Agency HR Update: Hiring and Retention Trends

Maureen Deacy, Ddirector-Talent Acquisition, Inspira

In our 2024 Agency Business Outlook report, agency leaders report that hiring continues to be one of the top three investments they are making, with special focus on creative, account services and production roles. But across the country, hiring and retention trends amid an ever-evolving workplace continue to have trickle-down influence on the way event agencies are growing and investing in their own organizations.

To gain insight into one organization’s culture and investments, we sat down with Maureen Deacy, director-talent acquisition at Inspira, who says “employee well-being” continues to be a major goal for her. Four trends her team is following.


DEI a Key Focus

While the loss of corporate DEI roles has dominated headlines, many companies continue to regard DEI as a long-term investment. And in the event marketing world, a range of guidelines and measurement tools have cropped up to help agencies and clients prove the return.

The teams at Inspira and its partner agency, Enthuse, say DEI is as important a focus as it’s ever been. “We’ve leaned into it even more, and recently brought on a new Circa diversity job board that reaches out to a community of 15,000 potential diverse hires, from veterans to women to the LGBTQ+ community, and this is us ensuring that we are doing a good job of being inclusive and also continually striving for diversity of thought,” says Maureen Deacy, director-talent acquisition at Inspira.


Hybrid Life Continues

At Inspira and Enthuse, different groups come in to the office two days a week. On one of those days, the team holds a weekly meeting called Caffeine that is led by managers. It offers an update on what’s happening at the agency, like new business and new trends in event marketing, and includes special shoutouts and kudos for team members. This, on top of quarterly all-agency town halls and quarterly employee pulse surveys, as well as an annual kickoff meeting. Hybrid schedules continue to be a top priority for job seekers.

“I think the hybrid model is here to stay in some shape or form. I do think it’s starting to look a little different, and colleagues of mine in the recruitment community, they’re still doing hybrid and there seems to be more chatter about piloting the four-day workweek,” Deacy says. “If COVID taught us anything, it’s that we still have to remain agile and adaptive.”


Strengths-based Testing Aid Onboarding

In the days of the Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5, it could take six months for working “relationships” among different people to form. Today, in the hybrid culture, companies are being more proactive about it and using tools to help colleagues understand your “work you” better and faster.

At Inspira and Enthuse, new hires regularly take a survey from The StandOut Assessment that identifies a person’s “standout” strength type (like “advisor” or “equalizer,” as examples). The assessment takes less than 15 minutes to complete.

“The idea is you understand what the strengths of that person are, and how you can build on those and leverage them,” says Deacy. “It may ask, ‘What did you love this week? What did you loathe? Did you meet with your manager to discuss your priorities for the week? What are your priorities for next week?’ And it keeps you continually connected to your manager. I think from an onboarding perspective, it helps it move faster and more seamlessly.”


Professional Development Focused on the Person

Employees had a lot on their plates in 2023 across corporate America. According to a Q4 2023 Gallup poll asking managers what changes occurred in their organizations last year, 64 percent said employees were “given additional job responsibilities,” 51 percent cited “the restructuring of teams,” and 42 percent reported “budget cuts.”

All the more reason why culture is a top priority among many workplaces this year, and it continues to be for Inspira. A good culture today requires that employees feel a part of a community, that their hard work is recognized, that their values align with those of the company, and that employees feel they are continuously learning. But an often forgotten about insight is that people want to improve themselves—not just improve on skills that support the company.

“We supply an employee stipend that they can use for any learning of their choice. Maybe it’s to get advanced Excel skills, or to take a PowerPoint class—it’s about using it to help build their personal toolbox,” Deacy says. “It’s not just what they can do for us. It’s how can we help them grow as an individual and further their career.”


Have an event agency HR story to share? Send us a note.

Featured Image: iStock/HowLettery

Rachel Boucher
Posted by Rachel Boucher

Rachel joined Event Marketer in 2012 and today serves as the brand's head of content. Her travels covering the experiential marketing indust ry have ranged from CES in Las Vegas to Spring Break in Panama City Beach, Florida (hey, it's never too late)—and everywhere in between.
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