group, India, shared her insights: "I hear from senior leaders about culture missing. But the truth is, Gen Z is the largest workforce today, and they want flexibility; 85% of Gen Z wants a hybrid work situation.”

“Are we as seniors ready to accept this?" She emphasised the importance of adapting to the needs of younger employees,” she added. 

Highlighting the crucial aspect of future-ready agencies being GenZ-friendly, Babita Baruah, Chief Executive Officer of VML India, said, "Simple things like setting younger people up for success and fostering a sense of belonging are crucial. Allowing expression and embracing them is key." 

Adding to it, she stated that salaries and the way we handle their remuneration are another aspect. 

"Maybe, we need to think very differently. For them, I noticed that employment is probably just a contract. They are committed. They can't be as loyal as us. If they stay with you for two years, that's probably a very big thing."

Discussing the importance of restructuring, Sinha stated, "We decided to open up our structure. This meant that leaders and young people alike could quickly engage with technology. We embraced this change, reallocating funds from middle management to other areas, which made everyone happier and the system more agile and less bogged down by excessive analysis."

This model of restructuring, which benefits younger employees, has been particularly effective in my parent organisation."

Talking about the sense of belonging as a key factor, Baruah said, "Young people love a sense of belonging. The second factor is allowing expression and embracing it," she added.

When discussing strategies for honing talent, Shetty stated, "We need people who are open and can embrace young talent. These individuals will be the future for us, and we need to bring them on board."

Highlighting a pitfall, Dabas remarked, "In agencies, we must avoid creating environments characterised by tiredness and overwork. Our industry shouldn't be known for its negative aspects, like people slogging away on numerous briefs. This perception might arise because some are better at crafting messages.”

"We must create positive environments and ensure our entire workforce is agile and young at heart," he added.

"If we segregate groups based on age, we are fostering a divisive environment. Instead, if everyone is agile and conversations are inclusive, age becomes irrelevant in our industry," Dabas further stated.