Ashish Khazanchi
Guest Article

Invest in enthusiasm, not notice periods

Our guest author believes the advertising industry is shackling itself with unreasonably long notice periods for all employees.

The advertising industry in India seems to look for every single way to harm itself, its clients, its people and the work it is hired to do. It then embarks upon foolhardy paths, with not a single thought about how certain actions may impact the industry.

This brings us to the latest in the series of such continuing misadventures, the three-month notice period. For absolutely everyone, even the most junior resources!

A dumb hack designed by HR and mid-level managers, who probably never for a day dealt with the actual process of creating campaigns or working in teams. People who don’t give a damn about morale, the role it plays and how it contributes to the winning ways of an agency.

A move clearly devised from a place of smug authoritarianism and with no thought about individuals’ and the client’s real needs. A quick fix that harms the agency more than it fixes.

You are a person short in a football team. So, what do you do? The answer is apparent even to a first grader. Get a new player who’s raring to have a blistering shot at the goal. An energetic fresh pair of legs is everything you need to win. And, what do we do? We have the injured and the not so interested players play on with their contracts shoved into their faces.

I dare the smug senior managers to have a similar contract enforced with their roster of clients.

Of course, you can’t.

It’s enforced on the 20-odd year olds simply because the organisation can. This is done without any care for the well-being or morale of the employees or how an agency could actually win.

Because HR.

Unfortunately HR doesn’t come up with campaigns. Or, know what it takes to get an agency really going. Problem of attrition? Let’s lock the gates.

So suddenly, we have all these agencies with ring-fenced employees everywhere and not a single idea about how you could get your fresh set of legs. Because everyone suddenly seems to have fenced in all the players who have little fight left in them.

The employees seem to be missing out on a lot of opportunities that they would have loved to be a part of. And, as sweet karma would have it, the same agency now has to wait three months itself for its newest employee to join after completing their three-month notice period elsewhere. Why? Because HR.

So, you have nimble independent agencies, with softer employee policies, beat the daylights off bigger agencies, with their disinterested employees at pitches and the kind of work we produce.

I’ve seen the presentation decks of so many agencies in the last two years and I really wish for them to keep on doing everything they’re doing to make sure they continually suck.

It is for the employees, however, to make their HR roll back what was arguably a necessity for top tier executives and maybe for the period of severe COVID. We aren’t living in severe COVID times anymore, are we?

The three-month notice period for young folks must absolutely go. It smacks of authoritarianism and all those things that make the younger folks give a go by to advertising. Culture is what made us a magnet. And, enthusiasm is what built culture.

We need to start investing in enthusiasm. Not in the lack of it.

We need to make our people feel like their needs and happiness count for as much as of the organisations they work for.

(Ashish Khazanchi is managing partner at Enormous)

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