Invest in people and you’ll earn exponential dividends

You have to congratulate GyroGroup for its proactive approach to new graduates (see Letters, page 11). The strategy laid out by consultancy creative director Darren Bolton shows a willingness to engage fresh talent, even if the job opportunities aren’t immediately there.

GyroGroup is likely to be inundated with young hopefuls next week when it runs its first open day. But at least Bolton and his colleagues are doing their bit to attract the best of this year’s college output.

It could be that for next year’s session the consultancy adopts a different tack, laying down conditions or setting a brief to limit the number of graduates heading its way and up the chances of the right type of person presenting themselves.

This would fall in line with guidance given by our recent recruitment agency correspondents, Jon Alport (Letters, DW 5 August) and Frank Hutton, whose response appears this week. Their call for better recruitment practices, including better staff training, is timely. Many design groups are contemplating another tough autumn, but the more astute realise that their staff are among their greatest assets and that equipping them with the best possible skills for a changing market and building loyalty is one of the key things they can do to arm themselves for whatever the new season brings.

It may not be as easy to plan workload as it once was, but that doesn’t stop you nurturing your resources. The formal training recruitment agents suggest is one way, but you have to do what best suits your culture.

WPP branding agency Coley Porter Bell, for example, has long run its own Blue Skies internal prize scheme, under which any team member can submit ideas about something they have a passion for that involves personal development and that could bring something special to the consultancy. This year’s winner, planner Liseanne Gougeon, will spend two weeks and up to £2000 researching the effects on wellbeing of cosmetic surgery and preparing a public show on her findings in the consultancy’s London office.

For many groups, sadly, hiring ‘green’ graduates will not be part of the plan this year. But there are other ways to identify and attract the best talent. Most of the ‘names’ in design have long been conscious of the need to ‘give something back’ through direct involvement with colleges or through student competitions, or to at least visit graduate shows. It is significant that Design & Art Direction’s president-elect has invariably chaired the education group before assuming top office.

But the idea of giving time and energy to young people – or long-serving staff – is sound. It represents vital investment in the future.

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